Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman
French Illustrator Ciou and her equally talented beau Malojo, are our first international interviewees. These are also our first emailed interviews, so the answers are short and sweet. We met the couple at their opening at the Cotton Candy Machine a few months ago. I was surprised to get the chance to talk with Ciou for way longer than your typical gallery opening meet and greet chatter. Ciou and I are big fans of vinyl toys, and we’ve kept in touch, emailing about things like bronies. Her intricate illustrations are like a glimpse at a playful, yet frightening acid trip in a kawaii underworld. Trying to count the brush strokes in just a small inch of one of her paintings is like counting the stars, or a handful of fine sand. Good luck with that. Enjoy our exchange.
SHANON WELTMAN: Who are your favorite artists?
CIOU: My favorite artists come from different periods and countries. I love Japanese artists like Hokusai, Murakami, Aya Kakeda, Junko Mizuno, Hayao Miyazaki. I love French artists: Gustave Doré, JJ Grandville, George Barbier Malojo. I love the American artists like Mark Ryden, Norman Saunders, Tara McPherson, Elizabeth McGrath, Camille Rose Garcia, Scott Campbell, Winsor McCay. I love Frida Khalo, Jerome Bosch, Femke Hiemstra, too, and so much more.
SW: What are your favorite materials to work with? What do you use to get those tiny fine lines?
C: My favorite materials are acrylic, ink, old papers. I love mixed media, due to the fact that I can choose between all my favorites ones. Now I try to work with the Japanese paintings Acryla, mixed between acrylic and gouache, those are very special with amazing colors. Also I use the Rotring pens for the black lines, it ’s great to have small details and the ink is very dark, more than others.
SW: How long does it take you to complete a painting?
C: It could be one or two months for a painting, one week for a drawing on paper. It’s a lot of work but I am very patient and I love details. It needs to be perfect and intense too, so I can appreciate it. It’s like meditation, after 10 hours of working on the same artwork.
SW: What inspires the style and imagery of your artwork? (colors, patterns, big eyes, sharp teeth, mutant animals, etc.)
C: My inspiration come from nature, vintage toys, animals, museums, patterns and my dreams.
SW: What’s it like being in a relationship with another artist, and what’s it like collaborating sometimes?
C: Being in a relationship with another artist is so great. We understand each other in our private life and also in art. We can share everything . I love to share this with Malojo. We inspired each other too, and progress together. We have one studio together with two separate rooms, so it’s like two little planet connected with our love, a bridge between two art’s sensibilities. Collaborating is normal for us, and also a great challenge every time.
SW: What advice would you give other artists about how to get your work shown in galleries internationally?
C: I just have to say: Don’t be afraid to travel and try cause you have nothing to lose. Your art and personality are the most important and don’t forget the simple joy of creation. If you are sincere and true, the public will see it, so the art galleries will follow you too.
SW: What is your favorite collectible toy series? (my little pony, tokidoki, etc.)
C: I am a toy collector, I love them. My favorite are Kaiju toys, Vinyl toys, squeaky toys, Tin toys, Edward Mobley Vintage toys, My Little Pony toys, Disney toys specially Bambi, Blythe…