Our next Reviewer, Montreal native Marie-Michelle Bergeron, is in many ways an illustration and design superhero. We asked her to tell us her strategies for fighting “blank page syndrome”, choosing projects, and escaping from a zombie apocalypse.
Marie will also be our keynote speaker for this edition!
Growing up in Montreal’s West Island, Marie draws inspiration from the city and it’s diverse multicultural community, as well as from pop culture, video game, and cult classic iconography. What incited her to become a freelance creative?
“First, because I love it. It’s great being able to work on your own – make your own path, no one else to step on it. The experience is much different than other work, and in my case very enjoyable. If I wasn’t a designer I think the game or movie industry would be the best solution for me. What’s fun about being a designer is that you could eventually (or already somehow be part of) the movie and game industry.”
“When working on a new project, I go with what I feel like doing. I don’t particularly rush myself when doing one subject. Certain days I can be inspired by one thing, other days by something else. The fact of having an idea for a poster could help a lot with creating one. Of course, being part of galleries and the Poster Posse for example makes us challenge ourselves to find concepts. It’s a good thing too.”
Looking through examples of her work, it’s clear that Marie knows a thing or two about pop culture and sci-fi subjects. In the event that Montreal is overrun in a zombie apocalypse, what are her strategies for escaping?
“Every geek loves to answer this. I would actually avoid WalMart (which is where most peeps think of going). Crowds need to be avoided at all costs! I will definitely go deep in the woods, and find the best place to stay away from cities. Of course I’ll need lots of supplies, trusted friends, and axes haha!!”
Definitely a solid strategy! We would recruit Marie to our survival team if we were stuck in zombie-infested Montreal. And…speaking of getting stuck, how does she deal with getting stuck creatively?
“The white page syndrome is definitely there sometimes. I deal with it by sitting away from the computer, having a coffee, and writing and sketching ideas in a notebook. When winter is here, a warm bath can help a lot.”
With subjects ranging from cult classics like Mad Max to contemporary icons like Breaking Bad, it’s easy to see why her posters are so popular. You’re just as likely to randomly see an example of a Marie Bergeron print hanging in someone’s loft (true story!) as you are to find great examples of her work in print. As a freelance illustrator with so much freedom of choice, is it possible to choose a favourite piece?
“Oh, the never answered question…I think all artists and designers have a certain difficulty to say which one is their favourite. We are usually very hard on ourselves in terms of self-criticism. Fans are probably the best to answer this one!”
After reaching this point in her career, we wondered if she would have done anything differently. If she could time travel back ten years, what advice would her present-day self give to her younger self?
“Not that I’m perfect, and far from it haha! But nothing really. We have our own path and I’m the kind of person who kind of believes in destiny. The best advice I’ve ever been given was to keep going, and keep fighting for what you want the most. Never give up. But be patient…”
And for the rest of us, any advice on how to follow our own path?
“Again, don’t give up. Really! It sounds cheesy and repetitive but it’s the best thing to say. Get surrounded by people better than you. Don’t be ashamed of the shit you create (because we all do poor things from time to time).”