Artist of The Week: Léa Augereau
C’est lundi! This week we’re back in Paris with designer and painter, Léa Augereau. From her figurative portraiture that pulls from interior design and Italian cinema, to her ethereal clothing design, Augereau strives to include a diverse range of strong, commanding women in her work. Augereau began her career in the art world in pattern making and now has her own label, so she clearly knows a thing or two about paving her own way. We sat down with the artist to discuss her inspiration, background, and desire to mix painting and fabrics. Read on below for our full interview with Augereau, accompanied by exclusive photos from American photographer Keegan Keene.
What are you working on right now?
I’m actually working on a new project, that mixes my paintings and clothing designs. I really want to finish my clothing collection. Sometimes, it’s difficult because I need financial help, but I’m working hard on it!
How does your hometown, La Rochelle affect your work? How does being in a city like Paris impact your art differently?
My hometown inspires me a lot. There’s the sea, an island that’s 20 minutes by car; everything is really different than in Paris. You can see the horizon. I feel more connected to the real things in life. When you see nature around you, all these beauties created by the earth, you know no person could be at the level of it! I think that changes the way you create.
In Paris, everything around you has been created by humans. You can’t see anything past 10 meters; personally, that makes me feel bad, and I need to go back to my hometown or somewhere else out of the city as much as I can. However, Paris is a really beautiful city with something particular; you know that everyone who has lived there for a while has a specific kind of spleen. It’s is a very particular vibration; I can’t tell if it inspires me, but I know Paris brings me a lot of things: amazing people and experiences that impact my life, my mind, and my work.
You first stepped into the production side of the fashion industry. Can you describe the process of pattern making? What’s your first step?
When I’m working for someone else, I start with a sketch or picture. When I work for myself, sometimes I make a really quick sketch and sometimes not. I have it in my head, so I just start by putting line on paper. In pattern-making, a big part was about feeling and practice. Your eyes know when the line is good or wrong. I love it because it’s like making a sculpture around the body, almost body architecture.
You’ve weaved your painting and fashion worlds together to create blankets. In what ways did your family’s past experience with textiles influence this?
I realized the influence of my family’s past experience with textile when people started to ask me about it. “Why?” When I do something, I don’t ask to myself why, I do it because I want or need to do it. I was really inspired and impassioned by fabrics in the clothing I was designing. For me, it’s the beginning of creation, like the canvas for paintings. Also, I want to explore a different way of mixing paintings and fabrics; blankets are the first step!
Do you remember the first time someone bought a piece of your work? What did it feel like?
Yes, of course, I remember it! It was a coat.
I feel really happy to see someone happy with something I have created. It’s an indescribable feeling; it’s something that pushes you to continue and gives you so much strength. The first time someone bought a painting of mine, it was pretty similar but more unexpected! When I started to show my paintings on my Instagram account, I really didn’t know people would like it or want to buy it. I was so surprised!
How do you hope to affect or influence people with your work?
Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think I affect or influence people, but the thing I hear the most from people is that my art makes them feel happy. When they see it, there is a smile on their face most of the time. That makes me feel very happy. If I can bring a smile, that’s great. It’s more than I expected!
When I do something, I don’t ask to myself why, I do it because I want or need to do it.
I read that you’re inspired by Italian and French cinema. Which are your favorites?
Pedro Almodóvar, for sure. His movies were always my favorites. I have seen some of them more than five times! The stories, the women, all the details (there are a lots of details); the earrings for example—they are some of the most amazing pieces I’ve seen in my life. You can see something pretty similar in my paintings. I paint big earrings most of the time—it’s clearly an Almodovar inspiration!
Who are the figures in your paintings?
I think it’s a mix: people around me, expectations, strong women, and peaceful life.
What women and men inspire you?
People I love or things I love. It’s as simple as that.
What does being a successful artist mean to you?
There are different interpretations for what « successful » means in art, but I think it’s someone who inspires other people; somebody who tempts you to do something, to do your own thing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don’t be afraid to do what you want; never stop doing your thing.
Images courtesy of Keegan Keene
Stay tuned to Milk for more artists on the rise.