« Ligne Noire » : the line of the French genius

Website : https://www.lignenoire-art.com/

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

Instagram account : https://www.instagram.com/lignenoire.art/

Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/lignenoire.art/

Email : contact@lignenoire-art.com

Telephone : +33 6-83-85-24-69

Behind “Ligne Noire” we find Matthieu. He lives in Paris. He started this illustrator activity in 2020 alongside his work as a hydraulic engineer. He creates works around Parisian architecture in black and white. These works are sold mainly in the postcard format in already around twenty Parisian shops (like bookstores for example). In life, his passions are sport (football, tennis, table tennis), board games, music, cinema and art in general (drawing, painting, etc…).

OJL : Hello Matt
Matt : Hello.

OJL : Four quick questions before getting to the heart of the matter.
As you live in Paris, can you tell us what your favourite café is there ? And what do you like to take there ?
Matt : I often go to “Valmy” located at 145 quai de Valmy. Because it is a 5-minute walk from my house, along the Saint-Martin canal. Beyond the pleasure of having a little hot lemon, a long decaf or a Coke-zero, I like the place which is very peaceful (unlike my street which is very noisy even at night) and this café brings together many artists who come to write, talk about cinema or play chess. Everything I like (smile).

OJL : And what is your favourite park or place ?
Matt : In addition to the canal where I run from time to time, I like to go to the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s a little far from my apartment (20 minutes on my electric scooter – my main means of getting around Paris) but I have very good memories where I spent the afternoon playing chess with passers-by who became relationships. The park is very beautiful. It’s a breath of fresh air in Paris. A place covered in greenery and flowers. And there is its famous electric boat fountain.

OJL : Next, what was the last book you read? And the last song you listened to ?
Matt :_About the book: “Unmerited Favor” by Joseph Prince.
_About the song: “His name is Jesus” by Jeremy Riddle (Live in the Prayer Room).

OJL : Finally, do you have a quote and/or proverb that you like ?
Matt : “Guard your heart above all else, for from it come the springs of life” Proverbs 4v23 (Bible). I like this verse because we live in a fast-food generation that wants everything now. Who pushes the limits of happiness by always seeking to be happy more quickly. The world of consumption no longer has limits today (look at the internet) and the risk of consuming too much is to become more and more detached from our person and our true self… We lose ourselves and we give away our heart everywhere only to find it in pieces years later.

OJL : Let’s talk a little about you now. How could you introduce yourself ?
Matt : I am a young man of 30, originally from the South of France (Avignon) and who has always been passionate about creation. I can be quite discreet in groups but I always have ideas bouncing around in my head and a desire to put them on paper and do something with them. A little over a year ago, I gave up my job as an engineer after only 3 years of work, to set out on my own and devote myself to my creative passions : drawing, writing scenarios ( comics, short films), compose music and create board games. Many creations are still in the shadows but I am proud to have launched “Ligne Noire” and to see the beautiful journey that takes me to work today with around twenty Parisian boutiques. I cannot talk about myself without also saying that I place great importance on my faith. I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus with all my heart, I believe that he died on the cross for love of us and to save everyone who believes in Him.

OJL : Who are the professionals who shaped you ? Who struck you down ? In a few names and why.
Matt : There are several:
_I think of Christopher Nolan, for his numerous masterpieces of the 7th art (Interstellar, Memento…) and his intelligent scenarios.
_In the same vein, I really like Pixar for the depth of interpretation of their films which are both funny, moving and very rich in the message they send (Vice-Versa, Là-Haut…).
_In music, I like listening to the collective “Cieux Ouverts” with Samuel Olivier. Their singing and sound mixing are of high quality and inspire me on a daily basis.
_I am also a big fan of Vianney.
_In comics I like the line of Sylvain Vallée who has very rich lines to bring out the expressions and emotions of his characters. We never feel indifferent in front of his boards.
_I like listening to the audio podcasts of Liz Wright and Eric Gilmour on YouTube, or the messages from Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel in California. It greatly enriches my faith and roots it in something living and practical, far from the theoretical.

OJL : How did you choose your pseudonym?
Matt : I hesitated a little because this name already existed for couture, a brand of memory jewellery and many other things (a range of comics, a novel, etc.). But “Ligne Noire” came to mind quite quickly because my drawings are simply an accumulation of black lines. For the anecdote, I asked myself one day if I couldn’t do funny statistics (yes I like mathematics and statistics because I did some studies called « mathematics preparation ») with the number of black lines present on each of my drawings. But too difficult and impossible to count… There are so many (laughs).

OJL : Let’s talk a little about your work now. What are you creating ?
Matt : I hand draw black & white architectural illustrations which I then market, mainly in the form of postcards, in physical stores and on the internet (via Etsy). For the moment my drawings are centered on Paris. Because the French capital inspires me a lot and the postcard market is important there. I am also currently developing derivative products based on these same drawings : tote bags, mugs, posters, key rings, etc…

OJL : How did it all start for you ?
Matt : In 2018, I embarked on a drawing of Notre-Dame to offer to my family during our traditional Christmas party. I had recently moved to Paris and I had the idea of giving them a personalized gift from the capital in the form of a postcard. The drawing took longer than I expected but the result was better than I expected. Faced with their enthusiasm, I began to dream of doing others for a more commercial purpose. What was originally just a gift idea gradually transformed into a dream of reaching a wider audience than just my family.

OJL : Where do you find your inspiration ?
Matt : My parents often told me that I drew everything that moved when I was little. It was undoubtedly a way for me to express the emotions that I felt in this perpetual discovery of life that opened up to me day by day. Everything ended up on paper. The years passed and I sadly put away the pencil to concentrate on my engineering studies. But Paris knew how to dust off my creativity and give me back my taste for art.

OJL : How can you define your style ?
Matt : My style is both classic and fragile. In fact, many of my “black lines”… are not straight. When in reality they should be (laughs). For what ? Because I want to convey an imperfect/clumsy charm amid the coldness of imposing and rigorous buildings. I also spend a lot of time adding as many small details as possible so that the whole drawing printed in a small format like A6 (postcard) has this impression of delicacy and finesse which, I think, adds to the charm of the illustration. Finally, to compensate for the austerity of my black and white monuments, I wanted to add Tom, a little man in a black beret who is hidden in all my drawings. You can have fun finding him, he who brings a little life and fun to my illustrations.

OJL : Good idea about “Where’s Tom?”. And what techniques do you use ?
Matt : I draw on A3 drawing paper so I can add as much details as possible. Currently, each drawing is very long and takes me around twenty hours of work because I have three layers to do: the first in grey pencil, then a second in markers with Indian ink (I use watercolour pens). Indian ink from the Faber-Castell brand). Then I erase the rough traces of the grey pencil. And my problem is that using an eraser erases the intensity of the Indian ink from the second layer. So I have to make a third layer with these same markers to bring the drawing to life. But this time with several thicknesses (from 0.1 mm to more than 1 mm) in order to add volume.

OJL : Can we place you a personalized order ?
Matt : Absolutely. My recent news is busier than a few years ago because I now have an associate who commissions new drawings from me and we would like to launch new galleries in new cities. But in the past I have drawn on commission for friends (a wedding of a good friend in particular) and I am completely open to discussion for new commissions (as long as it remains in my style).

OJL : Can we subscribe to your newsletter ? Because social networks are a bit saturated…
Matt : Yes you can send me your email. On the other hand, I am not very active in newsletters: I have to send 2/3 emails per year maximum when new derivative products are released on Etsy (or big news). I’m updating my Instagram account (and Facebook which are linked) a little more.

OJL : Do you have an anecdote about the creation of one of your products? Or one of your sales ?
Matt : I have a lot over the years (laughs). Life AND business are full of unexpected events and therefore anecdotes. The first one that comes to mind dates back 3 years when I started. I had met my first shopkeeper on the “Île de la Cité”, an elderly but very kind and approachable gentleman. I offered him my 5 postcards that I had finished in 5 months (Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre and Montmartre) in the hope that he would buy some for me and he had advised me to draw 7 other monuments to complete a gallery of 12 drawings before taking any. I took my courage in both hands to hold on to his vision and 7 months later I was back in his store. He was still there but seemed less keen on buying me some. He told me that he was going to contact his brother with whom he managed his business. I left empty-handed and 2 weeks later the whole of France was in lockdown. I had to wait several months before returning to the store one last time only to realize with sadness that it was closed. Definitely. The old man had probably gone bankrupt and I realized with sadness that I had never bothered to thank him for all his advice. Even worse. I didn’t even remember his name anymore. So I would like to pay tribute to him with these few lines. It’s also thanks to him that I am where I am today.

OJL : The Divine will know how to convey the message to him. Finally our last question. You definitely have friends who are doing amazing things ! If you want to promote them a little, now is the time !
Matt : In recent years I’ve been investing more in fun creations and writing and I don’t go on Instagram enough to find inspiration from other artists. So I don’t have a ton of contacts… But I still think of two people:
_ Julien Seguinot: I talk a lot with him. He lives in Lyon and also sells “Black and White” designs. He loves architecture like me and has a style a little similar to mine but he uses a graphics tablet: https://www.instagram.com/julienseguinot_illustration
_ Marine Michel: a recent friend who has a completely different style with very bright watercolours and a very rich colour scheme. She is very talented: https://www.instagram.com/soulshaft_m_

OJL : Bravo for what you do. May Our Lady protects you.
Matt : God bless you.

Alpha Centauri