Exploring Malika Favre’s vivid illustrations and major collaborations

Illustrative Chronicles: The French illustrator Malika Favre’s design process with powerful graphics and clean geometry is both vibrant and minimalist.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Aug 30, 2022

Malika Favre is a French illustrator and graphic designer residing in Barcelona. She was born in 1982. Her graphic art is defined by absolute minimalism within Pop Art and Op Art, and is frequently referred to as 'Pop Art meets Op Art’. She blends basic images with geometric design and has established a distinct minimalistic art style via the use of positive and negative space and colours, beautiful layouts, and a focus on the feminine form and its contours. Her distinct style has made her one of Europe's most sought-after graphic artists. Among Favre’s clients are The New Yorker, Vogue, BAFTA, Sephora, and Penguin Books.

Mercé, Ayuntamiento de Barcelona CMYK,2021, Digital lllustration, Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Mercé, Ayuntamiento de Barcelona CMYK,2021, Digital lllustration Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

1. Would you consider your work as ‘illustrations’ or ‘art’? Is there a difference according to you?

I prefer not to label it, frankly. I often remember a phrase that I heard somewhere: “Art is about asking questions, design about proving answers”. I like to think you can do both, if the context allows it. A New York cover, for example, is never about giving answers. It serves as a mirror to today’s society and goes beyond the usual brief. In my practice, I try to be honest with myself, genuine with what I believe in and what I want to draw about. I feel very lucky to have reached a point where I am given sufficient freedom to fully express myself. Some might call it illustration, others might consider it art. At the end of the day, I am not sure any of this really matters.   

Lausanne Summer Festival, Garden-Parties, 2018, Digital Illustration, Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
Lausanne Summer Festival, Garden-Parties, 2018, Digital Illustration Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

2. What is at the core of your expression? How do you aspire for your work to be experienced and interpreted?

Reduction and colours are at the core of what I do. I am obsessed by strong, unapologetic colours and especially by the relationship between them. I see colours as an essential part of my work, one that can really strengthen the message or the mood I am trying to convey in a piece. Mystery is a key element as well. I often tend to hide stories within my work. A second layer of narrative that is revealed to the viewer. I am also fascinated by beauty. I see it as a great tool to draw the eye in. Clean lines, bold shapes and limited palettes are my weapons of choice. As to its interpretation, I love the idea of letting the viewer interpret the image for himself, draw the missing lines or decide on its meaning. Once an image is out there, it does not belong to me anymore.

The New Yorker, SpringToMind, 2019, Digital Illustration, Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
The New Yorker, SpringToMind, 2019, Digital Illustration Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

3. Please tell us about your creative journey – how has your style evolved over the years? What/who are your biggest influences?

Finding my style was a long and organic process. I was always fascinated by Op Art and the mathematical principles that allow it to exist. Playing with the viewer’s perception has always been something that fascinated me. Pop art, on the other end was more like a guilty pleasure: the boldness, the colours, the approachability of it is what spoke to me. A style is really the sum of its parts, of everything that resonates with an artist and shaped his vision. I did not engineer mine, it just happened slowly over time.

KAMASUTRA Alphabet, 2013, Digital Illustration, Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles | STIRworld
KAMASUTRA Alphabet, 2013, Digital Illustration Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

4. A body of work you created that you are particularly proud of? Please share details of how you conceived of it.

There were a few key projects in my career, ones that changed its course. One of my favourites was the 2013 Kama Sutra alphabet for Penguin Books and the exhibition project that quickly followed. I felt such joy in drawing these 26 letters out of intertwined bodies. Also, I was just starting out and this felt like the first body of work that truly felt mine. On a profound level. Ironically, this also marks the moment when I decided never to accept commissions for my erotic body of work. I still feel it is too personal and deserves to be protected.

Malika Favre takes us through her creative process Video: Courtesy of Malika Favre

5. An upcoming project that excites you… or an unrealised project that is close to you?

I am currently illustrating an extensive collection of books and very excited about it coming out. It was on my bucket list for a long time: a legacy publishing project. As to what might come next, I feel that I am at a transitional point in my career. A part of me feels that I have drawn everything I wanted to draw, and I find it harder and harder to get excited about illustration projects. I think my dream today would be to move onto creating objects, ceramics, sculptures, furniture even. I am slowly going down that road, one collaboration at a time. We’ll see what the future brings….  

Portrait image of Malika Favre | Illustrative Chronicles| STIRworld
Artist Malika Favre Image: Courtesy of Malika Favre

Click here to read more about Illustrative Chronicles, a collection of STIR articles that examine illustration as a discipline for narrating stories of the contemporary urban.

(Research Support by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))

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