In 1981, our founding members meet for the first time at the opening of an exhibition featuring the first illustration contest for children's books in Quebec, organized by Communication-Jeunesse. The twelve passionate illustrators realize that while many of them enjoy being part of a generous publishing industry, they also suffer injustices. They meet again at a café on Park Avenue in Montreal with the shared desire to create an association (the Association of Illustrators of Quebec - AIIQ).
Why found an association? The idea is to promote the illustration practice across media and bring together all kinds of illustrators from different backgrounds, both French and English, while fostering exchanges between them to boost the production quality.
In 1982, the Association truly begins to offer services: events, conferences, contests, and international exchanges are set up.
In 1983, the first AIIQ logo is designed while the officialization of the Association occurs on January 26. Two years later, the Survival Kit takes form (standard contract, code of ethics, fee schedule, membership directory). Meanwhile, Portfolio Evenings take place every first Friday of the month. In 1987, the first Illustration Québec repertoire is produced and shipped to a list of customers. The same year, the Salon de l'illustration launches its first edition out of eleven. In 1988, the Association takes a stand against the C.60 law (the Copyright Act) and Bill 78, the status of the visual artist, at the presentation in committee of a memoire by Thierry Sauer. In early 1989, the RAAV comes alive when five visual arts associations unite to deal with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The basic proposal is the congregation of the five associations enabling them to share secretarial services and the premises.
In 1991, a sponsorship service between illustrators is established. The Association opens up a section in Quebec, which closes a few years later due to financial problems. In the early 90s, the AIIQ maintains its involvement with the RAAV. However, following discussions with the CALQ, the Association repositions itself and becomes a service association while the RAAV is granted the copyright file. The last edition of the Salon de l’illustration takes place and subsequently becomes the Biennial of Illustration, in 1998, commemorating the AIIQ’s 15 years of existence. During that same year the Association launches its first website to enhance the visibility of its members. In 1999, the AIIQ travels to Rome with a new exhibition.
Between 2000 and now
Portfolios Evenings are still at the agenda. In 2000, the AIIQ joins Infopresse Group and together they create the Grafika competition. Later on, the Association partners with the LUX Contest which highlights the best creations in illustration and photography. In 2003, the third and final edition of the Biennial of Illustration takes place. The activity must cease despite its success, due to lack of grant. A year later, the first edition of Orgie d’originaux, an artwork exhibition and sale event, takes place. In 2004, the AIIQ moves into the Belgo building located in downtown Montreal. Two years later, the Association creates Tuesday Live Models, which in 2010 becomes Monday Live Models.
In 2007, the AIIQ website is revamped, offering self-managed portfolios with clear and effective search tools. The Association also opens up an exhibition space on its premises, which from then on hosts ten exhibitions a year. This helps revive the mission of the Biennial, namely allowing the public to discover the illustration art while providing a unique exhibition place to illustrators. In March 2008, 50 illustrators go to Toronto to showcase their portfolios to industry professionals. After a year off, the directory comes back to life completely revamped. At the same time, the Association reveals the user-friendly features of its new website among which search tools tailored to customer needs. The Association also takes a new turn sporting a new name "Illustration Québec" and new logo, while membership categories are redefined. The Association continues to radiate outside of Quebec through a collective exhibition at the Taipei Book Fair, and a second edition of the Portfolio Evenings in Toronto in spring 2011.
IQ also organizes conferences on various topics related to Illustration, in academic institutions as well as for its members. These conferences gives life to the Illustrator’s Survival Guide in 2010, available in French and English. The second edition is published in 2014. In parallel with all this, Illustration Québec multiplies partnerships. Furthermore, the Association participates, with the SDGQ, to "13 Gurus and Me", an activity aiming emerging illustrators. IQ also creates exhibitions with Communication-Jeunesse and is at the Montreal Book Fair, among other events. In 2013, the Association files a memoire on the unique book price to the parliamentary committee. For four years up to 2014, IQ joins the school board of Montreal (CSDM) to direct and produce a contest, Les écrivains de demain, as part of French Week.
In 2012, Illustration Québec moves into an art studio, the Chat des artistes, which puts an end to the gallery. Exhibitions become less frequent, henceforth occurring once or twice per year and always in different places. In 2015, a joint exhibition with the CAPIC (photographers) is organized with great success. The same year, 15 illustrators get together with IQ and Les p’tits mots-dits to decorate the walls of the Dominique-Savio Youth Center in Montreal.