November 24, 2015

Malika greets us at the door of her East London flat with a warm smile before flopping onto the sofa with cigarette in hand. It’s a cold and wintery day outside and we welcome the warmth of her open plan flat that is a riot of colours. The illustrator’s flat is a treasure trove of prints and canvases, little odds and ends, succulents and plants; a haphazard and playful space.

Having worked at a design studio for five years developing her personal style, Malika took the plunge and embraced the excitement (and terror) of becoming a freelance illustrator. Five years on and she hasn’t looked back. Having taken on an array of impressive projects with major clients from Penguin and Budweiser to Bafta and Sephora, her work can’t help but bring a splash of vibrancy and positivity to anyone’s day. Bright, bold, and playful, a little like Malika herself, we settled down to chat all things interior design, future projects and inspirations…

UO: Can you tell us a little about your story so far? Was it always the dream to enter the art world?

I was born and raised in Paris and after a couple of years in Art school studying advertising and graphic design, I made my way to London. I worked in a design studio for five years before deciding to make the big jump and set up as an independent illustrator. That turning point was 5 years ago and I have never looked back since ; ) As a kid, I drew on everything and anything and pretty much all the time, but I never really thought of it as a viable carrer path. It happened organically but I think it was always meant to be. If you ask my friends and family now they will all tell you that they always knew I would end up drawing for a living. I feel very lucky to have that privilege and do what I love.

UO: Did you grow up in a creative family?

My mum is an all rounder artist. She can saw, sculpt, paint, draw, cook and more… She always pushed me to draw of course, but it never felt like a burden. My dad, on the other hand, is more of an intellectual. His head is always in books and he couldn’t even build a set of shelves if he tried. The rest of my family is a mixture of both.

UO: We love the Kama Sutra Alphabet you worked on for Penguin. Can you tell us a little about the project from initial idea to finished product?

The Kama sutra cover was one of the first projects I was commissioned to do as an independent illustrator. I remember the joy and excitement when the brief came through from Penguin books US. I soon realised it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The whole process was very challenging and my sketches kept being rejected for being too tame and prudish. I finally got there when I explored the idea of a typographic take on sexual positions. It was a real challenge for me but also a real treat, and that project did a lot for establishing me as an industry illustrator. It was also the last time I accepted an erotic commission. There was a danger after that to be pinned down as a one trick pony, so I decided to move on to other subjects.

UO: What does a typical day look like in the life of Malika Favre?

A typical day is fairly boring: I wake up at around 10am, I am a night owl so pretty useless in the morning, make my morning coffee (strong) and pretty much start working in pyjamas. Most days, I sit and work for eight hours straight without having lunch or taking breaks, but there is the odd day when a friend drags me to lunch or forces me to take a break. I try and finish at 6 ish, take my shower and go out to the pub or dinner. I don’t see anyone during the day so my evenings are pretty packed!

UO: What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on and why?

Probably my first solo show, Hide and Seek. It did a lot for my career as well and I loved the whole process of putting an exhibition together, from the vinyl to the set to producing the screen prints. Projects you do for yourself are always the most rewarding. No constraints, no client, no rules but the ones you set yourself.

UO: What would your dream creative project be?

A cover for the New Yorker and a silk Carre for Hermes. These are the two things on my creative bucket list

UO: Do you have any favourite spots for furniture/homewares hunting?

I shop a lot online actually. Velvet Point in Germany is a great little vintage store with a low key website but they have beautiful pieces now and again. Also Margate is a great little city to hunt for vintage furniture. It’s a bit of a drive and you need to get lucky but it’s definitely worth the trip. Other than that I am a huge fan of Darkroom in London. I just love their bold patterns and colourful selection.

UO: What should no home be without?

A corkscrew.

UO: Where do you seek inspiration for your home?

Mainly on Instagram. I am very visual so it works great for hunting beautiful things. I follow a fair amount of people interested in homeware and products in general. They do the hunting for me which is even better

UO: What’s your favourite way to spend the weekend at home / around London?

What I miss the most about London when I am away is my breakfast weekend routine. I love brunch, poached eggs and chilli avocado and London is full of lovely little places like that. I usually go to the pub on Fridays and stay in on Saturday. I live in Old street so Shoreditch gets too crazy for me on the weekend. I also LOVE a good Sunday roast on a Sunday followed by a walk on the canal and finally a movie.

UO: What projects are you looking forward to for the rest of the year and into 2016?

I am looking forward to doing new stuff for the shop. I really want to get into designing on products this year and produce more tactile things. I am going to extensively collaborate with the cosmetic brand Sephora which will leave me some time to work on my own stuff on the side. A really lovely client too, so it feels like the best of both worlds!

And finally…

My style in three words… bold, minimalistic, playful
I’m currently reading… my emails. I haven’t picked up a book in 6 months.
The artist I’m most excited about right now… Jean Jullien. He is truly a genius.
My favourite record to spin at home is… Herman Dune Mariage a mendoza (spinning on Spotify!)