The Penthouse Interview
Pettites Luxures is an anonymous erotic artist bringing sexual subtlety to the masses through his sensual, simplistic line drawings. We spoke to the mystery man about how he went from being a commercial graphic designer to being an full-time erotic artist with 1.3 million Instagram followers.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in Reims, a city in the east of France (where Champagne is made). I moved to Paris at 19 to study, but now I live in an old house in the countryside, about 30 miles from Paris. This is also where my studio is. I need to be calm and quiet to create, and it’s a good break from all the excitement of the art shows in the U.S., the book signings and the busy meetings in Paris.
How would you describe your art style?
My art is erotic, of course, minimalist, humorous, and also, I hope, poetic. That’s the drawing, but I try not to limit Petites Luxures to drawing only. I try to make sure all of my experiments are driven by this same romantic, erotic, humorous, poetic spirit.
How did you develop Petites Luxures?
All butts are different, but all are beautiful.
Initially I was, and still am, a graphic designer. I never considered graphic design as art, though. Petites Luxures was my first step into the art world. I started it back in 2014 in addition to my full-time job in art direction. At first it was just for fun, but when I found the online drawing community, I knew I wanted to build something strong within it. I knew I wanted to push Petites Luxures in a very artistic way.
What’s your favorite thing to draw?
I would say a butt, because it’s an important part in my drawings and because it’s very simple though very subtle to draw. Only three curves and you have a full volume in front of you. You slightly change one of these curves, and you change the whole orientation, the volume, the feeling of the body. All butts are different, but all are beautiful. You can never draw the same butt twice. I can draw a thousand butts and never get bored of it.
What materials do you use?
Mainly ink and paper. I used to be a very digital guy, using Photoshop every day for my work, but for Petites Luxures I needed to feel the drawing. For me, using a graphic tablet to make the final drawing would be cheating. I use a lot of pencils, pens, thin markers, fountain pens, India ink, brushes, and acrylic paint. I know I would be way more productive with a tablet, but I need my drawing to be an object I can hold in my hands, not just a file on my hard drive. The stroke, texture, and the imperfect curves are really important for me. My drawings would look terrible if made them with perfect vector lines in Illustrator! I also use my light table a lot to remake the same drawing several times from the first sketch until I find the right one. I also use a thesaurus when I need to find a good caption!
What inspires Petites Luxures to make art?
Well, a lot of things, but basically everything that is not erotic at first. A big part of my creative process is to find a way to eroticize something that is not erotic. Only representing something erotic would be very boring for me to do, and a lot of technically better artists would do it way better than me. I’m always writing down small things of my everyday life. It can be anything: a song, a place, something I ate, something I heard in the street. When I’m sitting at my desk, I read all these notes and try to find how to turn these into small funny erotic scenes.
Dozens of my drawings were removed by Instagram after people reported them.
Do you ever face censorship on social media? Yes. Dozens of my drawings were removed by Instagram after people reported them. That’s why I don’t use any hashtags now, so the people who come to my page know what they are searching for. When I decided to take a year off to run this project full-time, Instagram even disabled my whole account. I had the scare of my life as I’d been running the account for three years and had more than 500,000 followers.
But I appealed the decision, and happily, I recovered my account few hours later. I’m still afraid of censorship. Even more today because I do this for a living. I know that after the heated discussion about censorship of the artists Delacroix and Courbet, Facebook and Instagram are more permissive with handmade artworks like paintings and drawings. That is also one of the main reasons I try to build a strong work relationship in real life with art galleries, books, collaborations with brands, to make Petites Luxures live outside Instagram, too.
Tell us about your recent mini-show in Paris and the objects and artwork you had on display.
It was at the Woods Gallery, near Montmartre, which is a cool gallery run by a friend I met in art school a few years ago. He works with artists and talented craftspeople to create limited editions of cool objects. They also sell vintage designer furniture, and the artists customize some pieces of the collection. For this exhibition, I will work on customizing some chairs from the ’50s, and we will also produce a set of lino prints and screen prints.
Tell us about any upcoming Petites Luxures projects you have that you’re excited about.
This year, I have several cool upcoming projects! I’m currently working on a collaboration with a great French fashion brand that will be launched in a few months. My first book [Petites Luxures: Intimate Stories] has now been translated into English, Italian, Spanish and Flemish, and will soon be out in quite a lot of new countries, which is very exciting.
And I’m working with my publisher on my next book, which won’t be a sequel of the first one, but rather, something totally different. I’ve also got a few events, fairs, conventions and TV shows on the horizon, too.