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Ambition, Amour & Joie de Vivre: An Interview with Jill Lecours Grimard
It’s Wednesday morning and we have a meeting with Jill Lecours Grimard. April’s sunshine keeps us warm as we head off towards the studio of the watercolour artist and founder of Amour & Joie de Vivre. What we don’t know is that we’re about to find the real source of the rays at Jill Lecours Grimard’s studio!
The woman who opens the door is radiant: her flaming red hair cascades onto her shoulders, a small square scarf is tied delicately around her neck, and her spectacular smile is highlighted by a beautiful, bold red lip. The artist welcomes us warmly into her loft where the decor is as colourful as her personality. Bouquets of fresh flowers brighten each room and real tree trunks extend from floor to ceiling.
Being a thoughtful hostess, she offers us delicious homemade strawberry lemonade. It doesn't take much more to charm us!
Here's our interview with this inspiring entrepreneur, authentic artist, and lovely lady.
Let’s go back in time. How did young Jill first get her start in art?
Oh! My mother loves to tell this story. When she found out that she was pregnant, the first thing she bought was a box of Prismacolor pencils!
However, my name is Jill because my mother is a huge fan of interior design and saw a designer on TV with that name. She told herself that if she had a daughter one day, she would name her Jill and that she would be an artist!
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. At a very young age, my mother enrolled me in classes: I was only 8 years old when I started working with watercolours. Already at that time, she would only buy me professional materials. I still have all of them today. They’re from the 1990s!
You were destined to become an artist! Did you always know that it was something you wanted to do when you were older?
I really liked it a lot, but I was also very interested in science. At a certain age, I dreamed of becoming a primatologist! My heroines were Dian Fossey, who worked with gorillas, Birutė Galdikas, who studied orangutans, and Jane Goodall, who was interested in chimpanzees. My group of friends used to say, “She’s going to be the next Indiana Jones!”
In the end, I chose to study arts. I always had the desire to write, illustrate, and create designs.
After your studies, you worked in advertising agencies for many years. What was it that led you to create your own company?
It was in 2014. My husband and I had to leave for San Francisco when he found a job… two streets away from our house! So, I had to find something else. I quickly came up with the idea for Amour & Joie de Vivre. After only three days, I already had my business plan!
I had been a graphic designer and artistic director for a long time, but I dreamed of being a creative director. I stopped waiting for others to make me one and gave myself the title!
Where does the name Amour & Joie de Vivre come from?
I lived outside of Quebec for a long time and whenever I would write my family, I’d end my letters with “Amour & Joie de Vivre.” When I was looking for a name for my company, I immediately thought of it!
It’s a name that embodies your calligraphy extremely well, since it’s always positive and joyful!
I think that being surrounded by positive things can really make a difference in people’s lives! I always imagine that the men and women who buy my work come across these quotes at the right time in their lives—that they feel the need to have these messages in their homes.
I paint a lot of inspirational quotes because I have a lot of ambition. When I was young, I dreamt of having a big career. I knew that I wanted to accomplish things. I really like the idea of conveying empowering messages.
How is your artistic style unique?
I’ve seen very few artists do calligraphy with watercolours, so I think that’s one of the main things that differentiates me.
Otherwise, in my lettering, I have a few trademarks: the roundness of my letters, how I create shadows, and the tiny dots I add for an element of fun. Hello, polka dots!
You came across watercolours at a young age and it’s become your medium of choice. What do you like the most about this type of painting?
It’s a medium that can be scary since it’s difficult to control. It’s pretty funny because in life, I like to be organized. However, with watercolours, I’m very comfortable with losing control in a certain way!
For me, watercolours are very comforting. I’ve used them for so long, I know they’ll always be there. They’ll never let me down!
What dreams do you have for the future?
To do more great collaborations! This allows me to meet super interesting people who have an area of expertise. I find that so beneficial! I like to work with established brands because you can learn so much from them.
Your very first collaboration was with Simons, right?
Yes, Amour & Joie de Vivre’s first project was with Simons! I wrote directly to Peter Simons and five minutes later, we had a meeting scheduled. I was super excited!
Simons means so much to people. In my family, it was always THE store. My grandmother’s wedding dress came from Simons! For me, starting with this company was a great omen. It was a vote of confidence on their part and it opened many doors for me.
What can you tell us about your new collection of posters at Simons?
I have quotes all over my house. Some are just funny and make me happy. Others are placed in strategic places, like next to my doorway, for instance. I read them every day before leaving my loft and they really bring out something special in me.
That’s what I love about the collection of posters for Simons. There are some that are fun and others that are going to bring out something special in people.