Everything in nature is beautiful — even sneezeweed. This CBC Arts logo sends an eco-conscious message

Quebec illustrator Sophie Benmouyal created this design for our August logo, and she found inspiration in her own backyard.

Quebec illustrator Sophie Benmouyal found inspiration in her own backyard

A version of the CBC Arts gem logo rendered in mixed media. The geometric shapes that comprise the "gem" are filled with colourful illustrations of flowers, trees and leaves representing common Canadian flora. Text reads: "CBC Arts."
CBC Arts logo by Sophie Benmouyal. (Sophie Benmouyal)

Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo created by a Canadian artist. Check out our previous logos!

Take a closer look at this month's logo design. Are the plants and flowers sprouting from the CBC gem a common sight in the fields and parks where you live? They are for Sophie Benmouyal, an artist who lives with her family just outside Montreal. 

From the town of Sainte-Julie, Que., Benmouyal works as a magazine art director (Quebec Science) and children's book illustrator. Both gigs are dream jobs, she explains, and when she's not finishing an assignment, one of her greatest joys is spending time outdoors. As our climate rapidly changes, however, Benmouyal can no longer take the simple beauty of a summer daisy for granted, and that message is captured in her design. She told us more about her work when we reached her by email.

Name: Sophie Benmouyal

Age: 43

Homebase: Sainte-Julie, Que. 

Let's talk about your design! What inspired the concept?

I love nature. I love being outside. I especially enjoy walking in the woods. In the past few years, I've become anxious about what is happening to the Earth and the environment. What is happening this summer is particularly scary. With my concept, I am trying to say: we must do anything we can to preserve the beauty of nature around us.

What plants are we looking at and why did you choose them?

I chose the milkweeds because they are so important to biodiversity. I chose daisies and sneezeweed for their shapes and colours. I drew pine trees, oak leaves and a maple leaf because these are the trees I have in my backyard! We moved into a new house recently. We fell in love with this house because of the trees that surround it.

Mixed-media illustration in a children's book style. A forest scene. At centre, a child with red hair and rosy cheeks sits on a tree swing reading a large book. Cartoon forest animals with wide eyes and rosy cheeks gather around the child: bears, bunnies, deer and a fox.
Illustration by Sophie Benmouyal. (Sophie Benmouyal)

What mediums did you use to make the logo?

I use a technique I call digital collage. I create the shapes and all the details with pen, paint and pencil. I scan everything and assemble the pieces in Photoshop. I love this technique because I can work quickly with digital equipment but still have what some people call "happy mistakes." Only traditional tools can provide them.

What's the project you're most proud of?

Last year, I worked on a book about animals from Quebec with Auzou Canada. It's a sound book for toddlers. I had six months to work on six spreads. This is the longest time given to me to work on this number of illustrations. I took a lot of time (and pleasure!) studying the six animals, sketching, studying colours and texture. 

Cover of Mes animaux du Quebec, illustrated by Sophie Benmouyal. A hardcover book, the cover is illustrated with a picture of two bears, one big and one small, wading in blue water.
Cover of Mes animaux du Quebec, illustrated by Sophie Benmouyal. (Instagram/@sophiebenmouyal)

Are there any arts events on your radar this summer? What are you excited to check out?

This summer, I would like to visit the exhibition on Ancient Egypt at Pointe-à-Callière in Montreal. I'm also really excited about an exhibition devoted to Marisol that will be presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this autumn. I chose those two exhibitions because I think they will be great to visit with my two daughters.

What's your favourite place to see art?

I like visiting museums with my kids. We bring our sketchbooks and draw what we see together.

As I love kid lit, I never say no to an afternoon at the public library. I love hanging in the youth section to see what's new.

Mixed-media illustration in children's book style. A busy park scene in summertime. Smiling people take part in various outdoor activities surrounded by lush greenery: walking, biking, rollerblading, jogging.
Illustration by Sophie Benmouyal. (Sophie Benmouyal)

Who's the last artist you discovered online?

Lately, I enjoy looking at vintage illustrations online. After looking at a lot of illustrations on Pinterest, I bought a book on the life and work of Alain Grée and another on Alice and Martin Provensen.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

Any vintage children's book! I see them as works of art.

What's new in your world? What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on a picture book for Orca Book Publishers. There are lots of trees, forests and animals to draw. I'm really excited about this project.

Where can we see more from you?

My website and Instagram. I'm also the art director of Quebec Science magazine. You can see my illustrations there along with some amazing work by Canadian illustrators and photographers that I commission for the magazine.

Mixed-media illustration in a children's book style. A child with dark hairr and rosy cheeks sits on the grass with an open book. They have their arm around a smiling orange monkey who looks at the book with them.
Illustration by Sophie Benmouyal. (Instagram/@sophiebenmouyal)

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

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