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Illustrator Malika Favre on working with people

Malika Favre art
A detail from Favre's identity for Barcelona's La Mercè Festival 2021 (Image credit: Malika Favre)

Barcelona-based illustrator Malika Favre is famed for her deceptively minimal style, which has adorned covers of The New Yorker, Vogue and more. And if you have an iPhone, you might find a few pieces of hers hiding in the wallpaper menu. With clean, bold illustrations and elegant geometry, her work is unmistakable.

At OFFF Barcelona 2022, Favre took an innovative approach to the design talk. Rather than her own life or career, she structured it around the people who have inspired and helped her along the way – "because whether you work with brands or individuals, you're working with people." Here are just a few of the many names she mentioned. (Inspired to start drawing? Check out our guide on how to download Illustrator.)

Malika Favre

Malika Favre at OFFF Barcelona 2022 (Image credit: Future)

Nat, Fred and Alex

kama sutra o

A detail from Malika Favre's Kama Sutra alphebet (Image credit: Malika Favre)

Nat, Fred and Alex were the founders of Airside, the multidisciplinary design studio Favre joined in 2004. "The great thing about the studio was that they had a shop," she explained. This acted as a virtual circle to keep designers challenged and interested. It was here that Favre created her first "sexy alphabet" – the starting point for what would eventually become her sensational Kama Sutra typeface. Favre stayed at the studio for 5 years, building her own personal aesthetic, before deciding to go freelance. 

Paul Willoughby

Malika Favre BAFTA art

Malika Favre's 2015 BAFTA art (Image credit: Malika Favre)

Paul Willoughby is the former creative director of Little White Lies, and created or commissioned 47 of the magazine's iconic illustrated covers. Willoughby supported Favre right at the beginning of her freelance career, inviting her to submit 70's-inspired art for a movie poster exhibition at London’s Kemistry Gallery.

"I always really wanted to do one of the Little White Lies covers," Favre admitted, but it wasn't to be – Willoughby left to co-found design agency Human After All. But he then presented an even bigger job to Favre: designing the identity for the BAFTAs, "a project that changed my life." 

Françoise Mouly

Malika Favre New Yorker covers

Two of Malika Favre's New Yorker covers (Image credit: Malika Favre)

Françoise Mouly has been the art editor at The New Yorker (opens in new tab) since 1993. "If the New Yorker asks, you're going to say yes," Favre says. After providing many smaller illustrations for the magazine, she was approached by Mouly to explore designing covers – and has now created 13.

“The images really have a resonance, people will see this work," Favre said of working with the New Yorker. "It made me realise the responsibility and opportunity - empowering women, championing diversity.”

Henri

"Henri was my grandfather," Favre says. "He was an amazing businessman, and I inherited his sense of order and love of numbers and excel sheets." He taught the artist two important life lessons – firstly: 'To make money, you have to spend money.' "This taught me to delegate and hire people, and also to invest in myself, in travel, in taking time off. It’s not frivolous, it’s an investment."

His second life lesson was, 'To make good deals, make good friends.' This was the inspiration behind Favre's people-based talk. "These are some of the most important people in my life," she says.

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Daniel Piper
Daniel Piper

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).