As one of the most densely populated social media platforms online, Instagram is the place where artists nowadays go to share their work in hopes that it will reach as many individuals as possible. There are very few, however, that manage to break through the crowd and leave behind a recognizable artistic and digital footprint.
Emilie Gignac is one of them.
Born and raised in the capital of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Emilie is a French-Canadian who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Ottawa, with a specialization in painting. She also has a minor in Cinematography. Emilie’s brush leaves a distinctive trace on the canvas and once you get to know her work, you will be able to instantly recognize her aesthetic and her painting technique anywhere you see it. You will stop scrolling down you Instagram feed (@paremilie) to admire the way she layers colors to produce art that has a serene quality to it, yet, at the same time, explodes with emotions.
Emilie’s Instagram presence began with fashion when she started documenting her outfits. Then, she slowly started infusing art in her feed as she shared her artwork and her creative process. Nowadays, her content mainly focuses on her art which honestly feels like a blessing to any space that gets to display it. At the age of 24, she is already such an accomplished artist, so naturally, we wanted to know about her beginnings.
All photos courtesy
of Emilie Gignac
Dilek: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Emilie: This may sound unusual, but I knew I wanted to be an artist since the age of three. Normally, children of that age tend to draw an abundant amount of large scribbles on a piece of paper. I, however, would spend hours drawing Disney characters and paid attention to details by using various colors and considering the characters’ proportions.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
I am influenced by many artists, from Jacob Hashimoto’s light three-dimensional structures to Alex Janvier’s paintings, and everyone in-between.
Tell us a little about your career. How do you seek out opportunities and what is the best way for the contemporary canvas artist to reach their collector base in this digital age?
Most days of the week I am in the studio, painting. Whenever I am not in the studio, I am either meeting with interested collectors, developing ideas for new creative projects, or seeking inspiration. My best advice is to document and share your process! There are so many digital (and physical) platforms out there waiting for you. I know that sharing an artistic practice takes a certain amount of vulnerability, especially if the artist is hesitant to share the experimentation phase(s) of their work. However, in my opinion, the experimentation process is the most intriguing and integral part of an artist’s practice. Don’t wait for that ‘perfect moment’ to begin documenting and sharing your work. Begin now, and you will notice that reaching a collector base in this digital age is much easier than it seems.
We discovered you through your beautifully curated Instagram feed which, in the past, used to feature more photos of you and your outfits whereas now you have transformed it into a portfolio of your work. Why the change and how has Instagram helped your career as an artist?
Great question! I love fashion and always will. I have always regarded fashion as the paint waiting to be applied to our very own canvas. With fashion, we can express ourselves on a day to day basis through a never-ending variation of patterns, textures, colors, and more. I began documenting my outfits at a very young age and eventually, transferred this practice to Instagram.
The idea was to slowly merge artwork into my feed, as I was still trying to establish the root of my practice. I spent the last year of my undergrad developing a highly textured, complex layering system for paintings on wooden panels, and I absolutely fell in love with the process of creation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue painting these due to the toxicity of the mediums and their effects on my health. I spent about two years trying to find a way to convert the concepts and the process from my previous practice into a new one by using new materials.
Mid-2017, I realized that I needed to use my time more efficiently if I wanted to pursue my dream of being a full-time artist. The decision to pursue artistic projects and minimize the fashion-related content I was putting out completely changed the progression speed for my career as an artist. My artwork began reaching more and more people, new and exciting opportunities presented themselves, and I was able to really connect with my collector base.
“The decision to pursue artistic projects completely changed the progression speed for my career as an artist. My artwork began reaching more and more people.“
When on the topic of Instagram, you often share videos of your unique creative process. How does it feel to share your creative process with the public?
What I am noticing is that more and more contemporary artists are sharing their creative process. The “how” and “why” of an artist’s work is directly being addressed through live videos, time-lapse videos, and the occasional lengthy caption that attempts to further explain the work in question. When I began sharing time-lapse videos of myself painting, it allowed the viewer to step into my studio for a moment. They became a part of the process.
Although this might be hard, what would you say has been your most memorable work so far?
If I had to choose one, I would say Un petit train va loin, 36” x 48”, acrylic on canvas, 2017. I created this piece when I was in a creative rut and decided to paint over a landscape of Austria that I had recently completed. I filmed this process in a time-lapse video and it caused quite the commotion. Although I was very happy with the result of the new painting created by “covering-up” an old one, many individuals from the Instagram community felt differently. It was interesting because I had never really received criticism and praise at the same time. I really enjoyed seeing other people’s perspectives and the modes of thinking some may have when it comes to abstraction. It made me fall even deeper in love with abstract and the complete refusal of representation.
You offer clients the possibility to commission their own original paintings. Do you feel like you can fully exercise your creativity with commissioned pieces or do you often face difficulties?
I used to be a little bit against the idea of commissions. After fulfilling a few requests, I soon realized that they completely fed my artistic practice. Creating for myself is one thing, creating for another is a completely different experience. I work very well when I am being held accountable for something. I have pushed myself and my practice beyond my usual limits to develop and create pieces that were completely unique for my collectors (while staying true to my concepts).
“I have pushed myself and my practice beyond my usual limits to develop and create pieces that were completely unique for my collectors (while staying true to my concepts).”
As a young artist yourself, can you share with us some of the challenges of pricing your work, especially when you are starting out? What advice would you give young aspiring artists on the topic?
Ah, yes, the difficulties of pricing. My advice to young aspiring artists is to create a detailed formula based on the costs of your materials and time. This is only the first portion of your formula. The second considers you, your needs, and your practice. I suggest taking an entire work day, or two, to establish this formula. It should include many variations and it should be well structured and tailored for you. This formula will prove to be an incredibly useful tool and will grow with you over time.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to have my own shoppe – one that doubles as an art studio. I would also love to travel across North-America to paint large-scale murals.
Thank you for all your valuable insights, Emilie. We are sure a lot of young artists reading this interview have already learned many valuable lessons. Before we part, we would like to know if there are any women, perhaps fellow artists, that inspire you every day?
Danielle Krysa inspires me every day with her beautifully (and witty) curated contemporary website: www.thejealouscurator.com. I am also inspired by Audrey Hepburn. Not many people are aware that she loved to draw and used art as a form of therapy. She loved gardens, animals, children and art. I’ve always felt heavily inspired by her.
Find more of Emilie’s work on paremilie.com