Beehive Books Cofounder Maëlle Doliveux on the Importance of Working Across Disciplines

The illustrator, designer, and comics artist talks about what she’s learned as a Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence.

Kickstarter Magazine
9 min readJul 6, 2018


Maëlle Doliveux

Maëlle Doliveux’s new book of cut-paper cartoons is now live on Kickstarter. Check it out here.

Maëlle Doliveux is an artist of many disciplines. She’s an illustrator, an art director, a designer, a comics artist, a puppeteer, a fabricator… “anything that ends in -er is probably something that I’ve dabbled in,” she says. As the creative director and co-founder of Beehive Books, she helps to publish the work of established and emerging comics artists and illustrators; among their recent projects, all of which are funded through Kickstarter, the independent press is putting out two books exploring the work of the obscure (and totally fascinating) early 20th century illustrators Harrison Cady and Herbert Crowley.

For the first time, Doliveux is merging her own artistic explorations with her work at Beehive. As part of the Kickstarter Creators-in-Residence program, Doliveux has been working on a collection of cut-paper comics that will be published under the Beehive Books imprint.

She recently sat down with Lindsay Howard, Kickstarter’s Manager of Creator Initiatives, for a conversation about how she made the leap from studying architecture to working as a comics artist and illustrator, what she learned from running her first Kickstarter campaign back in 2016, and why she believes in working and collaborating across creative disciplines.

Left: “Adultery,” illustration for Carrier Pigeon Magazine. Right: “Fractured,” cut paper artwork for The New York Times’ Private Lives blog. Images courtesy of Maëlle Doliveux

Lindsay Howard: Can you tell us a little bit about the cut-paper process and why that medium suits you?

Maëlle Doliveux: I like cut paper because it suits my weaknesses as well as my strengths. I originally got drawn to it because I was struggling with color, and it was a way for me to pick my color palette before making the image. I also come from an architectural background; I studied architecture and I was an architectural assistant for a year. I really like working three-dimensionally and with light. With cut paper, I can work with all of that.

I’ve basically always been cutting paper, since I was little. I didn’t make paper dolls, but I made paper houses and would make paper cell phones, paper computers. I was a very cool child, is what I’m trying to say. I still try to have that sense of play in my work. I like cut paper because it’s not something that a lot of people pursue.

“I like cut paper because it suits my weaknesses as well as my strengths.”

Do you have a formal background in art?

I studied architecture in England for three years. I worked in an architectural office for a year as an assistant. I did not enjoy it. I was doing everything that I did not like about architecture for a year: technical drawings of suspended ceilings in a renovation. I had to do 29 of those. If you want to talk about suspended ceilings, don’t talk to me.

Then I was like, “I want to take a break and try something else.” I thought illustration sounded fun, and I found SVA, the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I saw that they also offered comics classes, and I was like, “If I go there, I can also take these classes, and I don’t have to tell my parents I’m studying comics.” When you tell your parents, “I’m going to university to study comics,” most parents are like, “What is happening in your life?” [My parents] are now totally on board and they have a better sense of what I do, and they understand that it’s possible to make a living as a creative professional.

What was your first introduction to Kickstarter as a platform?

It was actually in the Comedy section. I knew Taylor [Moore, Kickstarter’s Director of Comedy] from UCB, where I also do improv, because I like to think I’m a hilarious person. Through the UCB community, I know a whole bunch of comedians. Two of them, Ryan Haney and Matthew Brian Cohen, wanted to put together a humor magazine. They were like, “We want to do a really silly version of The New Yorker, but we can only do the writing, and we need someone who’s good with design and illustration to be able to put it together.” It’s called Janice Magazine.

They paid [to produce] the first issue out of pocket, and it was [printed] on this very cheap newsprint. It was fun, but we wanted to be a little bit more ambitious with the second issue, and so we decided to do a Kickstarter for it. It was a huge learning experience; it was everyone’s first Kickstarter project.

Front and back cover art for Janice Magazine

What were your takeaways from that first Kickstarter project?

We did not ask for enough money, and we did not think about shipping or numbers or the math part of things [when we were setting a funding goal]. For example, we wanted to do posters. I got a quote for 200 posters, and it was $3 a poster. I was like, “Oh, perfect. [We’ll] charge $6.” Then only three people actually wanted the poster. Then it was like, “Ah. Now these cost far more [to print] all of a sudden, and also shipping a poster is more expensive than I estimated.”

We lost money in certain areas, but luckily it was okay. And we had a lot of fun with rewards. Because it was a comedy magazine, we did really silly things, like we would tear out certain pages, or we would sign them by fake celebrities. We literally put mustard and mayonnaise and relish into an envelope and sent it to someone. Don’t tell the U.S. Post Office that we did that.

“We literally put mustard and mayonnaise and relish into an envelope and sent it to someone.”

What led you to Beehive Books?

Through a friend, I was told about this anthology called Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream. My partner at Beehive Books, Josh O’Neill, was working on that with his previous company, Locust Moon Press. It’s this beautiful big anthology tribute to Winsor McCay and “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” which was a very early American comic. I heard about the book, and I was like, “Can I do it?” I interpreted their “maybe” as a hard yes, and I just went for it.

I met Josh a little while later in person, and we hit it off and became friends. He was just about to launch his next project when he asked me to jump on board as creative director. That was our first book together [as Beehive Books]. It’s called The Temple of Silence. It’s about an artist called Herbert Crowley, who’s a turn-of-the-century illustrator. He was really into the occult and had this crazy story, and he completely fell into obscurity.

The book’s author, Justin Duerr, did amazing research to find out all these wonderful things about [Crowley] and all of his old artwork; [Crowley] also destroyed some of his own artwork toward the end of his life because he thought it had this dark power on the world. [Duerr] put together this book and it did really well [on Kickstarter], and that got us rolling.

“The Temple of Mysteries,” from The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Worlds of Herbert Crowley

How did you hear about the Kickstarter Creators-in-Residence program?

Maëlle Doliveux: Through Margot [Atwell, Kickstarter’s Director of Publishing]. It was good timing; I wanted to work on a book of my own stories, and Josh had convinced me to do it through Beehive, and I said okay.

What are you working on while you’re here in house?

Maëlle Doliveux: We completed our most recent campaign, which is about the artist Harrison Cady. He’s also a turn-of-the-century illustrator who has not been given his due, and we’re putting a book together of his work.

We also finished a project called LAAB magazine, created by Ron Wimberly. It’s a comics and pop culture magazine on politics and race and science fiction. Ron wrote most of the essays, created some jaw-dropping art, and also brought on some very talented collaborators. Saul Williams [who has a live Kickstarter campaign for his poetry-musical film, Neptune Frost] was one of the contributors. Ron’s work is incredible, and it’s such a thought-provoking magazine. It was such a delight work on it. We’ve started selling that.

Now I’m working on designing a series of illustrated classics with three big-name illustrators. The idea was that the artists that we work with would choose the classic that they wanted to illustrate. That’s another wonderful thing about Kickstarter, we can give established artists more creative freedom in what they want to do, as well as providing a platform for new voices.

“[Through Kickstarter] we can give established artists more creative freedom in what they want to do, as well as providing a platform for new voices.”

When you came [into the Creators-in-Residence program], you also had this idea of developing your own project. So it was a transitional moment for you as well.

Maëlle Doliveux: Yeah. I’m so excited about pushing other people’s work, sometimes I [forget to be] like, “I’m doing my own thing as well.” I’m trying to be better about self-promotion. I’m working on a book of cut-paper short stories. They’re all stories about mortality in different ways. One is about a genetically modified mushroom who witnesses the end of the world.

I’ve been working on this story and outlining some of the other stories and figuring out how I want all of them to get together as a whole, and thinking about some of the rewards that I want to do [for the Kickstarter campaign]. I will be starting to physically cut some of these out of paper in the next week or so. I will try to do some time-lapse photography of myself working.

Storyboard sketch from Doliveux’s cut-paper story about a genetically modified mushroom who witnesses the end of the world

What are some of the most important resources you’ve been using so far [at Kickstarter]?

Maëlle Doliveux: The physical space itself is a huge asset. Even though my studio is right around the corner, I work with so many people in a smaller space, and I don’t have the opportunity to be able to set up a film system. I think a big part of what’s going to sell this book is showing people my process. Having the ability to set up a time-lapse rig is really important.

Even more important than that are all the people I’ve met here, including Margot and Camilla [Zhang, Kickstarter’s Comics Outreach Lead]. The other Creators-in-Residence have been a huge asset. It’s very much like a mini master’s program, where you’re with a bunch of people and they’re all doing their own thing, but they’re all really good at it. It’s really inspiring. Also, everybody is knowledgeable about how to use Kickstarter in different ways.

Even though some things, like timelines, can vary [widely] in how projects are made — the fields are so varied between dance and publishing and TV shows — there is a lot of overlap. I’m a strong believer in multidisciplinarianism and having things cross over. I think that the more people specialize in something, the less it can open out and connect to a lot of people. You get stuck mulling over the same ideas. Meeting different people from vastly different fields [gives you] a huge creative momentum. Hearing what other people are thinking about and the different ways that people are solving problems through Kickstarter is really inspiring.

From Maëlle Doliveux’s new book, ‘I Will Live Forever,’ now live on Kickstarter



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