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29 Jul 2019

Interview: In Conversation with Alycia Rainaud

Alycia Rainaud (@maalavidaa) is a digital artist and graphic designer based in Paris, France. We talked with Alycia about balancing her two careers, exploring psychology through art, and channeling her work through different mediums:

You work in both graphic design and digital art-do you find that you’re able to consistently balance the two practices or do you tend to prioritize one over the other?

Hey! First off, thanks a lot for having me:)

That’s an interesting question. I’ve been studying and working as a graphic designer for almost 8 years, but in the meantime, I also fell into digital art 3 years ago. I feel that becoming a double-sided professional has always brought good tension and porosity into my work.

But of course, it’s always about trying to find a balance between both fields. Working as a digital artist for Malavida has considerably changed my way of apprehending boundaries between art and design, and I feel like I’m always more inclined to merge these two topics rather than thinking in a binary way.

To be honest, from an outside perspective, being really devoted to Malavida for the last year has obviously made me prioritize digital art over graphic design. However, besides that, I’m always trying to put together graphic design concepts and projects in order to get back to my roots. There’s something really comforting about the idea of being able to switch from a practice to another. Also, being able to experiment with different mediums and shapes is really helpful and handy for me since my work is mainly focusing on feelings. There are never too many possible options when it comes to visually translating emotions and psychology. I guess that’s why designers tend to call me an artist, then artists will call me a designer. The perception you have of someone’s work is definitely subjective, and since I’m not into labels, I just like to see myself as being both.

Commodifying digital art is a challenge that many emerging media artists face. What made you decide to sell your work on online platforms (such as society6)? What are the pros and cons that you find through these mediums?

As far as I remember, I started selling artworks on POD platforms before I even created Malavida. I was a graphic design student at the time, but I was already creating abstract textures for school projects. I guess that’s pretty much how everything started. Some friends and family mentioned the fact that these pieces could look really cool as prints and products, but let’s be real, I didn’t have a lot of money at the time to get these into self-production. I started browsing for companies and discovered about Print-On-Demand services. Most of the margins were pretty low but I wasn’t really bothered about making any money at this point. The idea of having even one person enjoying my work enough to purchase it was already unbelievable for me. I uploaded a couple of artworks and somehow never stopped doing it.
Long story short, it all sounds pretty exciting but I guess there’s a lot of controversy about POD websites. Best thing, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to bother with manufacturing, shipping, etc. PODs are really convenient if you don’t have a lot of time for marketing but still want to provide great printed artworks options to the people who follow and support you. However, you wanna be careful and aware of the fact that it’s not an exact science. Indeed, margins you’re making on products are usually pretty low, so I guess that making a living just from online platforms is pretty rare. Also, the quality can be really bad on some products so you always wanna be careful with the services you’re choosing. My overall experience with PODs is great so far, but I usually like to reinvest those benefits into self-produced limited editions that are sold on my personal shop such as scarves, holographic prints etc.

You’ve developed a consistent signature style since you started sharing your work on Instagram. Was there a specific piece or moment that prompted this style? Or did evolve over a long period of time? 

From the beginning of this creative journey, I always wanted to find an evolving signature look in order to represent my identity as an individual and my way of perceiving things. I guess that my style has slowly evolved through years of experiments with different techniques (photography, paint, generative softwares…), but I feel like the triggering point might have been when I started to switch from black and white to highly saturated hues. There was something really scary for me about using colors. I was always trying to pinpoint and express deep emotions but I didn’t know how to do it without using dark tones. I mean, being an edgy kid, black has always been my first love. However, with the aim of a non-binary thinking approach, I felt that it was somehow starting to be a little restrictive for my work. Learning how to visualize contrasted and overwhelming emotions with a full-color spectrum has considerably changed and raised my style until now.

Your work is super adaptive to many different canvases (from phone wallpapers, to hybrid books, to skateboards). Was that intentional or did that happen organically? 

Abstract art definitely has that adaptability factor. Most of my work can be stretched, cropped and resized without having to bother with elements getting out of the way. To be honest, I’ve always tried to apprehend work with a transversal approach. Being a print-oriented graphic designer in the first place, I’ve been told that somehow images were meant to take any type of shape. There are no rules ⏤well ok, except for technical rules maybe⏤ when it comes to where your work belongs. Having a process based on the analogy between digital and tangible also helps to be aware of the number of possibilities for an artwork to exist through different mediums. It’s a back  and forth situation. That way, I’m just constantly trying to imagine new ways of merging abstract digital art with physical elements such as augmented books, shifting prints, decks, scarves, etc. Basically, every time I come across a cool object, I like to ask myself « could I merge my work with that? »


Is there a particular artist who inspires you, or whose work you’re excited about?

Obviously, there are so many brilliant and talented artists out there. I always appreciate that question since I can share my love for other’s work, especially Davy Evans, who has inspired me since the beginning. He’s one of my biggest influences ever, alongside Nick Thomm’s color spectrum, Dorian Legret’s edits/textures and Alexy Préfontaine’s (Aeforia) sensitive universe.