Cécile Dormeau talks us through her deeply personal film about creative block

In 2020, the illustrator and artist Cécile Dormeau experienced the worst creative block she’d ever encountered. While it was exacerbated by the pandemic and all the challenges brought with it, the roots of the problem lay back in 2019, when Cécile realised she was losing her love of drawing, something that had always brought her joy. Now, Cécile has released a short film, combining illustration, photography and simple animations, exploring what she believes happened to bring about this creatively barren period and sharing how she overcame it.

One of the main reasons for what she calls her journey “from passion to frustration” was the demands of social media. In the film, entitled A Creative Block Story, Cécile talks about the pressures of Instagram, how she used to feel like she had to constantly post brilliant new work and had to receive thousands of likes and comments each time. “While social media can be great, it can also make you feel very guilty, if you are not present enough,” she says, adding: “And let’s not talk about having likes and followers.” Sometimes, though, we need to take a break from production, she says. We need “the time to breathe, to reflect on our art and where we want to go next, the time to get inspiration from somewhere else.”

The film also touches on the creativity-zapping process of producing work for clients. Brands would get in touch with Cécile, she explains, because they ostensibly loved how she represented women and women’s bodies. But then she would get their feedback, asking outrageous questions like, “Can she be thinner? Can she be less Black?” The hypocrisy didn’t stop there, however. Cécile also notes how her clients would sometimes happily use feminism as a marketing tool and in the same moment underpay a female artist.

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