Artist of The Week: Garance Vallée
This week, 24-year-old architect and illustrator, Garance Vallée, is on our radar. Based in Paris, Vallée recently completed her master’s degree in Architecture and Scenography, where she focused on creating smaller-scale concrete pieces. With clear influences from architectural masters like Le Corbursier and her European surroundings, Vallée crafts unique pieces with a hint of contemporary romance. Read below for our full interview accompanied by exclusive photos from American photographer, Keegan Keene.
So you are currently based in Paris—in what environment do you create your best work?
I grew up in my father’s painting studio [Kriki], between paints and punk music. I began to draw and create objects near him. My love of the straight line results unmistakably in his hand. My mother, who studied art history, made me work on being cultured; teaching me to have a thirst for “knowledge”, which is what I attribute my level of creativity to today. I’ve been working in a creative environment since I was a kid. I grew up between my father’s studio and my mother’s artistic literary world. They are my first sources of inspiration. I owe my open-mindedness to them. They’re the ones who shaped my artistic eye. I’ve always drawn and built little objects in my father’s studio. Now I have a studio in the center of Paris with my fiancé. The romantic atmosphere that we’ve created together is the most important for my creativity.
I grew up between my father’s studio and my mother’s artistic literary world. They are my first sources of inspiration.
How did living in NYC inﬂuence your creative process?
New York was a revelation to myself. I worked at an architecture agency called LOT-EK, with beautiful people. They pushed me to give everything I have to offer to the world. They showed me that art is definitely a lifestyle. Everything is a creation: walking, eating, talking, and even being. Even if we’re not practicing any art, the way we see things, the way we pay attention and are sensitive about everything is what define ourselves. They deeply changed my creative process. I was very rigid and wanted to control everything in my work and now I let my feelings have more of an influence on my work. I always started my process with experimentation.
Also, it was my first time in NYC, so I started to see things around, be more attentive and sensitive. Wherever I am, I can’t help but write or scribble down something really quickly when an idea comes to my mind. I also go to some places because I like their ambience, their architecture, because they inspire me… Even music or clothes are a source of inspiration. It’s a whole, an everyday lifestyle. It creates your own artist personality. In my everyday life, I’m a very romantic person and Ada, one of the lovely directors of LOT-EK, helped me to show it in my work so people can feel it too.
Both of your parents were artists—what’s the best advice they gave you?
Believe in yourself, no matter what. Keep working hard and following your feelings. And maybe the most important thing, spread the love and good vibes. Because if you’re smiling to the world, the world will smile to you.
I read that you are most interested in designing galleries, museums, and art installations—as an architect, what is the space of your dreams?
It depends of my mood! I’m a space lover. On Monday, I can dream of living in a very cozy, bright room, full of design objects, with a lot of different matters and space shapes; and on Friday, dream to be in an ancestral, minimal African hut.
What emotions do you look to invoke in someone as they step into space you have made?
I would like to invoke in someone a way of discovering the architecture with their body with their senses and not only with they eyes and the aesthetic of a place.
What would you say is the most difﬁcult medium to work with?
Painting, I think. I started to work with black and white or only colored background. My real challenge in panting is associating colors together and balancing the shape, matters and colors that I create.
What’s your favorite material to work with?
Concrete! I often consider my objects as small architecture. That’s why I love using real construction material. There is an interesting contrast between my small feminine body and this hard material to work with, heavy and stiff.
Is there a speciﬁc piece of work (writing, painting, sculpture, photo) that you would say has been vital to your growth as an artist?
Yes, maybe “The Poetics of Space” [in French: La Poétique de l’Espace]. It’s a 1958 book by Gaston Bachelard. He focuses on the method of phenomenology and how it relates to architecture. It’s interesting because his findings are based on lived experience. He focuses especially on the personal, emotional response to buildings both in life and in literary works, both in prose and in poetry. He is thus led to consider spatial types such as the attic, the cellar, drawers and the like. As a dancer, when I started my architecture studies, my whole purpose was to experiment architecture with my body.
I often consider my objects as small architecture. There is an interesting contrast between my small feminine body and this hard material to work with, heavy and stiff.
You recently got into jewelry design—what was that process like?
That was very spontaneous! For a long time, I was thinking about creating a big golden earpiece and I found the work of Juliette Laloë on Instagram and fell in love! I told her that I loved her universe and admired her work and she answered me something similar! Very quickly we met each other in Paris, where she opened a shop and the magic began. I started to draw some earrings and as a real collaboration she started to show me some prototypes ! And now three pieces are available and more to come! Can’t wait!
What advice would you give to young artists trying to juggle school/ work/art?
I often wondered if I should drop out of school because I didn’t have enough time to spend on my personal projects in order to start my career. I was afraid I would miss opportunities because I had this or that exam to take. But in the end, these studies are so useful. I am proud to be able to be an architect, to be able to build something concretely. I’m only 24 so it’s hard to give advice, haha!
I’ve given myself the means. I’m working tirelessly. My lessons and my art; I juggle everything. I’m very determined because we all have to fight in order to do what we love. I don’t want to have any regrets, so I try and completely devote myself!
What art supplies do you always carry in your bag?
A black pencil!
Images courtesy of Keegan Keene
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