This month we are tickled to be able to highlight our graphic design intern extraordinaire, Normandie Luscher as our illustrator feature of the month! If you missed the book club artwork she did for Leonardo da Vinci yesterday, check it out! Normandie is incredibly talented and splits her time between the east coast and her hometown here in the west. Between art school in Maryland, interning at Lars, and a million other projects in between, she keeps super busy! She shares her insights on the importance of work (and trust us, she works hard!), and being open to opportunities. Be sure to take a look at her portfolio and Instagram to see more of her lovely work!
Now let’s dive into the interview!
1. How did you get your start as an illustrator? How did your illustrative style develop?
There was never one moment where I thought, this is it! Now I’m an illustrator! I would presume that building a career in any field is a culmination of many hours of work and persistence and experiences, which has been the case with my work. As I put my work out into the world either through local art shows or international competitions or through social media, I started getting work either by a friend of a friend or by asking for opportunities and sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t. I think as a whole that continuing to make work and connecting with people naturally enables opportunities. I’m still at the beginning of my career so I’m not an expert, but I believe in the power of showing up and putting in the time and continuing to move forward.
2. How do your experiences (your childhood, living on the East Coast) influence your illustrations? Where do you turn for inspiration?
I love the east coast! The humidity kills me in the summer but it draws me back in every fall and makes me love it again each year. The landscape is just my favorite and I’m sure it has influenced my love of decorative designs and florals.
I would say though that my source of inspiration is as eclectic as my playlists, which are really eclectic. I love classical music, led zeppelin and right now especially kpop. My design inspiration is the same. I love graphic design, architecture, stand-up comedy, classic novels, fashion and just anything and everything that I come across. I think I’m also really inspired by the colorful people in my own life. They inspire me to embrace life and to be myself and that definitely affects my artwork for the better.
3. How do you manage to maintain your personal style while working for other people?
Luckily I feel like I’ve been able to work with people who gravitate towards my style. I don’t feel like I need to change my work too much to fit a prompt and I try to figure out how my work fits within the prompt instead. If there is ever a prompt that feels too far outside of what I do or too gimmicky, then I usually turn that job down or suggest another artist that I think would accommodate the prompt more appropriately.
4. How much value do you place on attending art or design school?
I feel like art school has been invaluable for me, though I know I’ve been really really lucky and privileged to have the training that I’ve had and to have parents who see the value in art education, or at least they see my love for making art and haven’t deterred me from attending art school.
I know some people that have done just fine without art school, but I find that I really thrive in a university setting and I feel so inspired by my peers, professors, and students. I am having so much fun in grad school because it has given me the freedom to really explore and stop worrying about what anyone else wants me to make and to just play and have fun. I didn’t realize that I needed that push to let go of other’s expectations.
I’ve always liked to draw people. When I was in high school I would draw very technically, but once I got to undergrad I kind of rebelled against drawing realistically and I’ve continued to embrace a style that is quirky, which I think is fitting of my personality.
6. Have you had any major setbacks on the road to where you are now and how did you overcome them?
My main setback these days is just being tired, which has been a newer trial in the past few years as I am no longer a constant ball of energy. My solution has been more naps and not being afraid to leave the party early.
But my drive to create has never stopped and I don’t anticipate that it ever will. I don’t know if I have enough time in this one lifetime to create all of the ideas that I have in my brain currently, and I know I’ll have five new ideas next week. That is probably my biggest motivator and my biggest flaw is that I can’t stop wanting to make everything. I could probably do better at focusing on one thing, but it’s just not how I work.
7. You’ve had a lot of experience in various fields of the design world. What have been your favorite or most memorable experiences?
I really enjoyed doing fun and experimental textile designs and completely diving into the world of fashion as a novice. It was fun to not worry about any rules and to just make something that I personally thought was cool. It’s something I would like to circle back to at some point, although the world of fashion business is a bit daunting.
I also loved that in New York I could stumble into really unexpected but amazing opportunities. I loved working with the team at Anthropologie and stepping up to bat each day with so many inspiring people that taught me so much.
8. Social media gives people a much larger platform to display their work. What are the pros and cons of being so visible?
I go back and forth on how I feel about social media all the time. It’s a love/hate relationship for sure. I love how I can find new artists I would never have seen otherwise and to have a constant onslaught of new inspiration. But that constant onslaught is also extremely overwhelming and I think because everyone is so tapped in, it can be difficult for the market to not become saturated with similar images and different creator’s work starts to blend together. Then I end up having an existential crisis asking myself, do I like making this work or am I being subconsciously drawn towards a zeitgeist??
Grad school has also been helpful in encouraging me to look inside of myself and my own experiences and draw from that instead of worrying if I’m keeping up with the social media Joneses. It keeps me from being derailed and to have a healthier relationship with the Instaworld and to keep making work that is hopefully genuine and unique.
9. Where do you see yourself in the future and what do you hope to accomplish with your career?
I have some pretty life-sized dreams, which is a double-edged sword. Having great expectations leaves a lot more room for disappointment, but I think I would just never be happy unless I tried to make big things happen. If aiming high leads to landing among the stars, I think I would be ok with that. And then if I end up on the moon or the sun then I’m fine with that too.
Right now I’m having a ton of fun writing stories for a graphic novel I’m working on and I have a few more stories floating around in my brain that I would love to illustrate and publish and if they turn into film adaptations, who am I to stop them? I also always want to dress more flamboyantly and I wouldn’t mind more textile experimentation and/or product development. I also hope to teach in some shape or form. It’s so much fun to me to see students try things out and ask questions and make such cool art!
My dreams embody my all-over-the-placeness, but I’m optimistic that having large and broad dreams will lead to fun adventures, which they already have, so I’m not too worried!
Huge thank you to Normandie for participating in this interview and creating beautiful things!