Meet Myriam Van Neste: Shifting From Sculptor to Illustrator

The work of Canadian artist and illustrator, Myriam Van Neste, has the ever so slightest Henri Matisse feel to it. Like the famous artist, Myriam utilises bold, block colours to create shapes and form and pieces them together similar to a collage.

However, it is her time in the many cities she has lived and amongst the various design cultures that inspires Myriam’s art. Here she has an e-conversation with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor and opens up about her career, her creative pathway and her dream project.Hello Myriam, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Shall we begin at the beginning, where did you grow up?
I grew up in Quebec, Canada.

Where do you live now?
After three years living in Vienna, Austria, my partner and I decided to move back to Canada with our two sons and our cat.

Tell me about your pathway to becoming an illustrator.
I was formerly trained as a sculptor in Montreal, then in Helsinki, Finland, and for the first seven years of my artistic path I created large scale installations and public artworks. When I had my first son, I slowly stepped away from large sculptural projects. I started making collages and illustrations, first as a creative outlet, and then it slowly became my work! My body of work now includes product and pattern designs, book covers and illustrations, as well as murals.

What is your creative process? Talk me through it.
Because my past was as a sculptor, I still love to start everything by hands. That is why every project starts with scissors, colourful paper and a playful collage session. Most times I do not have a precise idea in mind when starting a new composition and I just play around with paper cut-outs. Each work is then translated digitally as an illustration or pattern before I work on the colour palette (one of my favourite parts). I love colours, but usually only work with three to four colours per design.

It has been a difficult 12 months for everyone due to a global pandemic and everyone has faced a lot of uncertainty. What has changed for you due to COVID-19? And how have you adapted your work to manage during this time?

2020 is actually the year where I started working full time as a freelance illustrator! And to be honest, despite a few hurdles, it has been a great year professionally. On a more personal level, it’s been tough of course, but having little kids around always help me bring my focus back on the important stuff (with my work and with my life).When and how did you meet Nerida Hansen? Were you familiar with Nerida Hansen Fabrics?

We met via Instagram back in 2018! I have always been a fan of her company – there is no other that matches her bold and colourful fabrics!
Your designs have graced everything from dog collars to socks to science book covers to wall murals. What has been your most unique project?
It is hard to say, as all projects are unique. This is actually what I love most about the work that I do, that I get to illustrate so many different things, from kids’ books to murals, to clothings and accessories!
Describe your typical day.
I start working around 9.30am, after school and kindergarten drop-offs and working out. I usually start my work day with 30 minutes of admin stuff, such as answering emails, sending invoices, etc., to get that out of the way. After that I start my creative work (commissions or personal projects) until about 3.30/4.00pm. Then it’s all about the kids until 8.00pm!
Who or what has inspired you the most to date and why? Whose careers do you follow?
I don’t think I have one major inspiration. I have been inspired a lot by the different places and cities I have lived in throughout my life: Montreal, Finland, California, Vienna… As for the people whose career I follow, here are some of my favourite women illustrators: Leena Kisonen, Wensi Zhai, Monika Forsberg, Ingela Pahrhus, Hsinpingpan, Ana Popescu, Claire Ritchie, Olya Tsikhanchuk – to name a few.

Do you have a dream collaboration or project?
I would love to illustrate a cookbook.

What is in the pipeline for you for 2021?
Beautiful collaborations and product designs!

Name three words that best describe your style of art.
Bold, colourful and playful.

What advice would you offer to those that are starting out as an artist?
Practice every day, develop your craft and share your work as much as possible (even if you are not ready!).

Explore Myriam’s latest stand-out collection for Nerida Hansen Fabrics at www.neridahansen.com.au.

Words by Jacqui Taylor

@helsinkimonamour
@hansenprintandtex