Saturday, 11 April 2009

Interview - Meet Laurent - from etsy shop Lambert

and felines Tipu and Fefe!

I first noticed Laurent when I came across his painting of a pair of cows, in his etsy shop Lambert, which I immediately loved.

I had seen photos of these 3D Japanese style papier mache models before - but never a painting of one. I was intrigued. He told me that they are Japanese and every prefecture has their own variation of these little models. (A collector's dream, my heart quickened!)

Not long after this discovery Laurent then introduced small chicken figurines to his shop in the same style.

Wearing Japanese cloth tied on with bright cords each chicken looks just so adorable! Who could stop at one?

Someone who creates such charismatic characters must have a love of animals?
I asked Laurent if he would answer a few questions for me and the people who take time to stop by here. He kindly obliged.

You have two cats - tell me a bit about them?

My first cat is a siamese mix and just turned 5 years old recently, her name is Tipu (tee-poo), a traditional Indian name.

Tipu - with the most amazing ice blue eyes!

I adopted her from a shelter in Brooklyn, she was very skinny and barely weaned at the time, we fed her a milk formula with an eye dropper for the first week. Like all rescued animals, with a lot of love and the proper care, Tipu grew into a beautiful healthy cat.
There is a wonderful place in New York City called New York Siamese Cat Rescue that offers mostly (but not only) Siamese cats for adoption.

My second cat is Fefe.

Fefe looking very regal

Fefe (fay-fay) was a gift from a friend of mine who got him to keep company to a cat she already had but the original cat rejected the kitten and became dangerously aggressive towards him. My friend decided not to keep the kitten and I gladly offered to take him!
Both my cats get along very well.

Tell me about the rabbit you found on the street corner?

I have two rabbit stories.

I had a rabbit growing up. I got him while I visited a farm in France when I was 6 years old and I remember begging the farmer not to kill this one rabbit and let me have him!
I named him Popov, he was huge! We kept him uncaged in our house and he used to play with our collie dog in the backyard. They were best friends and he came on vacation with us in the summers. He lived to old age.

Laurent at 6 with sizely Popov

Two summers ago, a friend of mine and I found an abandoned rabbit in a cardboard box in front of her apartment building wall, as if it were garbage, in Manhattan.... shocking! Which was very bizarre!
The poor rabbit had barely any hair left, only on his paws and was very skinny. A visit to the vet informed us he was healthy but extremely malnourished and dehydrated.
He did grow back his hair and put on some weight and "blossomed" in a beautiful brown rabbit. My friend had named 'her' Marigold. She was convinced the rabbit was a she. My friend then decided to send Marigold to live with some people she knew Upstate NY in a better, greener environment than what she could have provided in a NYC apartment.

What is your full time job? and how did your etsy shop come about?

I work in the movie business and decided to take a year off last year to get my life back a bit, slow down and focus on painting, drawing which I really never had time to do.
I was (and still am) a buyer on Esty, so I was very familiar with the site and I thought I would open a shop and see what happens.
When my tempera paintings started to sell, it motivated me to keep going.
There is something very gratifying in having people appreciate what you create.

Some of Laurent's paintings. They are adorned with wool threads and recycled materials.

What is tempera?

Tempera or "egg tempera" is a type of paint made by mixing powered pigments with egg yolks, it is the oldest paint known and was used in ancient Egypt, Greece, the Renaissance …
The colors are rich and luminous and perfect for the kind of paintings I like to do.

Where does your inspiration come from for all your paintings and chicken figurines?

I love Japanese folk culture and folk art in general. I like the use of bold colors, simple shapes and the childlike quality of not adhering completely to figurative reality. There is something endearing about folk art and very accessible.
I obviously love animals and they are my main painting subjects.
After a while, I became curious to go from a flat surface to having a 3D representation of something I could paint.
I came up with the idea for the chicken figurines thinking of a cross between those old prizes you could win at carnivals and fairs and the folksy souvenirs that were very popular in 50s-60s Japan.

Just so adorable! and I do believe that chickens like their own company?
and if you would like to try decorating one yourself ?

Do you have a painting/figurine 'ritual'? if so - what is it?

Not at all, I just need good natural light and to have a precise idea of what I want to do.
I never improvise!

What has and hasn't worked for you?

Drying the chickens in the oven was my biggest mistake!
That’s how I burned my first batch of chickens …

Good quality brushes do make a big difference.

What is your favourite item in your etsy shop and why?

I have no favorites. I like all of the items in my shop now because what I do is completely my taste.
Everything in my shop could find a place in my home but it would be bad for business, wouldn’t it?
I did have a whale painting that I really liked and thought about keeping for myself for a while and then it sold!

What ideas / works do you have planned for the future?

I will go back to my “real job” soon, so I will have to see how much time I will have left for painting before making any big plans.

What do you collect? and why?

I am not a collector at all, my mind is not wired this way :)

How many of your dreams have you achieved?

This is a tough question.
I never had a master plan. I am making up goals as I am going along.
I feel like I am getting closer to where I am supposed to be and I have learned to recognize and seize opportunities as they present themselves. I think my dreams are taking shape along the way.
I am pretty happy of where I am at the moment.

And any dreams you would like to share?

I really want a beach house.
I love the ocean, I love the summer, I have this perfect vision of a cozy little cottage filled with friends, family and pets close to a beautiful beach.

Anything you would like to add?

I think you are doing a wonderful job for animal causes on and off Etsy. So the first quote that comes to my mind is naturally animal related.

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."
Immanuel Kant

Thank you Laurent!
It was a pleasure to get to know a little about you, your amazing work and two very beautiful cats Fefe and Tipu!
and don't forget - if you live in USA, in the New York area and are looking to give a safe and loving home to a siamese cat then please consider The New York City Siamese Rescue as your first port of call.
Thank you


  1. I love this, beautiful rescue stories/animal pics and lovely, unique artwork, love the chickens and whale especially! ;0)

  2. Always a pleasure reading your interviews, informative, interesting and heart warming. Can't wait for the next installment. xoxo

  3. Thank you for a wonderful interview. Laurent is a "neighbor" of mine (we both live in NYC)and I was glad to read about the NY Siamese Cat Rescue.

  4. Another amazing interview. Laurent makes beautiful artwork - I especially love the chickens!

    Many thanks to him for rescuing Tipu and Fefe - they are both gorgeous cats - and for helping Marigold.

  5. thank you Michele - I know you love chickens!!
    and aren't they just so cute.

    Thanks Pey, glad you enjoyed it!

    That's amazing to know Lynn, small world eh?

    Thank you Katie. The chickens really are so beautiful.

  6. laurent is on my favorites lists. i love his paintings!

  7. Thank you Maureen - I agree with you there!

    Apol, he is on my favourites too - nice to know a bit more about him!

  8. Great interview.
    Love the mixed media waves in the whale painting.

    Beautiful cats =^x^=

  9. Thank you Ama - Laurent's cats are indeed very handsome! They will be keeping an eye on all the chickens no doubt!


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