Interview with Florent Manelli
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Florent Manelli, I’m a french illustrator based in Paris and I’m 28.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Perpignan, a little city in the south of France
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in Art?
I left Paris in 2013 to do an internship in Montreal. I settled into a big ﬂatsharing where I met Elena, who became a friend. She encouraged me to express myself through drawing. I felt free to start all over again in this city where I didn’t know anyone. I started drawing a lot, I continued, my style evolved over the months and the energy this city gave me, I brought it back in my suitcases to France.
How would you describe your creative process?
I’m an internet addict and can spend a long time scrolling pages and pages of faces/colours/landscapes/collages, doing inspiration files, etc. I like to draw when I feel good, it allows me to throw away my ideas, my emotions, what I feel on a piece of paper.
Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?
I already heard someone telling that my portraits looked very « Parisian » (closed faces, hollow cheeks, sulky pout…). Maybe I don’t feel it directly but Paris could have a little influence on my work!
What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Paris?
Paris is a big and a small city and at the same time, it has a very active arts scene. In Paris and in France in general, we like to admire old artists, old architecture, old movies… we have a special relationship with the past, which is essential because the past can inspire the present, but sometimes I find it too oppressive. Living in Paris can be amazing (food, museums, concerts, architecture, fashion, History…) but daily life is sometimes complicated (stressful, expensive, full of people…) and Parisians are not famous for their « joie de vivre » ;-)
The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Paris?
We have, in my opinion, a good cultural policy in Paris intended especially for the youngest and the people in break with the places of culture. It’s a good thing, I am convinced that design, art, music or architecture can give different perspectives and open people to the world. Culture and arts are in Paris DNA, it’s clearly a way of life here. Culture and creation are everywhere.
Do you think it is also the responsibility of the designer/creative to improve the quality of peoples lives in their city?
Creatives can help people to live better in their city, of course ! It’s crazy to see how people love to walk and sit around murals, how they love to experience and admire modern installations… design and art allows you to appropriate your city and rediscover it.
Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particular excited about?
I’m working very hard on a book of portraits of LGBT+ people who changed the word.
What is the one thing you can’t live without in Paris?
Café ! I love coffee but mostly Café and their terrace. It’s very French but in Paris it’s like a ritual.
If you could add or change something about Paris, what would that be?
The weather and the cleanness of the streets.
Describe the perfect day for you in Paris.
I drink a coffee in Le Marais around 9h30-10h on Sunday when the neighbourhood is still asleep. I go to the market and buy some fresh food. Then I go to the Centre Pompidou or le Palais de Tokyo (even if it’s not for their exhibitions just for their bookstores !), sketching some inspiring pieces of art and walking around the city. I love walking in Paris.
If you could choose any artist/creative from Paris to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
I already collaborate with les Jeanclode for a mural but I would love to work with anyone who could put me outside the box and try new stuff!
What do you do to switch off?
I watch series or movies, I drink beers with my friends, I listen to some good music or I relax at home with essential oils and yoga. I’m a very stressful person so I really need some moments just for me.
Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Paris evoke a personal smell to you?
In summer it’s the hot tar and in winter hot chestnuts.
What is your favourite time of the day?
Morning (around 9h) when I feel that everything is possible today.
If you weren’t living in Paris and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?
Probably San Francisco or any little village close to the sea.
paris by florent manelli
A selection of places in Paris - recommended by illustrator Florent Manelli. See all of Florent's favourite places here