Meeting with the genius illustrator, Marc-Antoine Coulon

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For Marc-Antoine Coulon, becoming an illustrator was a childhood dream. Recognizable by his glamorous style and his precise line, he knows better than anyone how to capture a look, an attitude, to sublimate it and put it down on paper. With brushstrokes, he skilfully alternates black lines – thick or shaded – and a mixture of colors, revealing the fragility that emanates from each personality, especially in the eyes… Shockingly accurate, his magnificent watercolors instantly plunge us into his world. Through his sketches, this brush virtuoso reveals his very elegant perception of the world of fashion, perfectly reflecting the spirit, style and chic of Parisiennes. Following in the footsteps of his idol René Gruau, Marc-Antoine Coulon is restoring fashion illustration to its former glory, with a pure line, sophisticated tones and an obvious breath of modernity as his signature. Today, in partnership with the luxury ink and stationery brand Jacques Herbin, he is launching his nude color, which he has always used as a base for his faces... Meet this genius artist who tells us about this latest collaboration .


How was your passion for illustration born?

Marc-Antoine Coulon: I feel like I was born with it! My earliest childhood memories are all related to drawing. It is rather, moreover, a passion for the image more generally. I think I became an artist because I couldn't find the images I dreamed of in real life.


Is the Nude color, which you use for the faces in your illustrations, your creation?


M-AC: Yes, it's a mixture that I use as a base for all skin tones. I patiently created it for several years in small bottles, because my limited technical knowledge did not allow me to make it on a larger scale. Jacques Herbin inks suggested that I produce it in large quantities and market it worldwide.


This color of which you had the manufacturing secret is now on sale at Jacques Herbin. You thus enter into posterity! Are you comfortable sharing your magic potion with other watercolorists?

M-AC: There was a real shortage on the ink market. It's easier to find pure, well-defined colors. As for sharing, it is rather a delightful idea. I can't even wait to see how other artists will be able to appropriate it; it has already started this summer in Japan (where the ink was launched in preview), with very interesting proposals. It's not the tool that makes the artist, but the way to use it. Each artist is unique in his research, as his fingerprints are unique.

How do you go about making your drawings? Do you work on photo bases?

M-AC: it depends on the project or the order; I can work from photo or live. These are two different experiences but each one involves an intense intimacy with my model at the time of the realization. Live, this intimate experience is all the stronger because it is reciprocal: I can only render on paper what the model gives me. It is a collective and disturbing work. In our hectic lives, we lose the habit of stopping, resting, looking into each other's eyes for a long time to do something beautiful. For a long time I was not comfortable when I had to draw in public, precisely because of all this shared intimacy. Now I have mastered this aspect. It's magic to manage to make your model forget that we are being watched.


One (or more) icon that you never tire of sketching?

M-AC: I thinkInes de la Fressange is the woman I have most often depicted. I am unconditional of her graphic beauty, so deliciously perfumed and so lively… She is followed very closely by Catherine Deneuve and Mina!


What's the most unique project you've worked on?


M-AC: Fashion Weeks because you have to react very quickly in a very limited time. I have to submit about thirty drawings in three days. The Madame Figaro gives me great freedom to choose the outfits that I illustrate in a closed list of fashion shows, which is both exhilarating but also quite destabilizing. These are a bit like my Olympic Games!

Nude by Marc Antoine Coulon ink has been available since September 4 at Jacques Herbin.

To be discovered very soon on Paris Select, all the secrets of Marc-Antoine Coulon's latest book... For lovers of Paris and other fans of the illustrator, it is already on sale in bookstores! 

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