Michelle Commandeur was a keen cartoonist through school and uni, then got distracted by other things, and has been for the last 15 years busily working in the NGO and corporate worlds.
Over the years she has been commissioned for various illustration work both as a hobby and paid sideline. She has produced myriad works for friends, clubs and associates, as well as illustrating promotional material for two popular Australian science museums and designing cartoons for a number of commercial clients.
Last year various circumstances led her to pick up her illustration again. She has rediscovered a love of cartooning and graphic illustration.
Michelle’s focus is caricature, children’s book illustration and gag/political cartoons.
1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I always enjoyed cartooning and illustration, but got distracted by my corporate career and was not doing much of it! A couple of years ago I had to take some time off work for health reasons, and decided to muddle around with it again. I quickly got some great little projects to work on, and decided I would never let myself be distracted again! Now I run a part-time cartooning/illustration business, while still keeping one foot in the corporate world.
2) Describe your illustration style
Cartoon/caricature, bold colours and ironic themes. Lots of dogs.
3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I listed some of my work online and a few calls started coming in from people who had seen it. Also when I saw how much my work brought joy to people, I realised it was something I could do that was, in a small way, unique and meaningful.
4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
I love political/editorial cartoonists, John Stoneham (Stonie) was the staff cartoonist at the Adelaide News when I was growing up, and I used to cut out his cartoons from the paper and wish I could draw like him. Nowadays I draw inspiration from a large range of people and wish I could draw like all of them!
5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
Have a chat, try to get an understanding of the content and what they are looking for – you often settle on the style together as it starts to take shape. I always want to make sure my client is happy with the work, so give them lots of opportunities to review/comment and make suggestions as I work through sketches to final art.
6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
Illustrating a book of limericks for kids, written by my mum! These pictures were completed when I was quite unwell, and helped get me through some tough times. The primary audience was my two lovely nieces – I hope the book stays special to them as they grow up, and reminds them of their Nanna and Aunty Shell.
7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
I am still an aspiring illustrator myself! I guess the thing I would pass on is the value of continually practicing your art. I am amazed at how much you can improve when you are drawing often and discovering new techniques.
8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Moose & Goose – a work in progress with the author Leah Witton. I love the premise of two very unlikely friends going through life together and supporting each other through the good, bad and hilarious times!
Lic Lic’s Limericks for You – Lic Lic was our family pet when I was growing up, and makes an appearance in all of the limerick illustrations. This is one of my first completed limerick illustrations and for some reason I am very fond of it.
Pevan & Sarah – Bringing the wonderful talents of Pevan & Sarah to life in cartoon characters for their website and materials.
Everybody loves ice-cream – this is based on real characters. It’s hard to be grumpy or menacing when you are enjoying an icecream cone. Lovely stuff.
Should you wish to know more about Michelle Commandeur, here are her pertinent details.
Website: Michelle Commandeur
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