Rosemarie Auberson on staying fragile, unfinished, and voluntarily imperfect.

Rosemarie Auberson is a Paris based art director and illustrator whose clients include Hermès, Givenchy, and Rachel Comey, among many others. Every piece of work she lays her hands on seems to end up perfectly mussed & enviously undone, and we dream of of her collages in a way that is possibly becoming unhealthy. She also works on two of the most beautiful online journals we’ve ever come across…check them out and prepare to fall into an internet hole of epic proportions.

Q / Hi Rosemarie. Hope you are having a good morning! How do you usually start your day?
A / Coffee and tartines while listening to radio and a shower.

Q / Do you have a daily uniform? Anything you carry with you every day?
A / Easy and comfortable, pants and sweater are my favorites. I always have my iPhone with me…to text and take pictures…

Q / Is there a time of day that allows you to feel most productive?
A / Morning is always the best moment to work for me.

Q / Do you find lists helpful? How do you keep yourself organized with all the projects you have going on?
A / I should make more lists. A list in the morning to plan the day is a good way to be more organized, but I don’t do it enough unfortunately! I am very instinctive in the way I work unless I have a short deadline, and in that case I am doing only one thing, the most urgent.

“I am very instinctive in the way I work unless I have a short deadline, and in that case I am doing only one thing, the most urgent.”

Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / Maybe I have good intuition and I struggle with my own doubts…

Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously? Something that’s very important to you?
A / I will never take fashion too seriously but at the same time fashion and clothes are very important too!

Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / Home or I go for a walk.

Q / What is your favorite way to disconnect and relax?
A / Reading, movies, walks, and when it is possible, traveling is my favorite way to disconnect…

Q / What do you like most about illustration? What is the most challenging thing about it?
A / Doing some collages or paintings or drawings is the best moment to be with myself, connected with my mind. The most challenging thing is doing what you have in your head. That’s the point…there is a big difference sometimes between what is in your mind and what you are doing. It seems natural and easy, but it’s not. It can be painful and it is a very long process.

“…there is a big difference sometimes between what is in your mind and what you are doing. It seems natural and easy, but it’s not.”

Q / How do your illustrations factor into your work as an art director?
A / Both are visual, but illustration is a more personal way to work than the commissioned work of art direction. As an art director, you have to think according the subject, the clients, and the needs. Illustration is something more intimate and personal. It is a kind of breath which can inspire the artistic direction.

Q / Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing in Switzerland and how it led to your current career?
A / I started to study art and art history in Geneva, then I came from Switzerland to study art and design in Paris. There were more opportunities in Paris to work, so I preferred to stay.

Q / What led you to Paris and how is it different from where you grew up?
A / Paris is a very inspiring city. Museums, fashion, art…culture is everywhere here and I love the energy and the beauty of this city. Switzerland is beautiful too, much more relaxed and less sophisticated. It’s a perfect place for a holiday, but to work and live, I prefer Paris for the moment.

Q / You have developed a strong presence in both the fashion and art worlds.  Do you ever find it challenging to strike the right balance between those two industries?
A / I don’t consider myself belonging to either the art world or the fashion world. I am more into something visual that can be applied to different fields and opportunities. Every medium feeds the other one. I need this balance I think. But especially here in France, it isn’t easy to not be specialized in one thing. People are easily confused when you are doing too many different things.

“I am more into something visual that can be applied to different fields and opportunities.”

Q / Was there anyone in your life who shaped your career in a formative way?
A / I would say magazines were very formative. I bought a lot of magazines as a teenager. Then I learned a lot during my first job at a very good art direction and design studio in Paris where I worked for two years. I discovered what exactly art direction is, working with photographers, etc. It was much better than school!

Q / How important do you think it is to work as an assistant or apprentice?
A / This is the best school! Real life. Afterwards, you have to learn to walk by yourself, without any influence.

Q / How did your parents feel about your career path? Does anyone in your family work in the same industry?
A / My father was a teacher and my mother was an artist when she was young. She is Japanese and she came to Paris to work with an artist, met my father and left for Switzerland…but she wasn’t able to pursue her work in Switzerland…or she wanted a change, to start something different. We laugh because it’s as if I am continuing what she has started…my parents were always very supportive.

Q / Do you have anyone who works with you now? If so, in what capacity?
A / Yes, I have different collaborators depending on the work. It is easier to work alone, but sometimes when the job is too big, it’s really good to share different visions.

“This is the best school! Real life. Afterwards, you have to learn to walk by yourself, without any influence.”

Q / Are there any specific references that inspire you or themes you find yourself gravitating to regularly in your work?
A / I think shapes and colors are very important to me.

Q / Do you keep any collections?
A / Not really besides old art books.

Q / How would you define your work?
A / Fragile, unfinished, voluntarily imperfect…

Q / How does your career affect the rest of your life?
A / Maybe it’s not the perfect job to pay the bills. I am living “au jour le jour,” and because it’s a large amount of work that always needs time and reflection, I feel I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything in a good way, personal and professional…I really have to find a solution to these questions.

Q / Do you have a system for creating or it is more of an organic process?
A / Completely organic, an idea or image that makes me think of something etc. etc…

“I am living “au jour le jour,” and because it’s a large amount of work that always needs time and reflection, I feel I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything in a good way.”

Q / How do you find that living in Paris affects your work?
A / I don’t know. I’ve been here for almost twenty years now, maybe I’d have to live elsewhere to see the difference. I am sure it would change something.

Q / Social media and the internet play such a huge part in creative industries. How would you say they factor into your work?
A / Of course there are useful. I cannot imagine doing without them now. You can find so many inspirations, answers on the internet, and you can discover new talents too. It’s a great tool for research, but I will continue buying books and magazines because it’s a different pleasure, a different way to see things.

Q / Is there anything you find problematic about them?
A / Maybe it’s too time consuming…

“You can find so many inspirations, answers on the internet…but I will continue buying books and magazines because it’s a different pleasure, a different way to see things.”

Q / How has the internet changed the way you work?
A / I can save my money to buy only the books I really want to have in my bookshelf. It makes me more selective. Books are for inspirations, internet for research.

Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / Being without wifi for a few days during this summer, I felt really disconnected and it was good! I should do this more often.

Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / It’s a bit too cliché but I do yoga and I just started meditation. But a good glass of wine and a good meal with family and friends is another good way to relax.

Books are for inspirations, internet for research.

Q / What part does beauty play in your work?
A / I like to look for beauty where it is not obvious. Beauty can hide everywhere.

Q / Between the solitary nature of illustration and inherently collaborative process of art direction, which aspect of your career do you enjoy most?  How does this dichotomy factor into the rest of your life?
A / I love both and I need both of them. I need to switch between collaborations and more intimate work, for me it’s a good balance.

Q / What makes you most excited about your work? What gives you the most anxiety?
A / The most difficult part of this work is to be satisfied and proud of what you have done when sometimes the client wants something else. I really need to be satisfied with my work and the biggest challenge is creating the good answers for me and the clients. The most exciting thing is what is coming next. The next adventure…the creative process, inspiration, when the idea arrives…

“I really need to be satisfied with my work and the biggest challenge is creating the good answers for me and the clients.”

Interview
Catherine Litke

Photos
Courtesy of Rosemarie Auberson

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