Interview with Illustrator Genevieve Kote

This week I am excited to feature an interview with the talented Genevieve Kote! Genevieve is an illustrator with a very unique, fun, and colourful style who specializes in drawing lively ladies, kids and teens. Her work has appeared in newspapers, parenting and lifestyle magazines, children magazines, puzzles, books and educational manuals. Genevieve is a OCAD graduate and she currently works out of her studio in Québec City.

1. How did you get started as an illustrator?

Genevieve Kote: I studied one year in animation before switching to an illustration program at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Got my degree but did odd jobs here and there at first, nothing linked to my studies. I was working on my portfolio on the side and around Christmas decided to send an illustrated card to my favourite rep. She replied almost right away and that’s how it started. First year was pretty hard, I did not have many pieces in my portfolio in that particular style so it started slow.

2. Your illustration style is so colourful and expressive, and I especially enjoy looking at all of the unique outfits and hairstyles you give your characters. Has this always been your natural illustration style, or is it something you consciously developed and/or had to work on?

GK: I had to work on the style a lot, in school I was mostly doing traditional painting. In the last year I took an independent study class to experiment in Photoshop. I was really bad at first but it freed me from my old style. I think I was working with just a mouse back then. Style evolved gradually after that, tries and errors. For clothes and hairstyle I look on the internet, pinterest, clothing shops websites etc…

3. Can you describe the processes you go through when working on an illustration from start to finish?

GK: First, I read the specs and specific guidelines by the Art Director. Then I do roughs on paper, I am still not comfortable drawing directly on the tablet. Scan the roughs, wait for approval or corrections by the AD. Then colours in Photoshop with the paintbrush tool.

4. What is a typical work day like?

GK: Wake up sort of late, I am more of a night owl 😛 Coffee and breakfast sometimes in front of the computer, checking emails and social media sites. Then I plan the day, if it’s a busy day I will be in front of the computer most of the day, but I try to go outside everyday otherwise I feel like I’m a zombie. I work from home so it’s sometimes hard to have a good work / life balance. Take some breaks to pet the cat, eat, talk to friends etc…

5. Whose work do you admire? Who or what inspires you from outside your own medium of work?

GK: So many people! Lately I am very interested in screen printing so I look at a lot of gig posters artists: Telegramme Studio, Methane Studios, Little Friends of Printmaking… Also I still have a big place in my heart for animation, I collect “the art of…” books, they are filled with incredible art, this blog: showcases so many great artists too! I am also inspired by movies and podcasts I listen to.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator? -In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?

GK: Try to keep a good work / life balance. Might be a good idea to have a studio outside of your home to force you to get out and have the feeling that you are going to work like everybody else. And do stuff just for you, just for fun otherwise you might lose the spark.

7. Where would you like your work to lead you? What are your plans for the future?

GK: Well I really love the clients I have right now, and the age range I get to illustrate, preteen girls is such a good fit I enjoy it very much. I want to promote more this year expand the client list a bit. And I want to get better, still feel like I am just learning to draw sometimes. Want to do images more in the style of my roller derby poster. And try to sell prints like that. Will see how it goes! It’s tough making plans for the future in this profession I find. You never know. My plans are more personal life oriented like continue travelling, upgrade the apartment etc…

8. Do you have any upcoming books or projects you can tell us about?

GK: I just had a children’s book that came out in Quebec and I worked for a video game company this summer but the game is not out yet. I illustrated stories that will appear in American Girl magazine in the next months.

Thanks for the interview Genevieve, it’s always great to talk with a fellow OCAD alumni!

Genevieve’s website
Genevieve’s blog