In our weekly Featured Shop series, we shine a light on a standout shop from Etsy’s talented seller community, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and story.
Hand-writing a letter to a faraway friend. Taking a detour through an unfamiliar garden. Listening to the birdsong outside your window. These are the sorts of quiet, grounding practices celebrated by Mademoiselleyo, the nature-inspired paper goods shop run by France-based illustrator Yolande Six. Yolande’s cheerful line of botanical art prints, animal-themed calendars, and playfully patterned greeting cards act as beautiful reminders that moments of peace and joy are all around us—even in the midst of a busy, bustling world.
“I like the idea that my drawings can give a little gaiety to everyday life,” says the fine art photographer-turned stationery designer. Today, Yolande’s perpetual calendars wreathed in florals and lighthearted cards adorned with brightly feathered birds delight her devoted customers, who are drawn to their distinctive hand-drawn lines and carefully considered color palette. “The natural elements, the harmony of colors—together it creates a little zen atmosphere with a lot of positive energy,” she says. “I’ve created my own poetic universe—my own botanical world.”
Read on to learn how Yolande creates her enchanting aesthetic through the creative application of pattern, texture, and color, and shop the Mademoiselleyo collection.
When did you first fall in love with illustration?
I began drawing in art school as research for photography. At the time, I was shooting black and white still lifes, and I would draw my staged objects to help flesh out my ideas. Once I decided I wanted to explore illustration a little more, I put my photography exhibits on standby. After that, my husband and I launched a small publishing house and I designed my first calendars and cards to fund our books. That’s when I realized I could open Mademoiselleyo and devote myself full-time to my drawings. Now, in addition to running my business, I’m also a freelance textile designer.
How do you divide your time between your two gigs?
It’s mostly dictated by seasonality. I have to prepare for textile fairs well in advance; I’m actually already developing some artwork for spring and summer 2020. And when I’m working on a seasonal product like a calendar for my stationery, I also work ahead. I begin drawing in June so that the calendar is in the shop by September. I have some very loyal customers who have bought my calendars for five or six years, and every August they ask me if the new calendar is ready.
Can you walk us through what it’s like to create a new collection?
For the calendars, I start by developing twelve illustrations—one for each month. For fall months I’ll include animals that represent autumn, like foxes, and for summer months I’ll choose flamingoes, dragonflies, or toucans for my subjects. Once I have twelve ideas, I draw them out and look at how they work all together. If one illustration feels too different from the rest, I’ll start again.
After I have all my drawings, I go over the contours in black felt pen and then I scan them into my computer. The little black lines are sometimes a little clumsy, but I think it gives the pieces a poetic style. Finally, I’ll define a range of colors for the project—blue, green, with a touch of pink, for example—and then I colorize all my illustrations.
Your serene, subtly patterned palette is a hallmark of your designs. How do you colorize your work?
When I choose my colors, that’s the moment when the drawing really begins to take shape. I have my own digital color library that I’ve assembled from colors in magazine photos and papers that I collect. Combined with the color chart in Photoshop, these comprise my painter’s palette for my illustrations.
Sometimes I’ll also draw my own background designs and use them for things like the stripes on my flower pots. For the all-over geometric patterns that I use to color my birds, I start by drawing in my sketchbook and researching associated forms before refining the colors on my computer.
What’s your favorite part of the creative process?
I love playing with color and details. For example, to create shadows and volume for my illustrations, I’ll sometimes draw lots and lots of tiny dots. I’m not sure if everyone sees them because the printed illustrations can be very small, but those details add texture. I also aim for a sense of harmony with the colors.
Can you tell me more about the significance of the natural elements in your work?
I grew up in the campagne, or countryside, so I was very close to nature, which I suppose is why I find it very soothing. I used to garden with my grandfather, and I took photos of leaves. I’ve always been impressed by the forms you can find in the natural world—the mountains and forests—but especially the plants. I’m inspired by their colors and shapes.
What are your other influences?
What inspires me most is reading and going to museums. I’m fascinated by all people who create something, even if it doesn’t have a direct link to my drawings. It’s quite exciting to see others’ artwork; it gets my ideas jostling and makes me want to draw. In Lyon, the walls of my home studio are covered in illustrations, paintings from artists and illustrators, and many books.
I also love collecting papers, cards, and flyers. When I go on a trip, I always come back with a treasure trove of inspiration. The graphics are different in each country—the paper, the colors. In Italy, for example, I bought drawings of the birds that inspired my forms. I’ve also worked off a flyer with a drawing of a bird from the Natural History Museum of Lisbon.
So, what’s next for Mademoiselleyo?
I’m working on a new collection of posters, notebooks, and a birthday calendar with a spiral, as well as a new school calendar. I’ve been thinking about making embroidery patterns and maybe some enamel pins with animals or foliage. I’m also creating a catalogue that specialty retailers can order products from—and why not try illustrating for packaging for tea, chocolate, or soap? Any new challenge for me and my illustrations!
Photographs courtesy of Mademoiselleyo.