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A French artist uses illustrations to challenge gender norms for females

Most women in today’s society believe they are under constant pressure to look their best at all times, 365 days a year. Society’s strict standards and high expectations for women have sadly become the norm, and even young girls are beginning to feel the effects. Of course, I think we can all agree that human action is not always a choice. When it comes to sustaining traditions and culture, human conduct is frequently automatic, unplanned, and based on the expectation that others expect us to act in a certain way. Even when gender doesn’t seem to be a factor, it has the potential to be so. 

Cécile Dormeau, a French artist and illustrator, uses her art to challenge stereotypes and, ideally, transform them in order to improve how men and women perceive one another without any discrimination and prejudices.

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We reached out to Cécile to inquire her of the artist’s influences, to see if any had aided in the development and refinement of her style.

“In terms of aesthetic influences, I’ve always been inspired by comics, from Claire Brétécher to Riad Sattouf, Marjane Satrapi, but also illustrators like Tomi Ungerer and Sempé… I’ve always admired artists who were adept at capturing the absurdities of daily life in their works. The comic Agrippine by Claire Brétécher, in particular, has had a profound influence on me because it depicts women as they truly are. The way Nikki de Saint Phalle honored femininity was always one of my favorite things about her work.”

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The practice and creation of art, in whatever form, necessitate a significant investment of time. We thus asked Dormeau how long it takes her to complete one of her illustrations.

“It takes me a few hours, sometimes less, but a lot longer for my gifs because I’m not a professional animator. Finding the proper concept takes more time for me since I write down everything that comes to me when an idea comes to me, and I sometimes have to sort them to determine which ones are more intriguing.”

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As previously noted, creative work can result to burnout, so we asked the artist how she handled it as well.

“In reality, yeah!” In September, I’ll release a video in which I discuss creative block. After a year of juggling work-related creative endeavors that weren’t very inspiring, as well as the constant Instagram demands (to post and receive likes on a regular basis), I found myself lacking inspiration. During the pandemic, I found myself lacking the will to develop anything new. However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is how life operates: in cycles.

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We also inquired about the artist’s Instagram account and the motivation behind it.

“When I was out of work and desperate for work, I began to create illustrations and post them on Tumblr and afterwards on Instagram. I used Instagram as a productivity tool by posting regularly. It was a daily habit for me to post a drawing every day at the beginning, and it really helped me to create my own style and ideas, and to maintain that daily practice.”

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It’s not simple to start a career in digital painting or art in general, so we asked the skilled illustrator how she got her start in the field.

“I used to work for an advertising firm, where my illustrations were more in the vector style. I despised it, so I switched back to a style that used black outlines and was less static. I imagine that as an artist, you’re constantly experimenting with new forms of expression in your work in order to stay motivated and avoid being bored with the same old thing over and over again. I’ve been known to put down my iPad and pick up a paintbrush or a pair of felt pens when I want to try something new.”

Curiosity, the pursuit of beauty, and even purpose can motivate artists. As a result, we also spoke with Dormeau about it.

“I believe I try to put more emphasis on the meaning when I write. In a way, I want my artwork to be a virtual hug that says, “It’s ok.” As previously stated, I like the concept of ‘you’re never alone,’ and if people can identify themselves and laugh about it, I’m glad!”

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More info: Instagram | cecile-dormeau.tumblr.com | boredpanda

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