Guillaume Brière
Montréal/Toronto-based Artist and Creative Director with a decade of experience in the luxury and lifestyle category
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Guillaume Brière - Montréal/Toronto-based Creative Director with a decade of experience in the luxury and lifestyle category


About

Creative Director Guillaume Brière thrives on spontaneity and bold colours. Both his commercial and artistic works command a reaction. Now pursuing a freelance career, Guillaume has shed the shackles of corporate life to bring all luxury brands to his happy place.

Interview by Bobby Box
Portrait by Les Garçons

Guillaume Brière, Montreal/Toronto-based Creative Director specialized in Luxury Brands branded content and advertising
 
 

Raised in the countryside of Québec, Guillaume knew he’d take the first opportunity to hightail it out of there. That opportunity presented itself after Guillaume graduated from college at 18, working as a graphic designer in downtown Montréal. Still a kid at the time, Guillaume established his passion and drive from the onset. While friends partied on weekends, he slaved away at the office. While coworkers sat blasé in creative meetings, Guillaume made his (sometimes indecipherably French) voice heard. 

Fortunately, this ambition – fuelled by early eagerness and naivety – provided the budding artist a prosperous career, where he’s injected beauty in the pages of fashion magazines (Elle Québec), produced photoshoots around the world as design director for Fairmont Hotels (Bookmark Content) and created international campaigns as creative director for a luxury brand (Birks). 

Since childhood, Guillaume, whose inherent creativity was established at birth, devoted much of his life to refining his artistic aesthetic, working with pastels, makeups, Crayola Washables – whatever left a mark on a page. From the childhood doodles his parents proudly displayed on their fridge, to images plastered on billboards in the world’s largest cities, Guillaume revelled in witnessing his creations being brought to life.

Glamour and children’s art influence his aesthetic. The conflict between the two ordains his creative process. To Guillaume, real glamour doesn’t try, it just is. (he’s drawn to the Italian term “sprezzatura,” or “the art of not trying.”) This careless glamour, married with the innocence of childhood art, is the tension he seeks when he creates. It’s ugly, but beautiful. When beginning a new project – usually while The Shopping Network offers soothing ambient noise – he doesn’t seek perfection. Rather, a reaction from the client and their consumers. “I want to make people feel something,” he shares.

 

“I’d get so frustrated creating illustrations because I could never get them perfect. However, as I continued to draw, this thread of imperfection became what I loved most about my work.”

 
Ugly Beautiful  (Pastels on paper).   A portrait of Spanish actress Rossy de Palm.

Ugly Beautiful (Pastels on paper). A portrait of Spanish actress Rossy de Palm.

 
 

Guillaume’s creativity is largely inspired by 80’s and 90’s movies. To him, it was a time that vignettes were more cartoonish and theatrical (Mommie Dearest (1981), Death Becomes Her (1992), The Addams Family (1991), are a few of his favourites). In print, he’s drawn to the chic yet désinvolte attitudes within Vogue Paris and Vogue Italy, as evidenced by their loud, over-the-top editorials and bold, sometimes off typography. “I see beauty in cliché and imperfection,” he explains. 

 
 
 
Guilaume’s appartement reflects his creative philosophy: glam meets pop, old meets new.

Guilaume’s appartement reflects his creative philosophy: glam meets pop, old meets new.

 
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There was a definitive moment this intentionally unrefined aesthetic became clear. “I’d get so frustrated creating illustrations because I could never get them perfect,” he recalls. “However, as I continued to draw, this thread of imperfection became what I loved most about my work.” Guillaume enjoyed the fact that the figures he drew looked more like a monster than a Mona Lisa. It was more theatrical and interesting. It’s why Karl Lagerfeld became an early cultural mentor of his. To Guillaume, Lagerfeld is not only a designer, but an advertising professional and illustrator who ended up in fashion. That narrative spoke to him. “I appreciate [Lagerfeld] for his mind and formula,” Guillaume says. “I know this sounds strange: I love fashion, but I hate clothes. To me, fashion tells a story. It’s a performance. I’ve found Lagerfeld’s vision exhibits exactly that.” 

Guillaume’s approach to professional projects is similarly evocative: he values instinct over data. He feels before he thinks. Creating with spontaneous naivety is fundamental to his process. “As creative director, it’s my role to create a mythology around a brand. Today, it’s all about attitude and having a P.O.V.”

 

“As creative director, it’s my role to create a mythology around a brand. Today, it’s all about attitude and having a P.O.V.”

 
Guillaume visual signature plays with rich colour palette, graphic composition and bold photography.

Guillaume visual signature plays with rich colour palette, graphic composition and bold photography.

 


Now, Guillaume has embarked on a solo career as a freelance creative director, finally free of the corporate chains. The corporate life prevented Guillaume from doing what he was supposed to do: create. The higher he climbed the corporate ladder, the more he became a manager, further removed from the creative process. So he chose to remove himself and pursue a freelance career all his own. To do what he does best: be creative and deliver fresh ideas and perspectives. “In doing so, I found myself,” Guillaume shares. “The real me that I lost in the monotony of office life. Now I can bring the joy that a creative is supposed to bring, like I did as a kid where it all began.”