Sonia Cavallini Illustration-Papaterie is a shop filled with beautiful floral stationary, whimsical fairytale illustrations and more. Sonia was gracious enough to share her story with us. Read about the creative community in her home town of Lyon, France and what inspires her below:
What inspired you to open your shop? Was it a person or an event in your life?
I have a degree in art history but it was a little difficult to find a job in a gallery. After finishing my studies, I traveled to Australia and Asia to think about my future, and to discover new cultures and people. I used to draw since I was little (my grand father drew or spoke with me about drawing and technic) but during my studies I had no time and it was complicated to paint. In Australia, I drew a lot and I realized that was what I really wanted to do. When I came back to France, I decided to open my own stationery shop.
You create such beautiful floral patterns and fairytale scenes. How do you select the subjects for your works?
I have many sources of inspiration. I am inspired by the Russian carpets and objects (always very flowery and colorful) I saw in my childhood, my mother's family comes from Russia. I like to paint flowers and animals. I am always impressed to see the array of ideas offered by the fauna and flora.
If you take the time to look, nature is really relaxing and I tried to put this feeling in my drawings. I don't know why I like flowers and plants but yesterday my mother found a cute and shameful (in the same time) very old letter written by me for a boy and I was speaking already about flowers =) !
What is your work process like? Do you start with a sketchbook?
I have no rules to find the subjects of my works. I have just some images which come in my brain like a flash. Often, the first idea changes or grows up with the time. Research is very important in my creative process. I have a kind of database where I keep patterns, drawings that I like, and some old illustrations for children. Tapestries of the Middle Ages or old paintings inspire me and I like discovering original patterns. When I start a drawing I never do sketches and I am always looking forward to see the result.
What is your work space like?
Usually, I wake up late in the morning because I work at night. I paint in my apartment with my boyfriend (he is a 3D designer) sometimes watching movies or listening to music...I like to ask him what he thinks about my drawings!
In busy times, my apartment turns into "battlefields", there are drawings anywhere. But I like that, this is really exciting to do a lot of things in the same time. Feeling good in my apartment is very important for me. I like to be surrounded by objects that remind me past memories. I am really interested by how to keep the memory intact and I have a lot of diaries, argentic pictures or old furnitures.
I create my own hand carved stamps to decorate envelopes and I use my illustrations to do postcards. I like to use different kinds of materials because that is never the same work by this way.
What is the artistic community like in Lyon?
This is an interesting question and I never thought about that before. Lyon organises some important exhibitions and every two years there is a big event called "Biennale d'art contemporain" where you can see a lot of emergent contemporary artists. There are also underground exhibitions. This year I met à lot of interesting crafters. With the economic situation I think people are more close to original and handmade things.
Who are your favorite artists, or crafters?
There are so many fantastic and talented artists. I am very interested by the symbolic painting and Arnold Böcklin, Fernand Khnopff or Gustav Klimt are some of my favorites artists. I also like Edmund Dulac a french illustrator who worked on fairy tales. We can discover some very good illustrators on internet and this is great!
Thank you Sonia for sharing your story and your photos!