Melanie Lambrick weaves nostalgia into her photos impressed by the west coast

Montreal-based illustrator Melanie Lambrick accidentally got into an illustration career, so she never thought it was an option. “I have a double degree in art and political science and I always had a lot of open messaging in the art that I did in school, but at that time I was painting and taking pictures a lot. Then I did a Masters in Urban Planning and worked in that area for a while, but something didn't feel right – I knew I wanted to be more creative, ”says Lambrick. "I actually started studying journalism, and that's where I started really engaging with illustration and realizing that it suits me well."

Although she studied fine arts in her undergraduate studies, Lambrick is self-taught and had little contact with the industry before she started. “Being self-taught is great in a way. I feel that my approach is really unique and personal to me. However, it's a big learning curve and I think my style has developed and grown very publicly, which is very vulnerable, ”explains Lambrick. “It would have been nice to experiment and explore with more mentoring and feedback in a school environment with lower stakes. I had to learn to trust my work and go outside of myself to learn regularly. "

Illustration for the New York Times

With this self-confidence, Lambrick can easily quote her influences. "I think my style is fun, bright, and contemporary, but it's definitely a tribute to the West Coast / California vibe in the 60s and 70s and the illustration of vintage children's books," she explains. “Although I mainly work digitally, I try to make sure that my work comes as close to an analog approach and looks as good as possible. It is so nice to see an artist's hand and tools in his work. "

Lambrick mainly uses Photoshop and uses their Wacom tablet for speed reasons. "I love analog work, but I can't produce it fast enough," she says. "I'm trying to find or create Photoshop tools that imitate pen and ink, screen printing, and other practical techniques to get a better feel."

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The illustrator has applied this technique to many editorial jobs, including work for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Reader & # 39; s Digest, Medium, and Man Repeller. "I love editorial work because it is very challenging. The ideas are incredibly complex and the deadlines are very short," says Lambrick and beautiful to design. "

Many of Lambrick's editorial works are conceptual, but their expressive palette of colors and uncomplicated figures and shapes establish their work in a kaleidoscopic reality that feels both nostalgic and trippy. “Editorial customers are usually wonderful because they are both very intelligent and very familiar with art, illustration and design. They give me a lot of creative space and when they give input it is often very valuable and helps me to expand my practice, ”notes Lambrick. “I love briefs with several parts, in which I can examine a topic from different angles and perspectives. I also like briefs where customers are open to a better and perhaps funnier view of the subject, even if it's serious. "

Illustration for LeD Magazine

With the short deadlines that come with editorial illustrations, Lambrick has improved a smooth work process. “I read the material and the letter and make sure that I understand the topic very well. Sometimes I have to do more research. Then when I have the time, I try to do free association research by looking at pictures, photographs, art, textiles and ephemera that I could relate to the topic, even if it is only tangential, ”explains Lambrick.

“From there, I sketch a series of thumbnails of ideas that might work. Then I try to take a break and let the whole thing simmer in the back of my head if I can. I come back and select the best ideas from the sketches and develop them into complete sketches that I send to the customer. After your selection and the necessary back and forth, I proceed to the last piece. Sometimes this whole process takes place on the same day. "

Illustration for the New York Times

Although Lambrick likes the fast pace, dealing with topics she doesn't know about can be one of the most challenging aspects of editorial jobs. "In these cases, I really need to double up and find a way to communicate what needs to be communicated while incorporating my own references and interests," says the illustrator.

Their adaptability has also resulted in Lambrick being able to deal with the changing nature of illustration work, although this is no less difficult. “Freelance illustrations have an inherently difficult to predict workflow. In the past few years I have had very busy times and have almost burned out. Then I won't get a job for a week or more, which is nerve-wracking, ”she explains. “I have just started to develop a more stable work plan, but I suspect that this is no longer possible as the economy and industry continue to adapt to the pandemic. I always felt that the future with this work is difficult to predict for me, and this is all the more true at the moment. "

Illustration for Texas Monthly

Despite the difficulties of starting and maintaining a career in illustration, Lambrick's advice to people who want to get started is simple: “Just get started! Your work will only get better if you keep going. "

The illustrator also believes that a strong individual voice is critical. "So get as many of your own influences and interests as possible when developing your style," she says. "I think that's the key to continuously making the process interesting for the audience, but also for the artist himself."

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