Alycia Rainaud on becoming an independent director and how psychology has influenced her creative journey

During the week, we spoke to Alycia Rainaud who is a French Graphic Designer and Digital Artist based in Montreal. Alycia graduated in June 2018 with a Master Degree in Graphic Design as well as a thesis dealing with the analogy between Book's shaping and Psychology. She recently started working as an independent director in January 2019. Her work is mainly focused on putting together editorial design, mental processes and visual experiments through a highly saturated yet dark aesthetic. Inspired by Jungian therapy, meditation, creative exercises and colour therapy; Maalavidaa also aims to be considered as a tool for self-expression as well as a way to raise emotional intelligence and mental health sensitivity.

Tell us about your transition from studying Graphic Design to becoming an independent director

I’m really grateful to say that things flowed quite naturally. Being active in the online graphic design community has always been something I was interested in, even as a student. I feel like trying and sharing my work out there at such early stages of my journey had a huge impact on where I’m at today.

Now, of course, sharing your work with strangers online can be intimidating because we all fear judgment at some point, especially as a young designer. But finding enough strength and courage to do so has definitely shaped a path I wasn’t expecting myself to take. I remember starting to be active and vocal about my work in 2016, at the same time I begin to dive into digital art. By doing so, I’ve been slowly able to build a following and attract client work.

From 2016 to 2018, I basically worked on my thesis at day time and started freelancing on evenings and weekends. As stressful as it was, I felt so glad that I was given a chance and enough trust to show that I could also be a professional. It felt so rewarding, and it always does, whenever someone is willing to allow me to bring their vision to life.

I eventually ended up finishing my thesis in 2018 with enough following and work support for me to just focus on being an independent director right after graduating. I’m not gonna lie, it felt really strange at first not to look for a « proper job » and take such risks when everything was still so uncertain. But I’ll do it again if I had to. I’m so proud of where I’m at right now, even if it’s a hard thing to admit.

How much has psychology influenced your creative practice?

It’s no secret that psychology has been a major influence throughout my creative journey. From early visual experiments to writing a thesis on the analogy between books and psyche. I’ve always been eager to learn more about an individual’s mental processes since I was a teenager. And so, I guess that I’m the type of person who always tries to put all of their inspirations together, even if they don’t seem to be a good match at first. I like the idea of an unstable practice that raises questions on its topic as well as its creator.

Practices are witnesses of who we are as individuals, they tell a story of our past experiences and show the layers of an inherent process. But of course, having a close relationship with anxiety and depression has definitely shaped the way I apprehend the act of creating. The boundaries between me, my disorders, and my work are almost non-existent at that point. Because everything is intertwined, and I feel like it would be a mistake to try and dissociate these aspects. This is what I learned while practicing Jungian therapy, which has been an amazing source of inspiration for my work as well.

Constantly learning about my inner world and the outer world has made such a difference in my creative process and the way I share these bits and bobs with others. It not only makes me question how my process has healing and meditative properties but also how I can convey such emotions without words. And I feel like somehow, it resonates within people because we all are connected through the same feelings.

What’s your favourite part of the design process?

Technically, I’d say that the digital post-production part is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love how working with analog materials makes me feel. I previously mentioned that there’s a sense of meditation in working back and forth with tangible and digital materials. But I also feel that the process would be incomplete without translating its primary form through the digital realm.

Getting to work around different color schemes and experiment with movements without any pressure of messing a painting is super important to me. I’m such a perfectionist that I need to have enough room for freedom in order to reach a certain level of satisfaction with the piece I’m creating. I feel like I haven’t been able to satisfy this need without the use of post-production and that’s totally fine because it just shaped my process as it is now. 

Tell us more about the design process of your print

It’s always about finding that balance between the amount of tangible and digital treatment you’re putting into the piece itself. For this one — and usually — I’m experimenting with different kinds of paints, mixing mediums and inks on canvas. Once I’m fine with the general movement and details, I let it dry then digitalize it via photographs or scans.

Then comes the fun part where I can take the design to a completely different level by enhancing random movements in Processing, lighting in C4D, and colors in Photoshop. To be honest, it might just depend on the piece I’m working on as well as my current mood. Sometimes I barely edit the painting and sometimes it’s barely recognizable. 

What are you working towards at the moment?

I’m always looking for new ways of putting back my art into the tangible realm. It’s a never-ending back and forth. I’m constantly wondering about which material I could use to print my designs on, how I could make them move in different ways, how to make them exist in the real world and create new emotional experiences for people.

For example, one of my obsessions at the moment is to make murals/street art. I’d be super curious to see the reaction towards such result. Would folks take pictures in front of these? Would they find it weird? Would it make them remember something they felt last week? The possibilities are endless and I’m here to experiment with all of them until I’ll be proud and kind enough to myself.