How to do more of what you love, with Caroline Lavergne

Please introduce yourself!

What I do most of the time is work at C2 Montréal, which is an organization that makes great events that we call transformational because we have participants think about concepts and experience them at the same time, which changes the mnemonic process. I’m the Editor in Chief, so I work in content. Before that, I was a freelance consultant helping smaller companies and entrepreneurs  tell their stories and hire the right people for their communications team. In terms of my educational background, I did an MBA, which helped build my confidence and my understanding of what a business problem is and to develop the reflexes to solve them.

What else do you do?

I draw a lot. And I always have. There are pictures of me as a kid, naked and drawing in the garden.

How do you balance having a job with your creative practice?

I like to draw a lot, I really, really do. It’s something that’s completely mine and since I don’t have to do it for a living, I don’t need to get feedback, I don’t need to make it anything other than just drawing. A few years ago, I established a rule that I always needed to have material on hand. So now I always have my kit with me. It’s just a black ink fountain pen that dries really quickly, with some watercolours if I want to add a bit more colour. Now I don’t need an excuse to draw, there’s no set-up time or set-up costs. I don’t need to know what I’m going to draw. If I feel like drawing, I’ll just take out my sketchbook and my little kit—and that gives me a freedom that I don’t really have anywhere else.

I tend to draw whatever is around me. Sometimes I’ll see something and, “oh my god, the line of that nose is insane!” and I just need to draw it. Or the way that the light hits the Adam’s apple of that dude on the bus needs to be immortalized. So I just do it and then it’s done. Flip the page. One of the other things that helped me is I started publishing my drawings on the Internetz. I decided that I wouldn’t wait for something to be a work of art, to just put it out there. I thought, probably nobody’s going to care, but at least it’s out of my system.

You make drawing sound like something you do to keep you happy, healthy—almost like meditation.

I like to do things with my hands. I work a lot with my head, so it’s good to have a dialogue with actual material, physical things that offer resistance to the touch. I also quilt and this past winter, I did quite a bit of needlepoint. Sometimes I just need to do small, repetitive movements with my hands to relax.

What are the connections between what you do professionally and drawing? How do they inform or nourish each other?

I have good observation skills but they definitely were sharpened by drawing. I’ve trained myself to always know who’s in the room, what they look like and what will happen next. Because when you do live sketching, it’s kind of like being a National Geographic photographer. You have to anticipate the next movement of every person. What I’ve realized by drawing is that, if somebody is sitting at a table—or doing anything, really—they will always come back to this one position. So if you wait long enough, and you started drawing that person in one position, just wait a few more seconds and they’ll get back to it. I kind of always know what the situation is, because I can anticipate what everybody’s next move is going to be.

What are your sources of inspiration?

What’s going on around me. I didn’t realize that this was the case while I was doing it. The last few years have really been about sketching, which means studying forms and shapes and expressions and translating them into as simple a line as possible. I wanted to start drawing again, but I didn’t want to be bogged down by subjects and wondering if I was doing something worthwhile. I just draw what’s around me because it’s always relevant, because it’s there and all I have to do is look at it and put it into a drawing.

Would you consider doing this professionally in the future? Or is it really just a private practice?

There’s always this idea in the back of my mind—and I can’t really define it—that whatever I’m doing now, I’m going to turn the page at some point and do more drawings. Maybe it’ll be when I’m 80 and I’ll only draw ugly birds, but I know that I’m going to be very happy when it happens. And I know you’re not supposed to say this part—but I also kind of want to make a bit of money so that I have that liberty to only draw.

I do envy people who have dedicated themselves to art, I have that kind of longing too. I feel like I’m way behind those people, because I’m spending most of my time doing very different things. I’m at a disadvantage in terms of making worthwhile art because I’m not thinking about it enough, so I may as well just derésponsabilise myself and draw noses.

Although it sounds like you have more freedom than others who do put a lot of pressure on themselves to make art…

Definitely! Like I don’t have to choose a shitty art project because I need money, which is great, but maybe I would have learned something if I had to do a bunch of shitty art projects.

What kind of advice would you offer to our readers who are wondering how they’ll get to do the thing they love, in addition to the thing they’re good at?

Look at all the things you’re good at and enjoy doing and then make it as easy as possible. Keeping that kit around really helps. Also, not putting pressure on myself to do something really substantial, because then I can just have fun drawing lines. That’s when my best work has come through, when there’s no pressure.

Having to make decisions for myself, imaging that crossroads, that if I go left or right, life is going to have to be completely different, it’s so terrifying for me. So I don’t know how much advice I could actually give, except just keep a lot of doors open. For myself, I’ve kept as many doors open as possible, for as long as possible, and when I saw opportunities, I just went for the riskiest ones… but I also have privileged little girl complex. My parents were super nurturing, we were comfortable financially… I always thought that I could do anything and they encouraged that. It’s a gift but I know that not everybody has that choice, so any advice that I have to give based on that background is biased. But I always went for the kick-in-the-butt, I always went for something that would shake me, because I wanted to have as many experiences as possible, so I always went for the ones that have nothing to do with what I was doing before.

 

THE BEATRICE QUESTIONNAIRE


1. What is your idea of happiness?

A bed-in.

2. What is your greatest strength?

Observation of people.

3. What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?

Building The Minutes project for C2.

4. What is your most treasured possession?

I know what you’re thinking, my kit. No, not my kit. That’s replaceable. There’s a really nice piece of furniture that comes from my grandfather that I really like. It’s where he kept his apothecary—he was a doctor.

5. Who is your hero?

My boyfriend, Maxime Veilleux, he inspires and drives me. Maxime is actually my favourite artist as a whole, music, visual arts, everything, so whenever I go home, I’m in an artistic context. That helps maintain that balance.

 

Interview by Adriana Palanca and illustration by Mireille St-Pierre.

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