We know her clear line, her lively palette, her sense of narration, both fluid and ironic, where typography and calligraphy contribute to the impact. Sometimes the written message breaks down into the four corners of her rectangle and is read in a loop, like a vinyl record that never stops. Music is a big thing in the artistic life of Raphaëlle Macaron. Here, she confides in Pulse about her curiosity, her need for musical discoveries. She says she always brings back a lot of traditional music from the countries she travels to. She also says that this music accompanies her, brings out new landscapes and colors in her drawings.
Plants I had never seen before”
And speaking of travel, the illustrator, born in Lebanon where she studied graphic design before settling in Paris, has just returned from Mexico and Los Angeles where she spent two months. “I had been to LA where I had a small exhibition, and I realized that I could work remotely, from anywhere. So I took the opportunity to drop by Mexico,” she says. An important detail, as it was before leaving LA that she received an email from Gucci. The luxury house was interested in her work and asked her to collaborate on the launch campaign of two pairs of eco-friendly sunglasses, one for women and another for men in recycled, sustainable and eco-responsible materials.
In Mexico, it was spring and I discovered an extraordinarily rich nature, plants that I had never seen before. Gucci asked for something floral, a vegetal, natural palette, and I already had my documentation”, smiles the artist, grateful “to have the chance to invest her inspirations in commissioned projects”. She adds that she composed three new typographies of the Gucci logo, integrated into her designs, which have been approved despite the highly codified aesthetics of the house.
LA, pastels and vintage cars
At Gucci, they loved her work on the sunglasses capsule, three illustrations, including one animated. And as the house run by Alessandro Michele always has a thousand projects lined up, they immediately commissioned a new collaboration, this time a little larger, for a capsule of accessories dedicated, as part of the SS22 collection, to a Chinese Valentine’s Day, which falls on May 20, or 520, a number that sounds like “I love you” in Mandarin. Eight illustrations were ordered, including three animated ones, the instruction was to stage the pieces within the capsule, called “Blooming Love”, in a natural and floral, slightly ethereal setting.
“In LA, the architecture, the landscapes, the vintage cars especially, had already nourished me with these pastel colors that I am not used to using. As I didn’t want to repeat myself, and this time I had carte blanche, I stepped out of my comfort zone. No typography this time, but a pastel palette and the happiness of working on a project that took me where I am not used to going,” Macaron says of the project.
The Gucci spirit
A committed artist, Macaron is always present when it comes to supporting the causes close to her heart through her drawings: feminism, social justice, the fight against global warming, racism and homophobia are all passions. “Growing up in Lebanon gave me, unfortunately, a lot of opportunities to do that. I really care about it, it’s my identity as an artist and as a woman,” she says. She also claims to strongly believe that she belongs to “a stream of young women who empower each other, a Lebanese youth who had an impetus to use art as a platform for denunciation. That’s how I manage my emotions and my neuroses,” she confides to us.
On her relationship to fashion, the artist says that it resembles her relationship to music, to her artistic style, “an osmosis with a place, a moment, but also a personal expression that unfolds around the faults that I try to hide by diverting or circumventing them”. Returning from Mexico with a suitcase of records, Macaron embodies the free and quirky spirit of Gucci in her own way.
Illustrator for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Society Magazine, AIGA, Eye on Design and Punch, among others, she continues the path her pencils draw, as long as travel, landscapes, places, new music, and people remain the engines of her inspiration.