« Esprit ACJ » : linocuts, portraits and training

Website : www.acj-art.fr

Etsy shop : https://www.etsy.com/fr/shop/espritacj

Instagram account : https://www.instagram.com/esprit.acj/

Facebook account : https://www.facebook.com/acj.gravure

Email : contact@acj-art.fr

Behind “Esprit ACJ” we find Adélie. She lives in La Garde in the Var [France]. She practices linocutting. In life, her passions are mainly drawing, painting and the arts in general. But also History and heritage, fantasy literature and the fantastic universes.

OJL : Hello Adélie
Adélie : Hello.

OJL : Four quick questions before getting to the heart of the matter.
As you live in La Garde, can you tell us what your favourite café is there ? And what do you like to take there ?
Adélie : I will unfortunately disappoint you, because I have absolutely no favourite café, neither in La Garde, nor in Toulon. And I’ve never had one anywhere I’ve lived before (laughs) ! This might sound weird, but going to a coffee shop is really not one of my habits. On the other hand, at home I drink a lot of tea. And I love taking the time to drink one at 4 p.m. to accompany the children’s snack. It’s my little ritual.

OJL : And what is your favourite park or place ?

Adélie : Towards our home, between La Garde and Le Pradet, there is now the “Parc du Plan” which is an incredible place. It is very large, and there are very open spaces where you feel a real feeling of freedom. I could walk there for hours and never get tired…

OJL : Next, what was the last book you read ? And the last song you listened to ?
Adélie :_Regarding to the book: At the moment, I am reading “Winning the War” by Jean-Philipe Jaworski. This one, ever since people told me about it, I had to get started !
_Regarding to the song: my playlists are quite eclectic… There’s a bit of everything and anything (laughs). At the moment, for example, I listen to a lot of “a cappella” singing. My favourite song at the moment is “Dobbin’s Flowery Vale”, sung by the Finnish ensemble Rajaton.

OJL : Finally, do you have a quote and/or proverb that you like ?
Adélie : “Everything has an end. Except the banana which has two”… Something to think about (laughs).

OJL : Let’s talk a little about you now. How could you introduce yourself ?
Adélie : My name is Adélie, I am 33 years old, I have a husband and two children. I have been a graphic designer in video games (studio and freelance), an educator in a specialized institute and today an independent engraver and portrait artist. In particular, I practice linocutting, a hand printing technique which consists of engraving a block of linoleum and then making a print on paper using specialized ink and a press. In another register, I also create watercolour portraits to order.

OJL : Who are the artists who shaped you ? Who struck you down ?
Adélie : I have many very diverse influences… But regarding linocutting, I draw most of my inspiration from engravers of all periods. Dürer in particular, but also Gustave Doré, or Alphonse Mucha; and of course William Morris… For which I have a deep fascination for his work, whether in illustration, ornamentation, typography, or even literature !

OJL : How did you choose your pseudonym ?
Adélie : Like for many creator, it was a very thorny question… I have already had the opportunity to use pseudonyms in the past, but when I decided to launch myself as an independent artist, I found that they no longer corresponded to who I was today… I finally opted for my initials: A.C.J, even if in fact, I refer to myself simply by using my first name: Adélie.
And “Esprit”, because my productions, like my tastes, are very diverse. Very few can inspires me immediately. And I have a bit of a tendency to go off in all directions without anyone understanding the overall coherence in my production. However, whatever its subject, there is in each of my creations a little something of myself… And that’s it ! the ACJ Spirit (wink).

OJL : Let’s talk a little about your work now. What are you creating ?
Adélie : I make original prints, that is to say prints from engraved linoleum blocks. I have always loved drawing and illustrating, but today it is the linocut technique that allows me to bring an idea or a project to life in concrete terms.
I explored different subjects, all very different (marine, botanical).
In particular, I started a series of Patron Saints. On the one hand because above all I like drawing characters. And on the other hand because I like the sacred dimension of these representations.
I also really like exploring themes like tales, heroes and medieval and fantasy worlds. Even if in my opinion I am still too shy in my production.
I also do portraits: http://www.acj-art.fr/index.html
And I offer training in linocutting: http://www.acj-art.fr/ateliers.html

OJL : How can you define your style ?
Adélie : Some of my works are a mixture of medieval, neo-Gothic and art deco inspiration. Otherwise, linocut has its own style. I work almost exclusively in monochrome, and the technique requires reflection around pattern and contrasts that I find interesting to exploit.

OJL : What techniques do you use ?
Adélie : Linocutting is a hand printing technique that is also called relief printing, or saving size.
The principle is similar to making a large stamp and consists of engraving a block of linoleum using gouges. Linoleum is a smooth, easy-to-engrave material originally designed as a floor covering. It can be natural or synthetic.
Once the design is engraved in the block, it is inked with a special ink using a roller. Unengraved areas will receive the ink, and dug areas will remain blank. We can then make the print, namely the image taken from the block. A sheet of paper is affixed to the inked block and after rubbing, an inverted image of the engraving is obtained.
Multiple prints can be made from a single engraved block, but because linocut is a hand printing technique, all will have slight differences, flaws and variations that will make each print a unique artwork.

OJL : Can we place you a personalized order ?
Adélie : Yes, it’s entirely possible. However, given the technical constraints, the deadlines are rather long. You have to call me really in advance !
About the portraits. They are made in watercolour from photographs. And for them I work exclusively to order.

OJL : Do you have an anecdote about the creation of one of your products ? Or one of your sales ?
Adélie : The engraving that I sell the most is a small engraving of a sea turtle, which I originally engraved for my 7 year old son. I drew and engraved it in one evening, just because he asked me, and it was the starting point for a series of engravings of marine animals which has since had great success with the public.
The truth is that I am not particularly passionate about turtles, nor about marine animals in general (laughs).

OJL : Funny indeed. Last question. You definitely have friends who are doing amazing things ! If you want to promote them a little, now is the time !
Adélie : Because you have to open your horizons a little, I’m going to share things that have nothing to do with engraving, or even with drawing.
A very good friend of mine shares her love of skateboarding and surfskating on Instagram. She reminds me that you can combine a full-time job, two children and the daily life of a busy mother AND SKATEBOARDING. Yes, yes, it’s compatible (laughs).
We stay in sport, with this real crush: I recently started practicing HEMA (European Historical Martial Arts) and I am a very fan of Valentina, a fantastic Kazakh swordswoman who shares her daily life on Instagram.

OJL : Bravo for what you do. May Our Lady protects you.
Adélie : Thank you.

Alpha Centauri