Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lunch with Jean-Philippe Delhomme


Today we were graced with the company of Jean-Philippe Delhomme for lunch at the studio. Sarah and I had visited J-P's studio in Paris on one of our press checks in France a number of years ago and of course we got to know him when we featured him and his work in Issue Two of our magazine. It was a pleasure to renew the friendship and to have an opportunity to spend more time with him.

Jean-Philippe and his wife and young son moved to New York in August for the next year, maybe two and have encamped in the loft that Serge Bloch and his family were renting near Union Square. J-P's 11-year old son is attending school at Alliance Française and his wife, an art director for a French magazine, has taken a one-year leave of absence to enjoy her new life in the city.

It was interesting talking with Jean-Philippe about art and his early perceptions of illustration. HIs father was a creative director for Lancome so he was a bit familiar with the advertising world but didn't realize he could make a living as an artist. "I knew I wanted to do something in painting and drawing but was unsure how to make a living at it." he recounted. Starting out in art school J-P was influenced by the work off Savignac and other French poster designers. After school he was wise to realize that London would be a place where he might find work, and so he did.

We here in America are treated to Jean-Philippe's work on a monthly basis in GQ and now he is not only illustrating but also writing for the French GQ. In addition he has a new book out, The Cultivated Life: Artistic Literary, and Decorating Dramas ( Rizzoli 2009) and he has started a blog--Unknown Hipster--which he might make into a book at some future time. We New Yorkers have also been exposed to his work for The Mark, an upper eastside high-end hotel and condo. The fabulous slip-cased book fully illustrated can be seen through the windows of the rental office, or as they call it the Design Boutique. Designed by Pandiscio, the book is lushly illustrated in the romantic style of Jean-Philippe.

Thankfully Jean-Philippe's English is quite good as my French is non-existant. Asked how he came to speak so well, he of course had picked up some of the rudimentary language in school, but really grew his vocabulary by meeting art directors and other illustrators in London and New York. Asked what I should do facing a three day trip to Paris and not speaking the language well, even after weeks of Pimsleur's Conversational French, he said to think of it like a box, you start out with a small box of words you can recognize and hopefully put together to speak, then you build a bigger box by adding words and phrases. And then a bigger box. Of course he added that total immersion in the culture and surroundings is the real way to learn a language but that visual of the boxes is one that makes the task of learning French much easier to deal with. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself too badly.

We're pleased that he was able to take time out of his busy day to venture into Brooklyn on a rainy Thursday to share a meal. The menu: vegetable, chickpea and kielbasa ragout, side salad with individual cheesecakes and espresso for dessert--all fresh from our tiny kitchen. Jessica, you missed a great lunch! After a lovely get-together we bade adieu to Jean-Philippe as he headed back to work, an illustrator definitely hip but far from being unknown.

Pictured in the dining room: Jean-Philippe Delhomme and Sarah Munt; missing Jessica Quiñones--out sick with a cold.

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