The last time we checked in on the virtual appearances of Ms. Jeannie it was May. Now, September is just days away already, can you believe it, dear readers?
While Ms. Jeannie is looking forward to the cool, cozy days of Autumn, the impending holiday season, and a few treats she’ll share soon, she also feels incredibly humbled and privileged to have been featured on these following sites this summer…
A little link in the inspiration chain for watercolor artist Kelly Bermudez, came in the form of Ms. Jeannie’s vintage 1949 “hear” flash card photograph…
Stop by and see more of Kelly’s beautiful work here.
THE ETSY BLOG
Editor’s Picks: Stories of the Sea featured 11 nautical themed items on Etsy – one of which was Ms. Jeannie’s 1940’s photograph portrait of a sailor. Sailor was very pleased indeed to be among such comrades:)
Pixiport is an online marketing site for fine art photographers. Ms. Jeannie is thrilled that they just featured her June 2012 interview with French photographer Yann Pendaries! See the Pixiport featutre here and see more of Yann’s work here.
Discreet Charms is written by California blogger Dana, and features a wide variety of stunning people, places and things that inspire her. In August, she wrote an incredibly lovely post about Ms. Jeannie’s vintage shop. Goodness gracious – Ms. Jeannie could not have been more touched by her kind words.
ART CRAFT SECRETS
Art Craft Secrets, an internet business and marketing site geared toward creative enterprises, recently published an E-Book entitled How to Set Up a Successful Etsy Store. Ms. Jeannie’s shop was one of three sample shops used throughout the book to highlight various aspects of marketing and promotion. Ms. Jeannie was thrilled to help aid, in whatever small way, a new batch of future Etsy sellers!
It’s been an incredibly rewarding season – chock full of interesting new perspectives, people and passions. Thank you to all the above and to all you dear readers for taking the time and effort to include Ms. Jeannie in your life. Cheers to a new season and to new start!
We are in the middle of our first ice storm of the season, here in the South. The weather is so grey and dark and COLD, Ms. Jeannie thought this would be a lovely time to take a little trip. Where are we going, you ask? Why, it’s off to France, my dears! To visit a bookbinder in Lyon, who specializes in upcycled journals.
Since she was small, Ms. Jeannie has had a love affair with journals and diaries, doodlebooks and sketch pads. But it wasn’t until her early 20’s that she really started to depend on them as confidante, emotional therapy and creative outlet.
During one particular portion of her life, Ms. Jeannie carried a journal around with her everywhere she went. She was in her early 20’s, living in New York, attending college, working at a Manhattan publishing company and living in an old warehouse in Brooklyn. She was exploring the city with her girlfriends, falling in and out of love with boyfriends and in the last book from those years, fell in love with THE boyfriend, who eventually became her husband, the very handsome Mr. Jeannie Ology.
These are her journals from that time…
There are quite a few of them because she challenged herself for one entire year to put down her reading book on the subway (her most preferred activity for train travel) and to pick up her pen and just free-write in her journal. If you are unfamiliar with free form writing, basically you just start with a thought and go from there without any sort of restriction or point. A steady stream of conscious, if you will. For example…The train smells like onions today. There are pearl onions in my freezer, in a blue bag with a bird on it. I think the bird is an eagle, with wings outstretched. I wonder if an eagle has ever ridden on the subway. Maybe it would get on at Central Park and get off at Battery Park… maybe the eagle is going to visit the Statue of Liberty. Maybe they are friends and spend their days discussing the stresses of being national icons. (So there you go from onions to eagles to national symbolism – all in a minute with Ms. Jeannie!).
For the most part this activity occurred twice a day while she was commuting, usually once in the morning and once at night. The writing project sparked a few short stories, but mostly they were just daily observations of things going on around her…sights, sounds, feelings. Notes from a girl and a city going through their daily paces.
As you can imagine, New York is a bevy of interest and intrigue practically every moment – so there was lots of material. She started going through journals faster then she’d ever had before which meant journal shopping became a regular routine. She had this one favorite bookshop, in particular, in the World Trade Center, that she loved. They carried a whole section of handmade journals there and Ms. Jeannie loved the fact that no two ever really looked the same. Her first book purchased from that shop was made out of recycled banana leaves, the last out of silk fabric scraps from India. Both very different in style yet each had been made by hand. Selecting which one to buy seemed as important as selecting which words to write.
So that brings us to our little trip. Ms. Jeannie thought it would be fun to learn about the writer’s craft from the other side of the notebook. So off we go on a magical trip to Lyon, France to chat with Karen, bookbinder extraordinaire beyond the Etsy journal shop Spellbinderie …
Ms. Jeannie: Your shop really is magical – from the name right down the line to the contents. How did you decide on Spellbinderie?
Karen: The name came to me after many agonizing nights spent brainstorming with my husband. I wanted a shop name that reflected the concept of binding while also suggesting upcycling/transformation and my location, France. Finally Spellbinderie came to me while I was thinking about words that had -bind or -binding in them. This word said all I hoped my journals would be, enchanting, fascinating, unputdownable. I think upcycling is a bit of magic, it’s transformation, a second life, so the wordplay kept working, spell, craft, bind. Once I was settled on the name, my husband suggested the spelling, using the “ie” instead of a “y” for a French touch.
MJ: Tell us a little bit about living in Lyon. Is that where you grew up?
K: I’m American, my husband is French. We met in Brooklyn just over 5 years ago and after three years together, he asked me if I’d be willing to leave my beloved Brooklyn and move to his hometown, Lyon. I was admittedly smitten with the idea of living in France and jumped at the opportunity. Plus we both wanted to have more time to create with our hands and do more traveling, instead of work, work, work. Brooklyn is an exciting place to live but it’s very much a career-oriented, go, go, go, type of city and I felt ready for a change. Lyon is a pretty city, famous for it’s gastronomy and well-located in the southeast of France. It’s a calmer pace, which I enjoy, while still being a good sized city, but I do miss coffee to go and good Mexican food!
MJ: How did you become interested in binding?
K: Honestly it just sort of happened. My romantic move to France had the ugly reality of finding a job. A big hurdle considering I did not speak a word of French. My former career was in documentary film editing but I wanted to change my path. A friend of mine back in the US was doing really well selling vintage on Etsy. He encouraged me to do the same here. I began going to flea markets, thrift shops and yard sales, picking up this and that to sell, constantly drawn towards the gorgeous vintage books, often damaged but still enchanting. I’ve always had a passion for old books, started to collect them when I was quite young. I started to collect more here thinking eventually I’d figure out what to do with them. From there I researched upcycling ideas online and stumbled on bookbinding. I knew that was it, I just had to learn how.
MJ: I love how your books are actual stories within stories. Does it take a long time to concept the construction a book? What is your most favorite part of the process?
K: Right from the start I wanted to make my journals more than just blank pages. What inspires me is a book’s history, where it’s been, who’s hands held it, what were they thinking, doing, eating, sitting, dreaming? The old paper calls me with it’s soft texture and warm color and I’m absolutely smitten by old handwriting or bits of paper or cards left behind. In the end, it’s my own imagination, my need to tell stories, my love of secrets and mystery, that is my favorite part of the process. I want that to be bound right into the journal.
MJ: Do you have a sourcing method for all the old books and papers you incorporate into your items? Are you scouring France for great papers?!
K: I’m scouring my section of France for sure! I have a wonderful local thrift shop and the proceeds go to help the poor and needy, so an added bonus for buying there. I also shop the flea markets and vide-greniers, or “empty attics”, the French version of a yard sale. I’m lucky that my in-laws are avid thrifters and often find amazing books for me to use as well. My vacations tend to include a bit of thrifting now too.
MJ: What is your most favorite item in your shop at the moment?
K: My custom made “Layo” artist sketchbook, I think. The photos don’t do it justice, I’m limited to how many photos I can add on Etsy so kept the focus on practical matters. The “Layo” was made for a repeat customer who’s an artist and avid journaler. We always work together to create very unique sketchbooks that fit her needs and I love each and every one of them.
MJ: What’s your best customer story? Do you sell your books anywhere else besides Etsy?
K: My best customer story is related to the “Layo” sketchbook. The sketchbook is named for her of course. She is very creative and pushes me, in a good way, to be more creative and learn new things. Her orders are the most time consuming because they are never simple and sometimes I need to think outside the box to make what she wants or to find suitable material. I love the challenge and the result. She’s been a customer for almost a year now and has become a friend through our conversations and collaborations. I probably would not know this amazing woman if I weren’t selling online!
I just started to list on Dawanda but Etsy is my main focus for selling.
MJ: Are most of your clients writers?
K: I’d say my clients are brides, next would be writers. I also get quite a few men ordering custom journals as gifts for their creative girlfriends. I LOVE that! It’s really exciting to make a special gift for someone and I have to say it, I’m impressed with these super cool and thoughtful boyfriends.
MJ: Do you have an educational background in bookbinding?
K: No, I am self-taught through instructional videos and books plus lots of practice before I opened my shop. I am interested in taking a few courses in high level binding in order to improve and perfect my technique and be able to offer more variety in binding style but haven’t found the right course in my area. I’ve also reached out to some professional bookbinders for advice and found the community supportive.
MJ: Do you have a shop bestseller?
K: My wedding guestbooks are by far my biggest sellers but next would be my Retro Journal Series which are crafted from small antique books that have a math, literature, science or geography theme. I fell in love with this type of book early on, drawn to their distressed covers and simple cream and black color scheme.
I wanted to make them more distressed and mysterious, gatekeepers of secret formulas and agendas, by adding bits of the text, tattered reclaimed paper and burning the paper edges. I loved that it looked like it had been traveling around, maybe having a few too many drinks and a bar fight for it’s own good. When I listed the first one, it sold immediately, which shocked me because I honestly thought it would take awhile to find the right buyer. Turns out people love them just as much as I do and just like that this line was born. Which just goes to show you, ALWAYS follow your heart and your own style.
MJ: Is there an ideal type of book you look for when your sourcing your papers?
K: I look primarily for whatever catches my eye, could be great illustrations, a beautiful cover, a wonderfully distressed cover. I stay away from anything rare or in demand as well as too damaged or fragile.
MJ: When you are not working on your books what else occupies your time?
K: I love watching movies, reading, traveling, camping and photography. I also love to cook, and eat quite frankly. I enjoy infusing booze too! I make my own bitters and infused rum, known as rhum arrangé here, which comes from Reunion, an island off of Africa. It’s delicious! Only hard part is being patient for at least three months before you can enjoy.
MJ: Are your customers mostly in Europe or the US?
K: Primarily in the US and UK, then Canada and Australia.
MJ: Are you a journaler yourself? If so, do you make all of your own journals?
K: I’m always a bit nervous when asked this question because I am not a journaler and wonder if buyers would be turned off by that. My pleasure is in bookbinding and designing though, not in writing. I’m a storyteller but do so visually. My former career as a film editor probably seems so different from my new career but both involve taking pieces of something and stitching them together to create a new thing. Both end up with my interpretation of the story.
MJ:What is it about the art of journaling that attracts people?
K: I think I’m not qualified to answer since I am not a journaler but I would assume it’s the same thing that attracts me to bookbinding or film editing: it feels good to do and it’s necessary to do, to create.
MJ: Do customers ever send you pictures of their journals or guest books all filled out? I bet they’d look incredible!
K: I’ve been hoping someone would but I think journaling tends to be a private thing more than not. I made a guestbook for a friend of mine in Lyon and that was so exciting. I got to see the reaction of her guests to my creation and see the guestbook afterwards.
MJ: What is your design space/studio like?
K: We live in a loft like space with a mezzanie. The area of Lyon that we live in is known for these kind of apartments because this area was formerly a silk weaving neighborhood. The buildings have very high ceilings to allow for the silk weaving frames and the mezzanines were where the weavers slept or for use as offices.
My studio space is not separated from my living area which means there is no door to shut, making it hard for me to really draw a line between work life and private life. That can be tough sometimes but I love my neighborhood and my open space. As much as I’d love to shut the door and go home at the end of my work day, I enjoy having everything right at hand too.
MJ: What inspires your work (besides antiques books, obviously!)
K: My neighborhood. I walk around looking at the architecture, I’m particularly drawn to the distressed doors and wood beam ceilings. I am also a fan of Keith Smith, a book artist. His work is very very different than mine but inspires me and pushes me to try new things.
MJ: As far as gathering books for eventual re-purposing into journals, what subject matter interests you most?
Generally fiction because of the ornate covers and pretty illustrations. I love the drama, especially a darker, more gothic type. I also love geography and history books with old maps and descriptions about various places. I recently started making journals for a US buyer who spends quite a bit of time in the Alps. He’s an avid mountaineer, skier and journaler. He contacted me to find old books on the subject to transform into journals and now I am hooked on these books too. I discovered Pierre and Georges Tairraz, amazing photographers who traveled around taking incredible photos.
MJ: Do you have any new year’s resolutions? What is one thing you plan to accomplish in your Etsy shop this year? K: Double my sales, hire a part time assistant for the spring/summer wedding rush, come up with new ideas, learn a new binding technique.
Karen is currently reading:
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. My favorite author!
MJ: What music are you listening to?
K: Hmmm, I’m 44 and sadly finding I’m listening to less and less new music! My iTunes recent playlist shows: Joy Division, Bjork, Kate Bush, Portishead, Bear In Heaven, Birdie Nam Nam, Mahmoud Ahmed, PJ Harvey
Do you have questions for Karen? Post them in the comments section and Ms. Jeannie will be sure they get to her. Or you can visit her shop here. Also, click on any of the Spellbinderie journal pictures in this post for more detailed information.
Not ready to leave the beauty of France quite yet? No worries, my dear, read a previous interview with French photographer Yann Pendaries here.
Or enjoy a year full of Ms. Jeannie’s other interesting interviews here.
As a child, Ms. Jeannie spent a lot of time in France, traveling about the country with her family. Home base was always The Crillon Hotel in Paris or the Loews Monte Carlo (now the Fairmont) on the French Riviera, but Ms. Jeannie’s parents insisted she and her sister know all of France including the waterways, so road trips (and boat trips!) were had.
Not having traveled back to France since she was about 15 years old, Ms. Jeannie retains a child-like wonder for all things French. Memories lean towards moments and feelings instead of specific places and experiences….rich hot chocolate, the sound of patent leather Mary Janes on marble floors, boat rides down the Seine, her first taste of risotto, lemony perfume, two cheek kisses, children’s books all in French, toothpick thin pommes frites and the secret “European language” Ms. Jeannie and her sister made up.
Ms. Jeannie’s France is all about terraced hillsides, Bastille Day fireworks, hours long luncheons. She recalls her mother’s bright orange Hermes shopping bags and a pair of fantastic red shoes Ms. Jeannie’s eight year old heart just had to have. There was a fretful play date with a French boy named Tomas, that ended in the throwing of toys and tears. There was the first time Ms. Jeannie saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the first time she flirted with a boy on a mo-ped and the first time she played the game of petanque with a group of locals.
And then there was the last time she saw the Eiffel Tower.
It was a grey and rainy Paris afternoon. Ms. Jeannie didn’t want to leave. She tried wholeheartedly to convince her father to stay an extra day or two, but he was adamant about schedules and airplanes and life needing to be resumed back in the States. So home they went. Ms. Jeannie felt more than disappointed, not because she didn’t get her way, but because for the first time in her life she felt displaced. Caught between two worlds and two cultures at a tender age. That was the year that the feelings of wanderlust set in. And never quite let go.
Difficult to put into words, this combination of desire and unease, Ms. Jeannie was delighted to happen upon the contemporary photography of Yann Pendaries, whose work, both magical and moody conveys images of France that are both dream-like and real. His hot air balloon series, in particular are some of Ms. Jeannie’s favorites.
Those childhood days in France float around her mind just like that balloon floats around the photograph. Sometimes easy to spot, others times more difficult, but always there, always floating.
Below, read about the inspiration behind Yann’s work as he takes us on a little unexpected weekend getaway to his France, where we discuss all things cultural from art to wine to history.
Ms. Jeannie: So, you are a photographer based in Paris… is that where you grew up?
Yann Pendaries:I was born in the city of Orleans, where Joan of Arc played a part in the history of France … I spent part of my life there, and came to live in Paris in 2002.
MJ: What inspires you about your city? What are the top 5 places that inspire your work?
YP: Paris is a magical city that has withstood the din of war, one can still feel the medieval atmosphere through the narrow streets of the historic center, when you walk in the streets you can still discover new buildings or new stories.
Paris is endless images, every time I stroll through the city, I always discover new things which inspires my eye. My inspiration usually comes by chance, but most of the time especially in Paris. I have three main inspirations, colorful characters that I capture with great discretion…
…essential buildings like the Eiffel Tower (I try to magnify it with different angles)…
and last but not least, I love the gardens in Paris, my favorite being the Luxembourg Garden, in the center of Paris.
Why specifically this garden? For me it is very representative of Paris from the 1950s, where you can still find toys rentals (small wooden boats that children push with sticks on the fountain, and which exists since the 1940s), in any season this garden is beautiful with fountains, thousands of trees, horses where children can also take a ride. Look in my shop for Paris pictures and you will discover the love I have for this garden.
My last two inspirations have more to do with photographic creations, I try to make up magical worlds and I try to immerse the viewer in an idyllic world where dreams and poetry make you forget the worries of life.
I am currently working on two series, one is the hot balloon trip, to make you discover “my” Europe by scenery and lights I captured through my travels, and the other one is about the tiny trades self portraits; a little guy helps you understand for example how are created pretty things that you see all the time, I suppose that this way, you discover the beauty of simple things around you and afterwards you don’t look the same way at these small things in life.
MJ: How long have you called yourself a photographer? What drives your passion for it?
YP: I have officially been a professional photographer for 7 years, but have been keen on photography since the age of 9. In fact my father had an old film camera ; one day I decided to take it and make images for fun, and then I realized it was a way for me to express feelings I could not say otherwise. Thanks to photography I could also capture moments of sharing with friends and create memories of moments that lasted a second and which I would have surely forgotten now, but engraved on film for life the memories are everlasting.
And then over time I began studying photography a little more to discover photographers, to see exhibitions and to improve my eye. I tried several styles of photography with a lot of failure trying to imitate others, but I realize now that I have found my style and my world and this motivates me even more now (and photography is like a music instrument, the more you practice the easier it is to write light, like a music sheet), and every day I want to go further into my world and share it with others.
MJ: Describe your studio space.
YP: My studio is small but big enough for me to make my pictures, look, here is a photo to give you an idea of my space. Now you know my secret when I produce my images 🙂
MJ: Paris is full of magic – it’s people, it’s architecture, it’s culture. As a photographer, do you ever feel overwhelmed by it’s beauty? Are there things about living in Paris that you don’t like?
YP: No, Paris is a constant source of inspiration, because every street, every neighborhood, every building or cultural events are different and it always brings a new vision of things.
What I hate, as in all great cities of the world are the constant noise of cars, the people rushing to get from point A to point B without even looking around or looking up and discovering or re-discovering the beautiful neighborhoods. That’s why I like to isolate myself in the parks and gardens where it is so quiet and relaxing, or getting off the main streets and strolling along the tiny streets where there is virtually no-one.
This is also why I hate the Champs Elysees, where there only are expensive shops and which have no interest for me. Many tourists coming to Paris absolutely want to go on the Champs Elysees, but when foreign friends come to visit me I do not bring them there, I take them in the popular neighborhoods and make them discover the real Paris and usually they are thrilled to discover it.
MJ: If you didn’t live in France, where would live?
YP: Without hesitation, it would be in Berlin, Germany, I discovered this city 2 years ago and it was a revelation! The city is not really beautiful because it was ravaged by war, and post-war communism did not help, but there is a true cultural spirit, so many events are held there throughout the year.
Berliners are really nice and open minded people, and moreover, life is really not expensive, and it’s very nice to have some fun without spending much money.
MJ: Recently, you worked on a hot air balloon photo assignment. Can you explain a little about the project and what you gained from the experience – besides gorgeous photographs;)
YP: This project is intended to uncover Europe for people who do not know it, and to share the extraordinary landscapes you can find there, as well as perhaps make them want to come here. There are so many things to discover and to do that I felt compelled to share with you my experience, the fact of adding a hot balloon and create a real story with a little poetry to the point that some people sent me messages to ask me if I really was inside the hot air balloon was so much fun.
I also created a character, Aphiles, who tells through his diary his balloon adventures in each country. Why Aphiles, you can guess 🙂 I actually play with the name of the character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days, that’s it, my secret is out 🙂
MJ: Many of your photographs are romantic in nature, with dreamy settings, soft colors and love laced-themes. Does it take you a long time to set-up shots?
YP: The most of my outdoor photos are taken from live moments, without expecting that anything would happens. I’m here at time T and if something should happen it must be now, I will not wait 1h or 2 hours and cause the thing to happen, the best time is now and not tomorrow or in 1 hour.
For me the best lights are evening lights, which only last 15 minutes, so for me it is not worth it to wait, with this parameter I have very little time, I am here and I’m not going to be running to another place, this is my definition of time and present.
For other pictures, like the Tiny trades series, it usually takes me a full day to make a picture, because I have to take different elements separately, then I take a picture of myself and then digitally edit everything.
Sometimes the positions of objects do not fit to what I had in mind, and I have to start over. I really like doing this, and I have a lot of fun constructing the picture and adding personal effects that give a dreamy and poetic aspect to the image.
MJ: As an artist do you ever get frustrated about not being to communicate an idea through the lens? If so, how do you combat that?
YP: Sometimes I wish I could express specific ideas, and if I can not do it I may be a little frustrated at the time, but it does not matter, because I remember the idea and another time may arise when I can finally realize it, I have the whole life before me and thousands of opportunities can happen, you just have to be patient.
MJ: Your wife is an artist also, with a fashion-based Etsy shop, Malam. How is it being on the other side of the camera as her product model? Are you comfortable on both sides of the camera?
YP:In fact, I am very shy and I hate being in front of the camera! For me it is horrible, I do not know how to behave, I feel ridiculous and I’m afraid to look into the lens. But I do it for her, because I’m glad to help nonetheless ! However behind the camera I am very comfortable, it is for me like a barrier between the subject and myself. Behind the lens I can be confronted with the other without any problem, because it is like a masked ball, I can watch and take the pictures that I want when I want to.
MJ: One of Ms. Jeannie’s most favorite photographers is Robert Doisneau.
When asked about his recipe for success, he said “I put all my trust in intuition, which contributes so much more than rational thought. This is a commendable approach, because you need courage to be stupid – it’s so rare these days when there are so many intelligent people all over the place who’ve stopped looking because they’re so knowledgeable.” What are your thoughts on this as a fellow photographer? Do agree or disagree?
YP: I’m a real fan of Doisneau, I like how he took pictures of workers, he managed to capture from the 1940s to the 1980s the real world sometimes despised in historic and artistic work. (I am proud to tell you that it was her daughter who gave me my diploma in photography in 2005). In the same spirit, I suggest you look at the photographs of Willy Ronis that I really love too.
I did some pictures in this style (below), where I tried to recreate this world of the 1950s with a nostalgia for a beautiful and poetic life.
On his recipe for success I totally agree, I did not know it, I think ridicule does not kill, and I think you should always look further to reach a new thought. My Tiny trades series are an example of this : I create new trades while everyone believes that things are made in such or such way , but no, we can believe there is something else that may seem unbelievable and surreal, but can actually exist even if it’s only in our imagination.
MJ: What is one message you hope to convey through your photographs?
YP: I want to bring each person a little piece of well-being in their homes, going home after a hard day of work and just quickly look at my photography and for a millisecond to forget the worries of their life. If I can bring this little happiness I am the happiest, because I would love everyone to be at peace, and it is not easy today with everything that is happening in the world.
MJ: If you could live in any other time period in history, which would you choose and why?
YP: I would have loved to live in the 1950s, although I think that life was not easier than today, there were different problems, but I feel that life was simpler and slower. It is precisely thanks to R. Doisneau that I love this period, that I dream to live and walk in the streets of Paris with the sound of mirror salesmen who would shout in the streets: “glazier glazier!!”, By the way I have a little story to tell on this subject: when I arrived in Paris I lived in a 11m2 flat in Montmartre, sharing it with two mice :), and once a week, a knife grinder passed in the street with a bell, shouting “grinder grinder!!” it was really wonderful and there’s only in Paris that you can still see this kind of scene, so out of step with modern and electronic life, and this does a lot of good.
MJ: If you could do a photo shoot with any famous person, living or dead who would you pick and why?
YP: For me it would be Gandhi, this good and simple man managed to give India its independence without any bloodshed and in total peace. If all the Big men in the World could react like him, able to solve problems without weapons, just that of speech, heart and non-violence I think the world would be healthier.
MJ: What other artists influence your work?
YP: There are many, but most in the same area: humanist photography. There are of course as I have said above R.Doisneau, but there are also other more contemporary photographers like Raymond Depardon, Edouard Boubat, Andre Kertesz, Sebastiao Salgado, Josef Koudelka and many others, they inspired me a lot with their black and white images, always close to humans and poverty, but without prejudice to the characters that they captured, they’re just the messengers of these worlds, which are too little known to the public, and they manage to touch us and let us know that sometimes we forget these worlds, hidden behind our smartphones, while we rub shoulders every day.
MJ: If you could describe your work in three words, what would they be?
YP: Passion, dream, and sharing.
MJ: France has always been known throughout history, as an incubator for creative collaboration between writers and artists, whether it be in a simple cafe meeting or an evening salon. Do you think that is still true today? Do you have a similar support group that helps keep you inspired?
YP: I do not belong at all to a group other than the group of my friends over a glass of wine 🙂 There are probably many collectives still today, but I never never hear about them.
There is a real nostalgia of these famous groups where characters such as Louis Aragon, Picasso, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir met up for example in the Café de Flore in the district of St-Germain, you can imagine sulphurous discussions about art, society, politics, but now only the tourists go there, and the charm of begone years belongs to the past, this is also what has happened in this neighborhood where jazz was really everywhere. Now only restaurants and fashion boutiques take place alongside the sidewalks of this neighborhood where a part of France’s history was written in the postwar years until the 1970s.
MJ: Since you mentioned wine, please tell us your favorite…
YP: Without hesitation the Beaujolais, it is unfortunately not very liked by French people in general, because every year in September we celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau, when the wine is very young and not very good! but when you discover the Beaujolais region in Burgundy, there are many small producers who make an excellent wine, they are called Fleurie, St. Amour, Windmill, Julienas, actually they are all names of villages of Beaujolais, and yes there is a village called Saint Amour (Holy Love in English 🙂 )
MJ: If we were in Paris for just one night, what restaurant would recommend for dinner?
YP: Then I would advise this reader to go to one of the oldest breweries in Paris: Chartier (7 rue du Faubourg Montmartre, the 9th district), the restaurant has remained in the Art Nouveau style, it is really beautiful. Moreover, you can find legendary waiters with their legendary Parisian smile, which they have forgotten in the locker room :). Their menu offers traditional French cuisine and it’s not very expensive, but then you have to queue up a little to get a table. It is a real experience though, but I would not advise it for a lover’s evening, because you will never be quiet, between servers running around, the sounds of cooking, and the proximity of your neighbors, this may not be the most romantic evening ever. Go there though, you will not regret it.
MJ: Have you ever traveled to the U.S? If so, where did you go? If not, which state would you like to visit?
YP: Unfortunately, I’ve never been in the U.S.! However I sell a lot of my photographs in the U.S., they travel and discover the country for me :), As a result I know a little about the geography of the United States and especially about postcodes it’s funny 🙂
If there was one particular place I would like to visit, I think that it would be Arizona, with the desert, the mountains… I would feel like I am on another planet or immersed in an old western film… although I do not like westerns, but on a photographic point of view I’m sure I’d be living a daydream.
MJ: When you are not busy photographing (or modeling!), what other interests occupy your time? YP: I really have a sweet tooth so obviously something I love doing and which is always nice to my family and friends is cooking cakes and desserts! When I cook, I feel like I am taking a break, I always put in a background music of Django Reinhardt to give me rhythm .
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series, that Ms. Jeannie is orchestrating about artists, writers and musicians and their inspirations. To read other interviews in this series, simply click on the following links: