Elodie Coudray’s Underwater Dreams collection with Mouse + Magpie captured our hearts since the first moment we laid eyes on little Edie and her fantastical undersea companions. The pastel color palette, incredibly drawn details, and whimsical critter friends spark the imaginations of children and adults alike. This collection comes directly as a result of Elodie’s unique artistic background and her passion for creating artwork that inspires curiosity in people of all ages.
To illustrate how this ocean nursery decor collection came to be, we sat down with Elodie to discuss her history as a working artist, her creation of Edie’s character and the Underwater Dreams designs, as well as her future plans for illustration projects. We hope you enjoy this inside look at one of Mouse + Magpie’s outstanding children’s artists.
Edie and the Narwhal Art Print by Elodie Coudray
Like most illustrators, Elodie Coudray explored various other creative paths in her childhood and early professional career. We were particularly interested in Elodie’s experience with fashion design and how these textile influences make their way into her illustrations. Elodie explained how she got her start in France as a young artist.
Elodie: I've been drawing since I was a little girl. Books, pencils, and paper were my best friends. At the age of 10, I began to draw clothing collections because I wanted to become a fashion designer. I must admit, I even tried to copy sketches from the famous Yves Saint Laurent!
When I left school, I wanted to mix clothing and drawing. I started to embroider my own images on fabrics. I created a small, entirely handmade children’s clothing brand and sold my clothes at designer markets in Paris. One day, a young woman (who is now one of my best friends) asked for my business card. I met with her manager and proceeded to work for a famous French brand of children's clothing for more than 10 years.
My experience in fashion design influences my artwork in many ways. I like to draw all kinds of designs, and I attach great importance to small details. For example, I like to bring back little pieces of history in my illustrations through clothing details. Mixing eras like this helps me to blur the lines of reality in my artwork. It’s important for me to create looks that make sense and garments that always tell a story or help to shape a character.
Elodie doesn’t conform to a specific art style or medium. She changes techniques according to the needs of the project, the environment, and her mood.
Based on her education in the applied arts, Elodie combines an interesting set of techniques to create each illustration. From cut-paper collage to colored pencils and gouache, Elodie’s creative supplies are as colorful and varied as her final illustrations. We asked Elodie how she creates designs in her sunny at-home studio.
Elodie: As an artist, I do not try to conform to a trend or a particular style. Instead, I create in my own way, without caring if I draw for children or adults, changing technique according to my environment and my mood. For illustration, I usually use traditional mediums. I create a storyboard for the project and make more advanced and detailed sketches before moving on to color.
I like to explore and adopt new techniques to my needs—so, at the moment, I enjoy working spontaneously with gouache. For a recent The Wizard of Oz illustration project that I really enjoyed, I created illustrations from cut-paper pieces and enhanced the images with paint and colored pencils. I even used a piece of potato as a stamp to create the yellow brick road!
I find inspiration everywhere. It comes from my daily life, from my children, in my childhood memories, in the street, on the bus, or from posters, books, or programs on the radio. And, more importantly, I never try to do things specifically for children. I must admit that I draw for my own pleasure.
An in-progress look at the Edie and the Mermaid Art Print by Elodie Coudray
Elodie met Mouse + Magpie when we discovered her artwork in an illustrated storybook. We contacted her immediately and offered her the opportunity to create a new children’s decor collection. She got to work on creating a whimsical underwater fantasy featuring Edie, one of our favorite little characters.
Elodie: I wanted to create an imaginative mix of the forest and the sea with the Underwater Dreams collection. I have a real fascination with Maine’s landscape, and because my father was a captain in the merchant navy, I also love the fantasy world of sailors’ stories. To bring these ideas to life, my creative process was very simple: I made sketches in pencil and then fleshed out the setting in colorful gouache. I love that with Mouse + Magpie, I got to come up with my own story and choose my techniques. I got to work without constraint, which made this less a job and more a personal project.
As for Edie, she wears an outfit inspired by children from well-to-do families—but that doesn’t stop her from skipping school and running around on the beach with a well-mannered raccoon friend!
Edie could be any little girl from any background; her identity isn’t very important to the story. Above all, with this collection, I wanted to evoke a sense of childlike imagination and the feeling of escaping from everyday life. I haven’t seen any of these items in person yet, but I should be receiving the bath towel and the hooded towel soon. I can’t wait to see what the mermaid shower curtain looks like because that’s one of my favorite pieces of the collection!
Elodie’s Underwater Dreams collection was inspired by the forest and the sea.
While Elodie firmly believes artwork like hers can be enjoyed by people of any age, she loves spending a big portion of her career creating beautiful artwork for children. Through illustration, clothing, wall art, and decor, Elodie’s artwork has made its way to children and families all over the world.
Elodie: I think art is really good for children. Art questions, it opens minds, it stimulates imagination, and it teaches cultural diversity. Art helps a child become autonomous by teaching them to examine what they see and what they feel. Through art, children learn to think for themselves. Moreover, as a parent, decorating my child’s living space with original artwork means refusing to follow the trends of big business and our consumer society.
For almost 20 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with brands that produce beautiful products for children. They trust me and often give me carte blanche, so I couldn’t dream of anything better! I hope these drawings will remain associated with childhood memories, that they will make children want to draw and create, and above all, that they will stimulate children’s curiosity. I love to create new universes, and I love imagining the sweet companions who exist only in dreams. I hope I get to continue this work and maybe work more on projects for adults someday.
Elodie Coudray’s whimsical underwater illustrations are available on a wide range of products, including ocean-themed nursery wall art and bathroom decor. Check out the entire Underwater Dreams collection with Mouse + Magpie and experience Edie and her narwhals and mermaids for yourself! You can follow Elodie’s artistic journey on Instagram and on her personal blog.
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