Designer of the Week: Gabrielle Matte

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[Call for entries: HOW Logo Design Awards]

Meet Gabrielle Matte, a San Francisco–based graphic designer and illustrator currently working at DesignStudio. Matte spends her time working on branding and editorial design and loves handlettering, set design and ideation. She’s fascinated by arts and crafts and enjoys learning from—and drawing inspiration from—cabinetmakers, printers and other craftspeople.

design by Gabrielle Matte

Name: Gabrielle Matte

Location: San Francisco


How would you describe your work?

Playful, witty, craft-based—I try to make my work a visual version of wink 😉

Where do you find inspiration?

I go for walks, listen to music, watch movies, read—just finished the Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Murakami’s mind is so imaginative. Oh, and people watching is also an endless source of new ideas!

work by Gabrielle Matte

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?

Joann Sfar’s journals. Matisse’s colors. Chris Ware’s architectural way of telling stories. Michel Rabagliati’s characters. Everything from Sempé. Playfulness, colors and forms of the Eames, and so on.

design by Gabrielle Matte

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Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?

Probably Chess Mates. With my friend Alexandra Guimont, we started a chess club in Montreal. But then, a character emerged: Birdy Fischer, the chess champion of the animal kingdom. We participated in a 24-hour comic sprint in Angoulême, France, and now a proper comic book is on the way! I feel Chess Mates becomes this never-ending project that can be translated into so many events, stories, apparel, urban furniture … who knows! Playing chess is a strong logical workout and a magical way of disconnecting from everyday stress.

design by Gabrielle Matte
work by Gabrielle Matte

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

I created a garden with the studio Iregular. It’s a digital mural projected in downtown Montreal that allows interactions between individuals and plants. Looking at the wall with your phone in hand, you can plant a seed, start the rain or just look at the plants growing in front of you. As many as 100 different plants can be created! The challenging part was that everything was illustrated individually and needed to be randomly assembled. As an illustrator, it can be a hard concept to digest since I’m used to refining and organizing composition. It was a really good exercise to work as part of a system, and in the end I really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful, unexpected mistakes.

work by Gabrielle Matte

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I want to create the visual identity of the next WorldChess Championship 🙂

work by Gabrielle Matte

What’s your best advice for designers today?

Side projects are a good way to discover what makes you unique. Also, be deliberate when you present your work to new clients, employers or collaborators, as you should only present the projects that you really enjoyed doing.

work by Gabrielle Matte