We are talking art and motherhood with Chloe Fleury, an illustrator and set and prop stylist out of San Francisco. Chloe has a young daughter named Lula and another little one on the way, but that hasn’t stopped the French artist from creating. Chloe has found a niche in creating magical sets, whimsical animals and décor out of paper.
When did you start creating?
I grew up in a very colorful home. My parents love art, my grandfather had a gallery, my grandmother was a painter and both of my parents draw very well. I have been making things (paper boxes, origami, paintings…) for as long as
I can remember. Very early, I think around the age of 5, one of my teachers told my mum that I had a talent for art and I should be taking classes. So I did, for about 10 years. I went to an art class every Wednesday.
I never tried music, which I regret. And I was never into sports. My interest was mostly in drawing. I would spend my weekends and holidays making cards to sell to the neighbors, making paper boxes, I was already obsessed with paper and textures. I don’t know how many hours my mother and I spent at the art store. I had a little studio in our garage! Then, I graduated from high school and went to ECV, a visual communication school in Aix-en-Provence,
south of France for 4 years.
What does “Art” mean to you?
Expressing myself creatively and visually. Making pretty things using my hands.
What is your medium of choice?
Paper for the last 4-5 years. I love creating little worlds, working on set decors and props. I am more and more interested in trying new techniques and incorporating new medium into my work. I just need to find the
time to experiment!
Has motherhood altered your creative process? If so, in what ways?
I have never been as inspired as when I was pregnant with Lula (and now with my second). Lula sure inspires me a lot. Regarding the process, the most remarkable change is that now I have a studio outside of our home. Lula’s bedroom was my studio, but I had to move because I needed more space and she needed her own space as well. When she is with the nanny, I have to be more organized and really focus on my work and productivity. That way, when I come home, I can focus on her. Before becoming a mum, I worked a lot at night and on the weekends. That isn’t the case anymore as I like to enjoy our family time together. We like to be outside, explore nature, etc. This also inspires me. At night, I am too exhausted and just need to relax and have some quiet time for myself.
Do you involve Lula in your process, or is it a personal experience for you?
Not really. My work involves a cutter, scissors, glue and these are dangerous tools for her. That is also one of the reasons that I have a studio now. Otherwise, I would have to make sure the door is closed all of the time. She has so much energy and likes to touch and climb on everything, so I think it’s a little too early for her to be with me in the studio. It would be very stressful for me. However, I definitely can’t wait for her to be a little older so we can work on little craft projects together. For now, she is obsessed with stickers and drawing on her desk! Although she is currently not directly involved in the creative process, she serves as inspiration in creating new products for my shop. She has a few trophy animals in her bedroom and I loved creating her birth announcement, 1st birthday invitation and party décor. It is just amazing to be a mum and rediscover the little things in life with her. The colors, the words, the animals, the sounds…everything! She amazes me every day. I aspired to be a children’s book illustrator when I was in art school and collected many books. I love reading them to Lula.
What do you do when you encounter a creative block?
I take a break! Sometimes when I start on a project, if it doesn’t work the way I want the first time, it feels like I will never make it right. That is so frustrating! I ask myself so many questions and doubt my work and talent. I’m like “Ok, I’m done, I am not good enough”. At that point, I just take a little break for a few days or work on a different project. When I come back to it, I feel much more inspired and have a fresh perspective on it.
If you could give creative mothers any piece of advice, what would that
It is hard to find the balance between work and being a mother. If making art is your passion, I would say to never give up. It took a long time for me to find my own style and have my first client. However, all of
the questions and moments of doubt are so worth it when you finally are able to live from your passion.
Photo Credits//Photo of Chloe in workspace: Maria Del Rio| Photos of Chloe and Lula in Lula’s bedroom: Sabrina Bot