Avant garde | noun

Strange, new, and unusual ideas, usually in the arts.

You can’t spell “experimentation” without “art” (sure, the letters are a little out of order, but it’s in there, you get it). Art has always been a way of seeing the world in a different way. But artists must also look at art itself in a different way in order for it to progress.

That was the idea behind our “avant garde” challenge – create something experimental, something strange and unusual. Mathiole’s “Choix” design – “choice” in French – has a certain avant garde je ne sais quoi that makes you tilt your head and stroke your chin like you’re staring at a piece in an art museum.

We talked to Mathiole about his winning design and had him break it down for us. Check out his answers below!

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What does “avant garde” mean to you? 

“Dream On”

To me it’s a concept to always push the movement forward, break boundaries, be innovative and experimental; the concept of wanting to do something out of ordinary, something that defies the artist in any way.

I love the quote with your design, “there’s no such thing as right or wrong choices, there’s only experimentation” – Is this your quote? 

Yes, it’s my quote! I do believe that failure is a necessary step towards success, and once you embrace it, lose the fear to make mistakes, it all becomes a big experimentation!

“Great Idea”

Many of your designs have an “Avant Garde” look to them. Do you try to experiment with a lot of your work?

More often than you all see! haha Some of the experimentations don’t come out as intended, so I don’t post them, but they are just as necessary as the things I do that I like.

Courtesy of Mathiole’s Instagram

I’m always trying to get out of the comfort zone, maybe it’s not a new style, but it’s something I didn’t tried before, or a technique I’m not familiar with. I think this is what feeds me, the uncertainty, the refreshing feeling when I’m creating.

How do you know if an experimental piece of art has “worked”? 

Hum, never thought about that. But I think when your work starts to get ‘mature’, you’ll need to develop a sense of judgment towards your creations. Before anyone else, you need to judge what you’ve made and understand and decide whether it’s good or not. So it’s something very personal.

The Optimist” and “Up There

To me it’s a balance between what you’ve imagined and what you’ve come up with. If it’s either too close from what you thought, or too distinctive, it won’t work.

Break down your Avant Garde design for me! 

Ok, I don’t like to explain these more experimental stuff because everyone can picture things differently, and it’s nothing that I pictured in the concept before – it came as I was making it. But in my head, it’s a representation of a philosophical man and his consciousness (in Nordic culture, ravens are often a symbolism to a “thought” or a “memory”), that’s asking him to make a choice: Either become one with nature and accept himself as a mere cog, or separate his body and mind, the looks, the flesh, to something purely existential.


But I’ve went too far, I’m sure it’s nothing like you can actually picture when seeing the design. Usually I think the concept is the most important part of the process and it’s what gives me direction to create the designs. But since I don’t want to think on any directions when making experimental stuff, I try to ‘free’ myself, let my thoughts wander as I’m designing.


How did you develop this design?

It’s a collage. I gathered a load of old images, cropped them and started to experiment. It’s all digital because I HATE messing around with glue and scissors haha. I’ve been playing around with collages since I entered college, but only recently I felt comfortable enough to publish some.

What’s your favorite example of Avant Garde experimentation?

We live in a era where everything is a copy of a copy of a copy, and it’s hard to be ‘en avant’ – it’s a challenge more than ever. But I love what Bansky does, how he defies the art culture and politics

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.10.51 PM
Photo credit: Banksy

When you’re in the middle of an artist’s block, what do you do to get inspired?

Procrastinate! I understood that you can’t force yourself to do anything that you don’t want to, so if I’m having a block, I just let it be, go do something else, watch movies, play video games, workout, go for a ride etc. Eventually it goes away. 


Shop the winning design here!

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Carlyn Hill

Dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I'm not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.