Joris Munier is a professional illustrator specializing in watercolor technique. Originally from Brittany, France, he has traveled and worked widely in Europe and is currently based in Boston, MA. After completing an illustration degree at École Pivaut in 2013 in Nantes, Joris spent three years teaching drawing and watercolor painting at L’Académie Cultura in Bordeaux and did his first book illustration commission “Légende de la Ville d’Ys” for the popular French publisher Gisserot. Since then, Joris has built up a diverse list of clients, including the theater of the Comédie des Champs-Elysées in Paris, various Breton and French newspapers, advertising companies and tourist boards. In 2018 he moved to the UK where he worked on several private commissions and a series of studies of English people and architecture which he started publishing on Instagram. He quickly gained many thousands of followers and came to the attention of St Cuthbert’s Mill, a historic British paper manufacturer, for whom he has since worked as an ambassador. Joris is also an ambassador for the Italian paint manufacturer Maimeri Blu whose pure pigment watercolors he enjoys using. Having recently relocated to Boston, MA, Joris is very excited about illustrating this new chapter in ‘New England’!
We live in a wonderful world but that is not always what we see. So perhaps as an unconscious movement against the negativity, I try to absorb as much as I can all the good vibes around me. A beautiful light, an impressive landscape or a heart-warming atmosphere… The scenes of life, especially when they are trivial, tell a lot about the happiness and the beauty that surround us. It's about taking the time to look at those daily little things, focusing on stolen precious moments that no one pays attention to. I concentrate on the beauty of everyday life, these public gestures of intimacy that go unnoticed, that I can capture with watercolors to be cherished.
What initially drew you to your medium/media of choice?
My early years in art school in France naturally drew me to watercolor. I studied illustrations and comics and we used a lot watercolor paintings in our different works. I immediately felt in love with it, the way the pigments moved on your paper through water -- it’s alive! I remember being frustrated at the beginning because this medium sometimes seems to have its own project on your paper…but I became quickly fascinated by watercolor as an art full of contrasts. It seems indeed easy to begin, you just need some pans and water, but you quickly realize that it requires a lot of rigor and discipline. The transparency doesn’t allow for mistakes, it demands precision and letting go at the same time. I find this medium mesmerizing and beautiful.
What aspect of your art do you hope really comes across to your audience?
What I love the most when I observe and paint people on the street is the ability to imagine their life. It is something I have always done: as a little boy I imagined what the life of strangers I came across could be. What could be their jobs, what are they up to, where are they going, etc. I hope some of my audience is making their own stories about people on my paintings.
Who inspires you in your life, whether it be artistically or otherwise?
I find everyone absolutely inspiring! Every attitude, every shape, posture, social interaction…it is why I always have a camera on me, to be able to catch these moments. In terms of artistic influences, it’s a tough question as the list of inspiring artists is infinite! I would like to make an impossible list of historic painters and contemporary ones, illustrators, authors…but to be honest, my main inspiration is the ninth art. I grew up with a lot of comics in my parents’ house, so I built myself as an artist with it. I still read a lot of comics thus it is probably the main source of inspiration to me. Hugo Pratt, Gipi, Benjamin Flao, Emmanuel Lepage, Andrea Serio, Franquin, Guarnido, Manu Larcenet, Luigi Critone, Nicolas de Crecy and so many others…
What keeps you going as an artist? Where do you find that creative drive?
I have lived in three different countries the past 10 years, and discovering new cultures, architectures, traditions, which was a constant enrichment for me, both personally and artistically. My creative drive is nourished daily, depending on what I see, whom I interact with. I am sensitive to the little everyday things, the wearing of a scarf on someone on the street, the colors given by a particular light, a landscape, an object, a discussion. I am also inspired by the nature in all its forms, then finally architecture, with a particular affection for old buildings that give me the impression of traveling through time. What I like the most is walking in the streets, when the only goal of the walk is to pay attention to what is happening around you. It completely changes the perspective and a new world suddenly becomes visible. I am systematically impressed by the number of things that take place around us and nobody’s paying attention to them, which seems to me to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Tell us about your primary goal for the future. Has this goal changed over time?
I moved to Boston this summer and so far, I love it! My primary goal is to absorb as much as I can from the New England culture and transcribe it into my paintings. Thus, I am hoping to paint a lot of watercolors of the people and places here in Massachusetts. I would love to have an exhibition later. This goal has not changed over time, as I did the same in the UK few years ago: an exhibition of 70 watercolors illustrating the years I lived in Kent. I plan to do the same here in Boston!