Juliette Seydoux is one of the most interesting people I've met since moving to New York. I was introduced to her through leather goods designer Khoi Le (featured here) who met Juliette while studying at Parson's. Initially interested in literature, Juilette moved to New York from Paris in 2009 to study art. Now her primary method of communication is her 0.05 mm pen. When I visited Juliette's apartment it was full of drawings, sculptures, and... friends. By the end of our interview I understood why each of these elements would be meaningless without the other. Her countless drawings of friends indicated that they've become her family away from home since she moved to New York. It took time to build this supportive network of creatives, however.New York, after all, was a rough transition. Born into a traditional family with a generally sheltered upbringing, she left France in search of independence. "I got here [to New York] and I was a mess," Juliette said. She was especially shaken by the educational structure at Parsons. "At Parsons it was so free. Students would talk to their teacher with food in their mouths and in France no one usually speaks except the teacher." Although, she had difficulty adjusting to this learning environment, she grew to love it. "At Parsons [NY] you were your own master. They didn't say your art was good or bad. In France, if they said it was bad you were told you wouldn't succeed."Juilette dabbled in everything from painting to sculpture, but ultimately the pen and paper took favor. "I love details and it's hard to do that with painting. I often use painting when I have too much to say so I just throw on the color and movement. Painting is more instinctive whereas drawing is about the precision," Juliette said. The pen allows her to combine both writing and drawing. The piece above was inspired by a girl who stole her boyfriend when she was 18. "It was the first time I was jealous in my entire life," Juilette admitted. This example showcases her fantastic juxtaposition of humor and vulnerability.Juliette is also a fan of dualitys and often mixes animal characteristics with human qualities. "When it comes down to it, it's not about the wolf or the human it's about the bad part of me versus the nice and vulnerable nature I have," Juilette said. She explained her weak and shy side versus her self-motivated side. This contrast in her work is something she cannot yet define but offers her viewer relatable material.I asked Juliette what she defines as "art"? "It is funny you ask...I had a class called End of Art which touched on the notion that art is actually dead. Art is free--it no longer belongs to the artist but instead belongs to the philosophers or the viewer," Juliette responded. "It's like someone will pay a million dollars for a mountain of salt and say 'This grain of salt is really rare and I want to put it in my living room.' The buyer can decide, 'Well...this is art.'"Given Juliette's definition of art, I decided to interpret one of her drawings. In the picture above I identified a vision of shame. I saw a woman, pushing her soul away in embarrassment because of denial. My interpretation was different then Juliettes, but she told me that didn't make it wrong. Regardless of her inspiration, the meaning of this image changes based on the personal circumstances and beliefs of the viewer. Juliette explained her inspiration:
"Sophie [Juliette's friend] told me she was going to make a book of my work. I felt like the book's audience was going to read my heart and steal my soul and rip it out. There is a French expression that means 'present yourself naked' to everyone and be honest. My giant heart is a burden I am pushing but it is also a beautiful act. I guess thats how I could define art...a beautiful burden. It is really painful but it is a total relief and I don't think art is self centered. It is a generous act."
Juliette's interpretation of art explains why she sees her audience as anyone with a sensitive nature. Her work evokes a certain element of sensitivity in the midst of satirical humor. Her art also finds meaning with anyone who has a creative and interesting mind like her own.Juliette's weird collections (as she would define them) are one result of her interesting mind. She collects everything from hands to deceased mosquitos. "I love hands. I once watched an interview with Louise Bourgeois and she said 'I have two little brains in my hands.'" She also collects plane safety brochures, "I think its funny... its like saying 'This is how many times I've survived a plane!'" exclaimed Juliette. The most bizarre of all would be her infatuation with insects. "I have frames with mosquitos I find in my apartment. I do a little revenge and write the date I found them along with a note that reads something like 'Suck on this.'"Together, Juilette and I uncovered the possible roots of her fascination for insects. Her mother encouraged her to read at a young age and Juliette still enjoys poetry and literature. One of her favorite stories observes a fly hitting the window repeatedly until the inability to escape kills it. This action was poetically framed and abstractly comparable to death itself. "I remember thinking how deep it was that human death could be synonymous with the death of a stupid wolf fly," said Juliette as she glanced up at her large drawing of a fly on the wall over her couch. "Maybe I subconsciously am interested in insects because of this story. I love the precision of their wings and face yet I hate them at the same time. They are blood sucking...kind of like humans can be."Moving forward Juliette hopes to dive deeper into animated drawings. "I will change...I am a Pisces and I go every which way," she admitted. Of course she would love to support herself primarily from her art but she is still absorbing and exploring and is not yet worried about that. As Juliette explained, "Everything is building to go somewhere like small pieces of a puzzle and at some point my art will show everything I have explored."Juliette's work is already published in her book, Self Titled Book of Illustrations, which depicts her time spent in NYC thus far (available hereand many other bookstores from Paris to London). "How do you make money as an artist?" I asked her. "I have no clue..." she responded. She does believe that real artists must fight for their money and follow their own process without trying to be discovered. Yet with a mind and talent such as hers discovery doesn't seem far off, especially in New York City.