Arts·CBC Arts

Meet Moon and Sparrow, the illustrator who's helping us spring into April

You know the saying: April showers bring hand-drawn versions of Canadian public broadcasting logos.

Get to know the Montreal artist known for her twee maps of just about everything

Spring into April. This month's profile pic is designed by Sandra Dumais, a.k.a. Moon and Sparrow. (Moon and Sparrow)

You know the saying: April showers bring hand-drawn versions of Canadian public broadcasting logos. And this month, our profile pic is bringing on those springtime vibes.

The cheerful design you see blooming above is the work of illustrator and children's book author Sandra Dumais. Otherwise known as "Moon and Sparrow," the artist's probably best known for her twee painted maps, and she's plotted the cartography of everything from Montreal's Mile End to the "Anatomy of a Mother's Heart."

Get to know her a little better!

Name: Sandra Dumais

Age: 41

Homebase: Montreal/Toronto

How do you like to describe your art?

My aesthetic is colourful and soft, and the feeling is a bit naive and silly. I love doing maps and often get approached to create maps that tell a story of a place, rather than an accurate map that will help you get somewhere. I draw lots of silly portraits of people and families and work often in the kids' market. (Ed note: Dumais co-founded Marché nënë, a Montreal collective of designers and entrepreneurs who make and sell stuff for little ones.)

The Moon and Sparrow take on Toronto. The CBC Arts office is, regrettably, missing. (Courtesy of the artist)

What is "Moon and Sparrow?" What's the story behind that name?

Actually, my friend Christine and I used to design stationery in Toronto under this name. I think I called her Moony for her lovely round face and she called me Sparry because I am kind of flitty and hyper. After leaving Toronto I asked if I could use it for my illustration name.

Let's talk about your design! What inspired your take on the CBC Arts logo?

April, especially here in Montreal, is full of great contrasts. Lots of hope and disappointment.

I wanted to include an element of softness and promise of spring but also the harsher elements of cold, blowy rain.

What's inspiring your art these days?
I've been playing with paints a lot these days — I teach kids art classes and that hands-on, very messy intuitive approach of painting with kids has found its way into much of my other work, especially the imperfect line work and textured backgrounds.

I'm currently working on a graphic novel for young kids, and I find lots of inspiration in the work of Mo Willems, Wes Anderson, and Richard Scarry (one of my all-time heroes).

Moon and Sparrow's World Map of Extraordinary Women. (Courtesy of the artist)

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

My kid's book! Enquêtes à la ferme - L'affaire de l'oeuf disparu, or Farm Mysteries - The Case of the Missing Egg.

It's book one of a series, and I'm working with a pretty great publisher here in Montreal (La Courte Échelle). This series revolves around Inspecteur Biquette, the world's best (and only) goat detective. He is terrible at his job and is always losing his notebook.

I wrote and illustrated it, so it's a big project that takes up lots of my time. I love it. (Out in Autumn 2018 in French.)

Fun facts about Inspecteur Biquette, the star of Dumais's upcoming kids' book. (Courtesy of the artist)

Who's the last artist you discovered online?

I love the Instagram of Faye Moorhouse. Such weird and beautiful work!

What's your favourite place to see art?

I used to love walking down Queen Street West to check out the art at the smaller independent galleries — I love the AGO when I'm in town (I recently enjoyed the Annie Pootoogook drawings). I love the Musée d'art contemporain here in Montreal. There is a fantastic exhibit on Leonard Cohen right now that every Canadian should see!

What's one work of art you dream of owning?

I love buying art. My husband and I buy lots of the art we can afford. But at a recent visit to the AGO, I came across some paintings by William Kurelek that stopped me in my tracks. One was called Home on the Range and showed a winter prairie scene: a hockey game at night beneath a really bright moon with a dead tree in the foreground. I can't stop thinking about it.

Any new projects on the go? Where can we see more from you?

Aside from the book, I just launched a line of maps of U.S. states with my partners Uncommon Goods. I illustrated 20 maps of U.S. states on tote bags and pillows. You can find them over on their site here. I'm also doing a map of the USA and a world map for a client in the kids' market.

I'm very active on Instagram. Come say hello!

Wild Canada by Moon and Sparrow. (Courtesy of the artist)

This questionnaire has been edited and condensed.

Every month, CBC Arts will feature a new take on our logo, created by a Canadian artist. Check out more Q&As with our past contributors.

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