Meet the Herstory Artist: Judith Poitras-Raynault

We are super excited to introduce you to our wonderfully talented Herstory artist, Judith Poitras-Raynault. We collaborated with Judith to create the gorgeous artwork youโ€™ll see for our Herstory International Womens Day campaign across the Books That Matter platforms. We hope you love our chat!

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Judith Poitras-Raynault, a graphic designer and illustrator based in London.

You predominantly illustrate authors and women, What pulls you towards these illustrations and subject matter?
I like to illustrate people who have a positive impact on the world. But because I love reading it means I end up illustrating a lot of authors and/or their books! It’s my way of promoting these people and what they have to say, so that more people get to know about them and their work.

You always include a range of diverse women in your illustrations. Where did you first learn about intersectional representation, especially in the art world?
I can’t remember where I learned about it first. I think it came from a mix of what I read in books and articles, and what I heard on podcasts and social media. It also made sense to me to draw the type of people I see around me everyday, which are very diverse.

As you illustrate so many readers, you must be a reader yourself! What are your favourite reads of all time?
This is such a difficult question to answer!! I’d say that my favourite reads keep changing every five years or so. My ‘women reading’ series is full of my latest favourites, with some old ones thrown in like Anne of Green Gables. But if I go with books that I have read or will definitely read more than once, I’d say: Lord of the RingsGirl, Women, OtherCyrano de BergeracLes belles-soeurs (I’m from Quรฉbec, the French speaking province of Canada), HomegoingHow to be both… Yeah I’ll stop here because this will go on for too long. And I didn’t even mention non-fiction!

You’ve worked on some incredible author portraits for wonderful writers. Can you tell us a bit more about these and the experience of doing them?
As I mentioned earlier, those portraits are my way of talking about and promoting these authors and their work. It’s also like a mini-homage to them. In the case of the portraits I did specifically for Books That Matter, I had fun researching the three women’s lives and the eras they lived in so I could populate their room with objects they might have liked.

How would you say your artistic style has evolved over time? Scrolling back through your Instagram portfolio, it has changed quite a lot over time?
Back in October 2016 I picked up a pen after not really doing any illustration for about 12 years (I used to draw all the time as a kid and teenager). In order to practise, I did the ‘Inktober’ challenge and gave myself the prompt of drawing in ink a woman I admire every day for 31 days (I had no social life that month!) So that’s why my first illustrations are in black and white, but it made me think about how to create shadows with lines only. I bought an iPad Pro in late 2017 and that was a game-changer for coloured illustrations! Since then I’ve been incorporating colours into that line illustration style, and more recently I’ve introduced more texture. I’m currently trying to find the right balance between a realistic and a stylised illustration style.

Where can people find and support your work?
You can find me on Instagram @judith_p.raynault and my website is judithpraynault.com. If you’re interested in the ‘women reading’ series, you can purchase the illustrations as A3 or A4 prints in my shop https://judithpraynault.com/Shop-1. ๐Ÿ™‚

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