Hello, my name is Karine Fortier. I am originally from Paris, where I used to be a production assistant on a morning TV show while studying Psychology at University. After graduating, I won a sponsorship to study Graphic Design and shortly after completing my course, I moved to the UK with my fiancé.
I worked for various companies in Publishing, Broadcast and Charity before starting a small business as the proud owner of an online indie shop – sourcing products from UK, USA, Japan and France but also making my own. It was really inspiring and rewarding to collaborate with lots of talented designers – I learnt so much from this experience. I have also freelanced as a web designer before starting illustration over a year ago and I absolutely love it!
When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
My childhood was spent drawing, reading, making things, listening to music and watching cartoons. Not much has changed since! I always had a creative drive so the idea has matured in my head for many years before I took my first steps towards illustration. Being in a position to make a career of creating a visual world that comes entirely out of your head is just magical!
Would you recommend studying at art school?
Well, I had a sinuous path in term of education so it’s difficult for me to say. I studied visual art for my baccalaureate, then science at university and finally I trained as a graphic and web designer, so I do think that studying at art school is important but perhaps not essential. In a way, it all depends on the individual and the opportunities available. They are many possibilities to learn, discover and experiment with different creative techniques outside a formal academic art school environment – for example; workshops, online talks and resources and collaborative work.
How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
I am still young at this, so I would not say that this is my primary form of income yet. I don’t have any regular illustration clients at the moment, but I hope to in the future.
Could you describe your typical day?
I have my breakfast at 7h30 – bread with jam or honey and a strong coffee – while watching silly programs on TV. I get ready and start work at around 8h30. My studio is in the garden, so it only takes me a few minutes to be at my desk. First, I turn the radio on and read my emails, newsletters and update my blog, twitter, etc with my finds. I have a short break around 10h30 – herbal tea and something to nibble. I will then start, review or complete projects. I generally finish around 7-7h30pm. Although I am extremely focused on my work, days are never entirely the same. On quiet days, I will read blogs I have bookmarked, learn new techniques, watch documentaries online or listen to talks on TED or creative mornings. I make sure I have a walk every day. I always have a note book in my bag and some in the house. I get ideas from watching TV, reading magazines, listening to the radio or meeting people. I will also use my phone to take notes and photos when I am out.
What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
Never be afraid to say no. A degree of flexibility is of course essential, but being able to say no when something is not working is key to being a happy person.
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
The constant smile on my face.
What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
I sometime worry that I might not be able to come up with new ideas.
If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
Detective or florist. I love teaching too.
Any other tips you could share?
Feed your imagination – create, make or seek inspiration every day. Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. Oh, and have some breaks and plenty of fun 😉