Gwénola Carrère

llustrator Gwénola Carrère is very much a European citizen. Born in 1977 in Switzerland, to French parents, she grew up in Vienna, then moved to Brussels where she still lives.

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Carrère teaches at two art schools in the city, one of which, St Luc, she also studied at. Originally, Carrère applied to do graphic design but failed to get in and so turned to illustration. She has enjoyed some success so far as a children’s illustrator having had three books published – one with an Italian publisher and two in France. In the UK, her work has appeared in the now defunct music magazine Plan B: music is, she says, her favourite area to work in, as evidenced by a series of beautiful concert posters in her portfolio. “Music is very stimulating for my senses and my imagination,” she says. “The rhythm, for instance, is something I love to translate visually, through more or less dynamic spaces, shapes and colours. And I love when I can add handmade typography to pictures, when I can combine words and pictures so that both get on the same level and reinforce each other.”

Carrère’s preferred materials are acrylic paint, brushes and a coarse-grained Aquarelle paper, but “I always come and go from hand to computer and from computer to hand, mixing both in the hope that it won’t look too ‘technologically designed’. I often use the computer to roughly put together shapes and colours (in Photoshop). It’s like collage. Images often appear slowly because I start with abstract shapes. Details are the last thing I work on. Maybe a little bit like a sculptor working with stone or wood, I dig into things, removing, step by step, what’s not necessary. The very final touch is always digital again. I scan the original work and use Photoshop for all the typographic work, the picture cleaning, the colour adjustments, for the silkscreen preparation [for posters], etc.”

We first came across Carrère’s work thanks to editorial designer Simon Esterson who has put her forward for a forthcoming exhibition. “Gwénola’s got that wonderful combination of a seductive style and sharp ideas,” he says. “[Her work is] beautiful and thoughtful.”

Carrère actually believes that she has two separate, but linked styles: “People like to know what they can expect from you when they work with you, but it’s also important to me to explore other graphic directions because otherwise the danger is to repeat myself and to get bored of my own work,” she says. “So to avoid that, I’ve started, little by little, to develop two different directions: one that is more for adults and one more for children. It’s not that I tried to separate the two styles radically, but depending on the work I was offered to do, the different topics and the different audience, it came naturally to me.… Actually, I want my whole work to evolve continuously, so that I can continue to satisfy people and not get bored at the same time.”

See more of Carrère’s work at She is represented by Illustrissimo,