Some people just leave you in awe. Case in point: Agathe Singer, a Parisian illustrator who paints with a beautifully delicate aesthetic; Jasmyn Burke, the magnetic lead singer for Toronto-based art rock band Weaves whose distinctive vocals can be heard on the band’s recently released eponymous album; and Djuna Bel, a wardrobe stylist whose discerning eye has landed her work with the likes of Levi’s, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Zoe Kravitz. Talented, driven and totally playing by their own rules, Agathe, Jasmyn and Djuna are our current inspirations. We caught up with the three women to get the inside scoop on the source of their brilliance.
"As creators we are malleable people that soak up information and reinterpret it for art. "
TELL US WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO. My name is Agathe Singer, I’m an illustrator living in Paris. I use mainly traditional techniques such as watercolor and gouache. I love to paint flora and fauna and imaginary miniature landscapes. The majority of my work is for the French perfumer Fragonard, illustrating perfume packaging and colorful objects for everyday life: plates, bags, cushion, napkins.… I also recently collaborated with Austrian designer Arthur Arbesser on motifs for his Spring/Summer – Autumn/Winter 2016 collections. I really enjoy seeing my drawings applied to objects that people use, or clothes they wear. It’s great to think that they will take a place in someone’s house.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO ART? I always loved to draw, as any child does I guess, but I kept that interest whilst growing up, and for years the only gifts I wanted at Christmas and for my birthday were more paper and more colors! I then moved to Paris, attended art school and studied graphic design. I started working as a graphic designer, but soon realized how much I missed painting and working on my own projects. With this in mind I decided to start working from home as a freelance illustrator. It’s been four years now, and I feel very happy. I love the people I work with, I pick my projects, I feel free to create as I want.
WHAT ARTISTS DID YOU LOOK UP TO? As a kid I was absolutely fascinated by the paintings of le Douanier Rousseau. I love his mysterious, naive and dangerous universe. I had the chance to see the original paintings this year at the Musée d’Orsay. The incredible thing is that apparently Rousseau stayed in Paris his entire life, despite his very exotic topics of jungles, tropical forests full of lions, snakes charmers, etc.
WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? When I start a new project, I can spend days just thinking about the subject. I need to have an idea in my head before I start painting. I don’t sketch a lot, I just go straight for it. By not preparing my drawing too much, or not at all, I give myself a chance to be surprised by the little hazards or accidents of the painting.
TELL US ABOUT THE LAST PIECE YOU PAINTED. The last piece I painted was the first of a limited edition four part series, that I did in collaboration with a gallery that represents art for children, Les Petits Collectionneurs (Little Collectors). Paintings of gardens and trees of life, interpreted by the seasons. The first piece, “Spring”, is a newly bloomed blue tree full of birds.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW PROJECTS COMING UP? I’m currently working on a miniature landscape painting for “Imago Mundi,” an artwork collection curated by Luciano Benetto, which gathers painting from artists all around the world.
WHAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOU? I would say everyday details of life when I walk around Paris, mostly nature in the city: colors in the shop windows and florists, the Marché aux Fleurs, the beautiful Jardin des Plantes and the animals of the Ménagerie, the hidden little garden in Le Marais.
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TELL US WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO. I am Jasmyn Burke and I’m a musician who sings in a band called Weaves.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO MUSIC? I guess I started listening to music from the start. My mom always had music blaring but wasn’t a musician herself. I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old. I had seen a friend’s older brother do a cover night and it kinda just clicked in my brain that I could pick up and instrument and maybe play my own music.
WHAT ARTISTS DID YOU LOOK UP TO GROWING UP? I think it was always changing but I guess as my musical taste grew I started listening to and admiring a lot of artists. Ones that still stick out are probably Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Karen O, Julian Casablancas. A mixture of old and new when I was younger.
WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? I usually sit in our jam space alone for six or seven hours and just write. I loop guitar and vocals and figure out melodies and lyrics. When I’m writing songs they come out in groups and then I rifle through them with Morgan [Waters, Weaves guitarist] after the fact. But I let everything just flow out in the initial demos in a stream of consciousness way. In that way I think Weaves remains almost primal and raw because those initial lyrics and melodies are what end up staying.
TELL US ABOUT THE LAST SONG YOU WROTE. Hmmm… I mean I am always writing when I’m home and I have a side project called Strands that is a solo show where I use loopers and my friend and amazing artist Rosalie H. Maheux projects images on a screen behind me. I would say the last song I wrote was for that project titled “Always”. But it might become a Weaves song. Sometimes I trick my mind by telling myself I’m writing for other projects so that I feel less pressure to write a “Weaves style” song. And then sometimes those songs become things we try out in Weaves. Always is a really delicate, pure song so I’m hoping to workshop it with the boys and potentially have it on our next record.
WHAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOU? Everything! I don’t think there is any way to avoid influence. As creators we are malleable people that soak up information and reinterpret it for art. But if I were to be specific I would say travel. We are currently in Milan, Italy as we’re on tour. Meeting people from around the world and seeing different cities and cultures in soul feeding and incredibly inspiring.
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TELL US WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO. I’m Djuna Bel. I work as a wardrobe stylist for commercials, magazines and red carpet.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO WARDROBE STYLING? Years ago I was a model in New York and met a bunch of stylists. I actually didn’t even know styling was a job until I met my first stylist on set (but I was 17, there was a lot I didn’t know yet). My modeling career had started to slow down but some of the stylists I worked with knew I understood set etiquette, had taste, and would pretty much do anything for little money, so they started hiring me as an assistant. Later, I opened a vintage store with my friend Marissa Johnson, but I really missed being on set so I left our store in her hands. I still feel like vintage is a main inspiration for a lot of my work.
WHOSE STYLE DID YOU LOOK UP TO GROWING UP? I grew up in a little hippy beach town with a super tomboy mom and no cable TV, so I had almost zero reference for style. I think my style was more inspired by the idea of fantasy and creating fictional characters.
WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? I try to keep things pretty organic. I choose pieces I really love and create looks around those pieces to tell my own story instead of creating looks based on an idea or trend.
TELL US ABOUT THE LAST OUTFIT YOU STYLED. This weekend was a blast. I hosted the vintage sale A Current Affair in LA with a friend of mine, and we created looks, styled mannequins together, and played dress up with a bunch of friends. It was a totally new, fun, collaborative take on what I usually do for work. The last outfit I styled for myself was sort of inspired by Italio-disco/ ’70s glam. I’ve really been feeling very sexy cuts and sheer dark fabrics at the moment. It might just be this Indian summer. The less I can get away with wearing, the better.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW PROJECTS COMING UP? I have a fun story that just came out in Vogue Russia with my friend Soko, shot by another buddy David Mushegain. It’s super cute. I also love the Holiday Solid and Striped campaign that is coming soon that I just worked on. There are some amazing new suits, and they’re always such a joy to work with. My fiancé (Nikolai Haas, of the Haas Brothers) and I also just started working on some interior design projects, which has been really exciting and inspiring.
WHAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE YOU? My friends and family.
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