After eight years working in Financial Services consultancy, Maud Deschamps turned the dial back to zero, swapped business processes for creative processes, and became a full-time artist.
Was art always on your radar?
Absolutely not! Before taking it up seven years ago, I had zero artistic training or experience. I graduated from ICHEC (Management studies) and immediately started working at MasterCard. At the time, the company was transforming and redefining its strategic vision, and I worked alongside business consultants. This one-year experience inspired me to make the switch and join the Accenture BeLux FS Strategy team (my intake interview was with Olivier Gillerot) where I stayed for five years.
What are your memories of Accenture?
It was a rich and fulfilling experience. I met remarkable people, built strong client relationships and developed the drive to work really hard! I find the same tenacity back in my painting. Working at Accenture is so intense; it’s more than just a job, you really belong to something and this shared experience creates lasting bonds. I’m still in touch with a small group of Accenture women and we meet on a regular basis.
What triggered your career change?
After Accenture, I returned to MasterCard for two years, as European Product Manager for small and medium-sized enterprises in the premium credit cards industry. It included market needs analysis, product development, testing and launch, European sales force training and media coverage. An opportunity arose to move as a family to Switzerland with my husband’s job, so I took the big decision to step out of the business world for a while. It was then that I began waking up every morning wanting to draw and paint. This was totally out of character for me! I had never been artistically inclined until then. After three months, I decided to act. I joined a local painting school where the teacher said ‘Show me what you can do, then I’ll tell you if it’s worth continuing.’ I worked through the night and discovered I had a natural facility to draw: perspective, proportions, shading. The basic skills were there, but not the creative process…
How do you develop a creative process?
By working hard and passionately! I’ve studied intensively at different art schools in Switzerland, France and Belgium, and with many teachers (drawing, color and painting techniques, sculpture). I’ve also been lucky to meet many inspirational people who encouraged me to find ‘my way’. I’m still building my toolkit of colors and techniques, and only just starting to understand the artistic direction I want to take.
What’s the biggest mental switch you had to make becoming an artist?
Unlearning the habits of productivity and efficiency! These are necessary to be successful in a business career. The same rules do not apply to art. In order to create, you have to take the freedom and the time to lose yourself in your work and let things emerge from deep inside. This can be an unsettling and long process as there are no pre-established rules. You have to find your own way. However, once this path is opened it becomes very fulfilling. Creating requires welcoming what is there at a given time and working with it without trying to control it.
Can you describe your work?
I have figurative work consisting of monumental portraits and self-portraits. I am very passionate about the skin, human beings and their identity. My paintings capture human stories and testify to their time on Earth. This calls for a journey and invites a certain degree of introspection. For this work, I use acrylic paint on paper, which I then glue on canvas. I also have abstract work (acrylic on canvas). These paintings transcribe life experiences (sensations, pure emotion, feelings, landscapes, movement, encounters). They were strongly influenced by a one-year around the world trip I did with my family two years ago. During that year, I did sketches absorbing all the impressions of our trip. This experience was extremely inspiring!
What skills from your past career do you still use today?
Once a work leaves my studio, it no longer belongs to me. That’s when the commercial process starts. Art is business: Galleries, exclusivity, percentages… and it’s difficult for artists to sell themselves. The pleasure is in the studio, the creative process of building your own language and evolving. Then you are expected to switch to a business persona and find words to explain your work in order to sell it! This can be very challenging. I have the advantage of having this commercial background.
When is your next exhibition?
A solo exhibition of my figurative is planned from the 18th to the 22nd of January 2017 in the “Chapelle de Boondael” in Ixelles. It’s nude, big, and confrontational! For this series, I work with models over a period of three to four months. I always choose people with whom I have a good contact (or they choose me!) willing to make an experience related to their image and their relationship to oneself. In parallel, I do a full body self-portrait. It’s a conversation between two people. Each portrait is twice life size and made up of sections. This is my signature.
Never tempted to return to your previous career?
Art was such a revelation for me! I am grateful for the experience and skills I gained in my previous career. Today, I am 100% an artist. I’m still at the beginning of a creative journey that will last until the end of my life.
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