Marie-Ève Turgeon: Drawing, a Way of Life

She began creating with watercolour and Indian ink. It is a palpable heritage in her most recent illustrations: the fluidity, the precision of each stroke, the pure lines… A born artist, Marie-Ève Turgeon took several years before allowing herself the right to exist as an illustrator.

As a child, she drew books and devoured children’s albums. Now a mother, she cradled her sons’ childhood with her drawings. Marie-Ève Turgeon took a few detours before returning to her first love. And yet, it was the profession she had chosen in high school as part of a project that led her to interview an illustrator. However, she was discouraged by the feedback she received: she was told that it was a difficult and low-paying job. When the time came, she set her sights on graphic design, a profession that turned her away from her instincts. Then she reconnected with her need to work with her hands and became a baker.

When her boys arrived, she focused on them and traded the night shift of kneading bread for other food jobs. “I started making the blackboards for the delicatessen where I was working,” she says. The word spread. I was entrusted with more and more windows and murals. I shared my work on my social networks. That’s when I started to believe that being an illustrator was possible.”

In the wake of this, she once again began drawing extensively at home. She bought a tablet and mastered Procreate. An agent approached her and put her in touch with future clients. That’s when things really took off! Marie-Ève Turgeon has now been living from her art since 2019. Her project #52women, in which she challenged herself to illustrate 52 women who inspire her, caused a stir on social networks.

“I’ve always had a pencil in my hand. My daily life revolved around drawing. I raised my children in this world. People around me were asking me why I wasn’t doing this with my life. Why didn’t I give myself the right to enjoy the talent I had? I didn’t know how to do it…”

There was the time she told her son: “No, work is not boring, you just have to do something you love.” She then told herself that she had to put her money where her mouth was. “It’s a good example I’m setting for them, to have decided to go for it. They see me making a living from what I have always done: drawing. So much so that sometimes they find it hard to believe. When I’m sitting in my armchair with my tablet, and they want my attention. They don’t realize that I’m working!” (laughs)

Creative Impulse

For Marie-Ève Turgeon to create, she must get a feeling. “With Demain DemainI had carte blanche. I said to myself OK, I really like birds. I live in the forest; I am surrounded by nature. I went into the colour schemes of the birds that resonate loudly. I combined them with complementary colours as a background. The result is filled with softness and a flash of colour.”

“I am proud to be one of the artists selected by Demain Demaina local business from where I grew up—that shares my values, that makes beautiful products with recycled materials and that promotes local artists! I really like the idea that my illustrations are in people’s everyday lives.”

To launch a new project, Marie-Ève Turgeon likes to create Pinterest boards with decorating or painting inspirations in which the colours make her resonate. She sometimes collages photos, colours, flowers, and other images that inspire her. She always starts her sketches in black and white.

“The tablet has changed my speed of execution. It saves me a lot of time. It follows me everywhere. If I have an idea before I go to sleep at night, I can draw it, which I wouldn’t have done before because I had to get all my equipment out. But I still always have a sketchbook with me. In fact, I’ve started taking a live model workshop again to keep my pencil skills sharp.”

“My inspiration often comes from colours. I’m very much into the same colour schemes. I sometimes try to break away, but I always come back! These days, I’m trying to break away from pink. I always end my drawings with a line of pink. It’s all over my Instagram feed! I can’t break away from it. Maybe one day they will say: her pink ‘phase’ lasted 20 years!” (laughs)

Her lifelong dream has just come true: to illustrate a children’s book. And not once but twice. A first novel with Québec Amérique, for which she drew the illustrations, will be published in a few months. A children’s book she created for Alaska Publishing [which uses augmented reality] will also be published soon. But that’s all she could say for now! Mums the word!

You can find Marie-Ève Turgeon’s illustrations here:

Demain Demain

Sur ton mur


Illustration Quebec

A Few Quick Questions

A pivotal figure in your career? Samir Kachami [a painter, now deceased, who introduced nearly 6,000 students to the art of painting in his studio at 34 rue Saint-Eustache]. Because of his reputation in the area, he was the first person I believed when he told me I had talent. He trusted me. He even hired me to teach the 12-year-olds.

Your favourite children’s book? Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault (La Pastèque, 2012). I find it so beautiful. The pages are real works of art. Everything is done by hand. I would love to be able to make albums as complete as this one day!

A project in the works? I would love to write a book with my younger sister, Christine Turgeon, who has a beautiful pen and works in the publishing world. We have plans to make several albums together. Right now, we’re creating a gallery of characters. Our imagination comes from the same place. Our mother was always telling us outlandish stories.

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