From the Archives: Visiting Monique Aimee’s Studio

This article was originally published in the print edition of Art New England’s July/August 2022 issue for the Studio Visit column.

By C. Shardae Jobson

The working space of illustrator Monique Aimee is the kind of space that most artists would love to create in. It’s not only spacious enough to fit more than one set of creative minds, since both her and Loyal Supply Co. call it their home away from home. But more importantly, it’s the airy nature, the natural light from outside (that doesn’t clash with the indoor lights), and plenty of wall room to tack up vision boards and projects in process that make her haven at Somerville’s Joy Street Studios a sweet spot.

Aimee, 30, however, admits that despite the pros that are evident on-site, “There’s a lot going on here!” she says, with a wave that motions to all the art she’s illustrated, hand-lettered, chain stitched, and the tools that help bring her ideas to life. “Sometimes, when I really need to get work done, I don’t come here because it really feels like there’s just a lot to play with!”

Thankfully, though, that decision is not a frequent one. Aimee regularly creates in her studio for clients nationwide, and sometimes outside of the U.S. too. “I do get some local jobs and I’m a little more inclined to say yes when I know it’s local,” she adds. “I want to support my local community and see my art here as well.”

Photograph by Jobson of Aimee’s studio at Joy Street.

She’s been at Joy Street “pre-pandemic,” since approximately 2019. And by way of Connecticut, and a graduate of Cambridge’s Lesley University, Aimee illustrates across various categories and items. Included are juice label packaging, merch such as banners and patches for her online shop, and a hot-cake selling Bloom bandana sold through Madewell.

She’s also hired, on occasion, by fashion brand Coach for in-store live painting pop-ups on handbags, for both of Boston’s Prudential and Faneuil Hall locations. (Art she made for the latter is on permanent display). For New Belgium Brewing, Aimee was one of the artists handpicked for their 2022 Capsule Collection and her graphic design is featured on a globe glass.

Book covers are also on the roster. Mainly for rom-coms, young adult, and beachy summer reads such as One Last Stop that made an August 2021 cameo on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

“I do like [illustrating] book covers because I can physically pull them and see them at a bookstore,” Aimee says with endearing pride. “That’s always rewarding.”

Books she’s illustrated for are stacked on the same counter as the coffee machine all the way on the left end that’s designated as a tiny kitchen, in the studio. It is behind this counter that a big window allows for so much sun to come through. Or, perhaps, some picturesque viewing when it comes to watching New England rain come on down. 

Another rewarding experience was her recently revealed assignment for the Netflix series Stranger Things. Through a kismet connection made at a LetterWest conference years ago and posting her fan art based on the show, Aimee was offered the opportunity to make her fandom official in the forms of a puzzle and T-shirt for the “Season 4 Fan Artist Collection,” available exclusively at Target. 

“By far, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” Aimee states excitedly. “I’ve always been a fan of the show. And then I had to keep it a secret for like half a year. That was difficult.”

A print of her illustration of Stranger Things character Eleven, holding her iconic box of Eggo waffles (from season 1), hangs on her side of the studio. Its presence blends with the rest of her work, supplies, and vintage oddities such as a mini letterpress she doesn’t use, but has around for decoration.

Photograph by Jobson of Aimee’s studio and tripod.

“I just like it. It’s an antique! But it does work!” She briefly tends to it to show its mobility. “It only prints like business cards.”

Photograph by Jobson of Aimee’s vintage letterpress.

Her chainstitch sewing machine is, “My favorite thing in here. It’s my prized possession. That’s what all the threads and the thread wall are for.” In-person, the thread pools, on the other, longer counter, in what’s roughly the middle of the studio, is next to the letterpress and her sign painting kit. They’re set up like a mountaintop and come in hues of hot pink and teal. The wall has more shades such as silver and hunter green.

Her actual work station is on the opposite side of the aforementioned. And nearby her station and Eleven is where her “Janky tripod that no one sees,” stands and helps her record her TikToks that feature behind-the-scenes content and mini-vlogs of trips to Miami and visiting Netflix in Los Angeles.

Her station is also where her Mac desktop is and between it and the table the sewing machine is on, she sits and illustrates on her iPad. Creating her much beloved images of characters and objects.

On social media, these illustrations appear as square art prints. Whether the print is of a frosted scone, fruit and flowers, or a hug exchange, Aimee captures human emotions and interactions with thoughtfulness and hopeful vibration. 

Her prints reinforce the feelings of better days ahead, appreciating the little things, community efforts during trying times such as the pandemic (she has a handful of prints in which characters are masked-up) and Aimee staunchly supports crucial causes that stand with and for marginalized groups. Based on the comments, what fans seem to love so much about her prints is that her empowering messages are not denied her preferred, usual range of bold colors.

“I try to stay true to my color palette and they’re usually very warm. [I do think that a color like] screaming hot red is [also] very powerful. Or, a warm pink [can be] softly empowering,” Aimee says. “The pinks, the reds, ochre. I think it’s a combo of a really strong color and something a little softer [in my work].”

Aimee adds as by now, we’re sitting on the couch in her studio, her artwork and tools ahead of us, “As far as messaging goes, it is interesting to combine having a strong message and the colors you use are so important with whatever message you’re sending. And I think that with my work, and the colors I use, I try to share the emotion of the message with the colors.”

Photograph by Jobson of Aimee’s studio.

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