We are excited to present a new interview series, PAY IT FORWARD, in partnership with the Lily. The Lily, published by The Washington Post, elevates issues critical to women by fostering important conversations and empowering stories. We spoke with women who we collectively admire to hear what mentorship means to them, the advice that has been most meaningful, and the importance of uplifting the women around you.
Next up in our series is Malika Favre, a French artist based in London. We spoke with Malika about the mentors who have served as the greatest source of inspiration and her biggest “Aha!” moment. This is the final interview of this series, but check out the previous interviews, starting with Yaminah Mayo.
Do you have a female mentor or leader you respect? Who is she?
I have met many amazing women in my life, but if I had to narrow it down there have been three key women mentors:
1—My mum, because she taught me how to draw, how to look at things around me, and that growing up kind was far better than growing up smart.
2—My literature teacher from middle school, Mariel Morize, who was a strong and brilliant woman as well as a free spirit. Me and a friend used to drop by her house on evenings or weekends to have endless conversations about books, love and life.
3—Nat Hunter, one of the three founders of Airside, where I worked in my twenties. She is an incredible woman as well as a great creative director, always full of energy and ideas but also just a great person to be around. She wore her heart on her sleeve but wouldn’t take bullshit from anybody.
I wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t met every single one of them.
What qualities make a good mentor or leader?
Fairness, intelligence, empathy and a good balance of authority and laxity.
Mentors come in all different forms, and are not always people who we expect. What is your experience with this?
From experience, it usually takes years for someone to realize that a specific person influenced their life in a radical way. As kids, we expect teachers to fill that role but that is unfortunately not always the case. At the end of the day a mentor is someone that understands who you are and what you need at a certain point in time and embraces guiding you through it. It could be for a week, a year or your entire life if you are lucky.
What is something a woman mentor or leader did for you, that you now try and do for other women?
Hearing other women’s life stories has always inspired me, so I make a point of sharing my experience and my story in order to inspire other women to do the same. I do it through doing conferences but also simply through my daily work by drawing strong and independent women. Or by sharing it with you now.
How did that experience (of what your mentor did for you) change your career/life?
I can’t really identify a single mentor that changed my career or life, but rather a succession of meaningful encounters that have a lot to do with who I am now.
What’s one piece of advice that you struggle to put into practice (even though you know you should)?
To be more patient. Definitely not my best quality.
Where and when do you do your best work?
When the emails stop coming in late at night. I love working from home, surrounded by patterns and block colors and never too far from the coffee machine.
What is your biggest “Aha!” moment or breakthrough?
I have had a few in my career. My biggest one was probably a couple of years ago when I realize that, as an illustrator, you rarely get commissioned to draw something you have never drawn before. Clients tend to be risk averse so the only way to push yourself and your work is to do personal work.
What is once piece of advice that someone can put into action today?
To travel as much as possible, even if only for a weekend. Getting out of your comfort zone and daily routine and exploring somewhere new goes a long way.
What is one thing you want women to keep in mind as they go through life?
That being a woman is ace and definitely not the short straw. The older I get the more impressed I am by the caliber of women I meet. I love being a woman and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Artist & Illustrator