Maxime Francout: the
French Touch in Montreal

04.05.2019  |  Share  —  Twitter   Facebook   Copy link

Maxime is an independent art director and graphic designer based in Montreal, Canada. Passionate about attention to details, his specialist focus lies on art direction, visual identity, editorial and type design. In 2016 he founded the Bizarre Bizarre studio and was since joined by Hoang Son Tran.


What led you into your current career path?
I started my career in 2003 as an illustrator. I had the chance to work for international clients such as Herman Miller, Gestalten, Toyota and Time Magazine. I gradually got involved a little more in the design process until I realized that being a designer also allowed me to have a bigger control over my creations.

How do you keep in touch with the creative world and community and how does the creative scene look like in your city? 
We post our projects on Behance, it’s a simple way to promote our new work and to gain feedback from other creatives. Over time, we built an important community aound us that we sometimes had the opportunity to meet during various Adobe events we were invited to. We also like Instagram for its very reactive side, and the possibilities it offers to discover incredible design projects.

Regarding the creative scene in Montreal, it’s pretty small but incredibly prolific and creative. Everybody knows each other. There’s a healthy competition getting the best projects out.

It is always a great pleasure to receive the publications we have worked on.

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I always need to sketch my ideas and test it with small scale models.

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There are many different spaces that have been arranged to work at the studio, no one actually has a fixed desk.

What creative(s) do you admire for their work? Have you collaborated or thought of collaborating with other like-minds?
We admire and feel prety close to Demande Spéciale studio in Montreal. I had the chance to collaborate with them on illustrations for the visual identity of Bon Vivant, a new brand that markets hemp food products. The project has been a great success. I invite you to check their work, they’re very talented!

I also admire the work of Adrien Baudet, a photographer and designer who’s able to transform everything into gold he touches. He is kind of a third unofficial member of the studio and he has also made the photos for this interview.

What’s your favorite hack to get work done?
Work in a good atmosphere, and a lot of coffee haha.

What are your 5 favorite work tools/apps and how do use them?
1. The camera on my phone to scan sketches
2. FontExplorer to classify fonts
3. Indesign for simplicity, efficiency and accuracy
4. Glyphs for fonts creating and editing
5. Dropbox to share files 

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I try to organize my working documents in a way that simplifies things when another person at the studio takes over the project.

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I like to bring projects always a little beyond the expectations of the client to always surprise with short animations and contextual elements created for the project.

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Glyphs for fonts creating and editing

What creative or non-creative challenges do you face at work?
I don’t follow any particular routine, I am rather the kind of person who doesn’t like too much that the days are similar. It’s important for me to do some sport when I can after work. Staying long days in the office is not a very physical activity, but the fatigue that you feel when you're doing a creative job is a more of an intellectual fatigue. I need to workout to clear my head at the end of the day. 

What projects are you most proud of and excited about? Are there any side-projects you work or worked on? 
I think the biggest pride for me is to have created my own font and realized that people were interested in buying it. I have a lot of respect for foundries, but I also realize that I am very far from being on the same level of mastery. I try to buy new fonts as much as possible for our projects to encourage them.

I also take time to experiment with new things. It can be a poster, cards or a publication. It's important to always be proactive and not be afraid to do things that don’t always work. But sometimes mistakes are interesting and can mark the beginning of something new...

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We like to discover new materials to make our projects very unique and adapted to the identity of our clients.

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We like to use shapes that we work in the same way as typography.

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A font that we developed a few years ago available on our website.

What’s your morning or evening routine and habit after work?
- My morning always begins with a black espresso, no sugar. I spend few hours checking emails, tracking projects, billing etc. I sometimes dedicate more time to publish new projects (Behance, Facebook, Instagram) and promote activities of the studio. Keeping some visibility is fundamental for small studios like ours. We try to stay on the radar with our work rather than with our name.

- I try to meet customers in the morning to maintain a certain momentum and devote myself to research and creation in the afternoon. During the rush periods, days can be quite long, but hard work always pay off.

- Lunch time is the opportunity to eat and have fun all together. We are very often at The Falco, a japanese coffee shop and restaurant where you can eat delicious onigiris. It's a bit like our canteen…

- I work on the creation in the afternoon. I feel in a state of relaxation and concentration that allows me to be much more creative. I like to draw my ideas in my sketchbook and quickly test on the computer if it works. I avoid doing too much research to preserve influences and interpret the concept in the most personal way possible. I prefer books, exhibitions or concerts to feed my graphic lexicon.

- To be honest, working days often ends with Fifa 19 and beers...

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8h00 First morning coffee and reading emails

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8h00 First morning coffee and reading emails

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9h00 Morning meeting at the studio, second coffee

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12h00 Onigiris at Café Falco

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12h45 A nap in the hammock of the studio

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13h Afternoon meeting

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13h30 Afternoon coffee

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13h45 Working Outside at Aire Commune

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18h00 Chilling on the basketball court

What’s your workspace setup?
I travel a lot for business and I can work anywhere as long as I am able to put up my computer and my graphics tablet. There are no assigned places at the studio and my setup is very minimalist. The only things I tolerate on my desk are plants, books and magazines.

Any advice for ambitious creatives starting out?
I would tell them to never stop believing, to work hard but always stay honest.

Anything you want to promote or plug?
We are opening a new studio this summer with my friend Hoang Son Tran. The studio will be called Mer/Sea and will be located between Montreal in Canada and La Rochelle in France. The two cities have a common history and the most obvious connection was the sea. We will work on more accessible projects, while preserving the originality and sense of detail of bizarre bizarre. I invite you to visit our new website and contact us if you are interested in working with us.

You can find me on Behance at: https://www.behance.net/maximefrancout
Have a look at our website: https://www.bizarrebizarre.ca
Or follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bizarrebizarrestudio/

"I learned a lot by working for major agencies or studios after graduating. But creating my own structure tailored to my needs, my desires, and my vision was the best choice of my career."

Quote by Maxime Francout