[UPDATE: This story was originally published on March 7.]
Sure, this city is saturated with more right-brained artist types than you can shake a stick at — specializing in every niche medium under the sun. But, when we stumbled upon the supremely unique work of paper illustrator Chloé Fleury, our minds were totally blown — her dialed-in, painstaking works are a real San Francisco treat.
To add to our obsession, we followed the French artist into her Mission-based studio to see how she does her thing — both artistically and sartorially. Packed full of vivid hues, quirky subjects, and that je ne sais quoi, her work-slash-live space is like stepping into a fashion-themed coloring book (there’s even a PS1 purse made of pastel paper!). Get ready to fall down her charming rabbit hole, right here!
Photographed by Maria del Rio
Tell us more about what you do.
"I like to transform bright and flat sheets of paper into three-dimensional illustrations and displays."
How would you describe your art?
"Colorful and fun."
Chloe stands in her studio in an Isabel Marant dress, L'artiste shirt, Shourouk necklace, and Dolce Vita boots.
We love all the colors you use — what’s the inspiration behind using so many hues?
"Colors make me happy! And I am definitely inspired by the colorful city I live in, San Francisco."
Paper illustrating is such a niche field — how did you get into it?
"I've always loved making things with my hands, I started doing origami and paper boxes when I was 10. Later, I discovered stop-motion animation, and the part I loved the most in the process of making a short movie was to create the decors and little worlds."
What’s your philosophy when it comes to the materials you use?
"I've spent a lot of time finding the paper that I like, that is not too thick or too thin, easy to fold and curve. Same goes for the tools I use and the glue. It is important for me to use materials I feel comfortable with in order to be more detailed in my work. I am very meticulous."
What’s your favorite part of your workspace?
"My ribbons and tape display and my cat! She always sits on my desk and looks at me working and sometimes plays with pieces of papers. It's nice to have company!"
How would you describe your personal style?
"Bohemian chic. I am obsessed with colors, prints, fringes, pom-poms, and embroideries. I love mixing styles. My everyday look consists of a cute and colorful top, denim pants — I'm really into flares these days — boots, and a pom-pom necklace!"
How long does it typically take you on each project?
"It really depends. For a paper lady it takes about one to two days, for a short animation it takes about a month or more."
You are originally from France, how does that influence your work?
"I'm not sure actually, people from France say my style is very American. What do you think?"
How does living in S.F. impact your aesthetic?
"I really started doing my paper art when I arrived in San Francisco. I was so inspired by the colorful architecture and other happy elements that I started making 3-D house posters
. I've always loved colors very much, even in my outfits. People in France would stare at me sometimes. In San Francisco people are so tolerant, I feel like I could wear anything and finally be myself. San Francisco made me less shy."
If you weren’t creating art — what would you be doing?
"I don't imagine myself doing something other than art. If I wasn't an illustrator, I'd be a fashion designer, which I still have hope to be one day. And if I really had
to choose a job that is not related to art, I'd say something with taking care of animals."
We seriously love all the color in your work. What is your favorite color to use?
"It is so hard to choose one! I really love all the colors and it really depends on my mood. Some days I am more blue, some I am more pink or orange. Let's just say I am really into neon colors lately — and turquoise! I want to plan a trip to Arizona or Santa Fe to get turquoise jewels."
Who are some of your favorite designers?
"I love Isabel Marant, Balmain, Sass & Bide, Shourouk, and Scotch & Soda."
Chloe looking gorgeous in a Zara top, Scotch & Soda pants, and Shourouk and Madewell necklaces.
Who do you admire in the art world?
"Kat MacLeod is one of my favorites, she is an australian illustrator who mixes drawings and pieces of papers, fabrics, and sequins. And as a big fan of embroidery, I really admire Maranon's work — she does jewelry mostly but also some artwork pieces. I also like Maricor/Maricar
What are your favorite shops or restaurants near your studio?
for my papers! And I love Voyager
, and Mira Mira
for clothes. The Curiosity Shoppe for design objects — so sad they just closed. I love Four Barrel
for my coffee meetings. I love the sushi at Tokyo Go-Go, and I love Locanda
, Tartine Bakery
, and Lolo
— I think the latter is my favorite for food as well as the very colorful and creative interior design!"
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
"To trust in myself, be more confident, and daring!"
Chloe taking her creamsicle-colored bike out for a spin in Club Monaco pants, a Madewell sweater, necklace from Portland, and Andre boots.
We love this amazing Proenza Schouler paper bag — what was the inspiration behind it?
"My love for fashion. Since I discovered the Proenza Schouler bags, I became obsessed with them. The choice of colors is fantastic! I wish my paper one would transform into a real one some day. I'd take it in any color."
We notice many of your dolls are style-inspired. Where do you look to find inspiration for each one you make?
"I look at magazines, blogs, TV shows, street style...and style icons like Alexa Chung."
Hop to it! A few of her infamous colored bunnies litter the wall.
What kind of music do you listen to while you design?
"I listen to Phoenix, Zero 7, Lykke Li, The Lumineers, Beach House, Phantogram, and Metric. I am getting ready for Coachella!"
Swinging and strumming! Chloe poses in her backyard with a paper guitar in a Zara jacket, Forever 21 shirt, Bullhead pants, and Madwell heels.
How close is your design aesthetic to your personal style?
"It is very close!"
Even her supplies are colorful! A close-up view of the artist's tools!
What advice would you give young artists trying to make it?
"Spend time finding your own style and working on building a portfolio with personal projects! Becoming an illustrator is not easy, it really takes time to be recognized. You have to be patient and never loose faith."
What’s next for you?
"I'd really love to work on a story for a book project, set design for fashion photoshoots or music videos, and products for my shop like my paper bunny kit
To shop Chloe's paper goods, head over here!