FRENCH FRIDAY: Hélène Druvert & “Paris Up, Up and Away”
Take a night flight in the Parisian skies alongside the Eiffel Tower , and enjoy the stunning sights. From bridges over the Seine to Notre Dame, from the Opéra to Paris’ famous department stores, Paris Up Up and Away (Paris s’envole, translated by Jill Phythian) is Hélène Druvert’s début picturebook and is a paean to the Ville Lumière, its stunning architecture and the beauty and elegance you find in its every corner. Druvert uses lasercut techniques to create wonderful Parisian tableaux which are brimful of intricate details. The limited palette of black, white and blue/grey heightens the ornate papercuts and the result is quite striking. Paris Up Up and Away is a delicate introduction to Parisian sights and monuments for children, and a must for fans of paper art in general and lasercuts in particular.
I was delighted when Hélène Druvert agreed to answer a few questions about Paris Up Up, and Away and her work in general.
A Q & A
with Hélène Druvert
Paris Up, Up and Away is your first children’s picturebook. Could you tell us about more about your background?
I have worked as a freelance textile designer for the last ten years. I design home textiles, children’s wear etc. But in recent years I have discovered papercutting and I have gradually started to refocus on illustration.
(Hélène’s work for famous French children’s wear brand Jacadi)
What made you decide to create a book which focuses on Paris, and on the Eiffer Tower in particular?
When I discovered the art of papercutting, I spontaneously began to create illustrations of Paris, probably because I lived there and it offered me a wealth of inspiration when it came to drawing. Therefore the theme of this first book more or less imposed itself, as I already had a lot of stories to tell about the city.
Paris is renown for its superb and particularly detailed architecture with intricate adornments: the Eiffer Tower of course, but also the cupolas, the bridges etc. Was working in this format therefore quite tricky?
It wasn’t too difficult because I know the city so well and I have had a lot of experience drawing it. I love the lasercut technique because it allows me to simplify my drawings and focus on the more significant and adorned details of the architecture.
Did the format influence which landmarks are included in the book?
Yes, for the page which features the Opéra. The whole building did not fit in the landscape format of the page and I therefore decided to only include a small portion of its roof instead.
Are there any more picturebooks as part of your forthcoming projects?
Yes, Peau d’âne (Donkeyskin), a very popular fairy tale in France, which comes out in November in France and in which I used the same cutting techniques as in Paris Up Up and Away. Goodbye Paris, hello dark forest, castles and magic!
I also have a pop-up book about the queens and princesses who have made their mark on history, using lasercuts, which comes out this month. Finally I also have an adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera for children, which comes as a Book & CD set and this is being released both in English and French this month also.
Paris Up, Up and Away is out now and is published by Thames & Hudson.
Source: review copy from publisher