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Interview with Joannie Houle

Get to know the passionate woman behind the illustrations of this month’s beauty box!

Native to the Lanaudière region and living in Montreal, artist and illustrator Joannie Houle gets her inspiration from the beauty and colors of nature in order to create.

sowimage Joannie Houle

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a self-taught artist. I’ve always been very artistic; from a young age, I was already attracted to the visual arts, but also by the cinema, dance, music… Art has always been a part of me. I’m very sensitive, emotional and always looking for more depth and meaning in my life as well as in my work.

 

You talk about art and illustrating with palpable passion. Did you always know you wanted to become an artist?

No! I studied marketing. When I entered the work force, I was using art to escape, relieve my anxiety and get away from it all. I quickly realized that working in an office wasn’t for me.

 

HOW DID YOU MAKE THE TRANSITION TO A CAREER AS AN ILLUSTRATOR?


At first, I was painting more than anything else. My work has been exhibited in several galleries in Montreal and Quebec, then I slowly started to turn to illustration through an Etsy boutique. Unlike paintings, illustrations are more affordable and accessible. Selling online allowed me to reach a greater audience and become better known to, eventually, do freelance contracts, posters, textile illustrations, collaborations with companies and all sorts of other projects.

Not only was I able to express my creative side but I also found my bachelor’s degree in marketing to be very useful for the management of what would become my company in 2015. I’m a very anxious but very organized person. I need this structure to create in peace.

You’ve been talking about anxiety; in what way did your art influence or was influenced by your own experience with mental health issues? 

At the time I started illustrating, right in the middle of a major professional reassessment, I was also going through some intense turmoil in my personal life. I was suffering from panic attacks, generalized anxiety, insomnia… Art saved me in a way. It’s well known that it has beneficial effects on mental health. As for me, it helped me center myself, find balance and well-being; it’s through art that I learned to surpass myself and rebuilt my self-esteem.

Creating gives me joy but also the energy I need to keep moving forward. It wasn’t easy to admit that I hadn’t taken the right decisions regarding my career but by experimenting with different mediums and styles, I found my identity and learned how to follow my instincts. Ultimately, art became both my new purpose in life and the tool that would allow me to pick myself back up.

 

What are your main sources of inspiration?

Nature! Plants, flowers, colors, details, creatures. Beyond the beauty of what nature holds, there is also its strength and diversity. I love birds, for their beauty and the sense of freedom that they evoke. I also love design and beautiful things. I like keeping up with the trends and it influences the colors and styles of my illustrations.

sowimage Joannie Houle
sowimage Revivre

Why did you choose the Revivre organization?

It’s an organization that helps people living with anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. They provide invaluable help to people in need. When I, myself, was suffering from depression and anxiety, I had the immense chance of being in the care of extraordinary people who did everything they could to help me. They took care of me and allowed me to question myself, rebuild myself and move forward with the next step in my life. It means a lot to me to know that people like them dedicate their lives to helping other people.

Mental health affects everybody, directly or indirectly. Stories like mine are a part of life and something positive can come out of it, as long as we have access to the necessary support. I received it when I needed it and I believe that everyone should get that chance.

 

Follow Joannie on her creative journey! 

Check out her work and online shop  www.joanniehoule.com 

Follow her on Instagram 

 

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