"you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars."

A conversation with Parisian illustrator, Ariane Butto.

Inspired by her travels and the role of bold colours and nature, Ariane Butto talks about her latest collection and artistic thinking with Madeleine, our Creative Visuals Coordinator.

A few weeks ago Madeleine was lucky enough to sit down and to talk to the ray of sunshine that is Parisian iIllustrator, Ariane Butto. 

The setting for our chat couldn’t be more perfect; surrounded by the green of her parent’s back garden and her majestic dog Kiko, lounging happily in the sun behind her, it easy to see the inspiration she takes from her environment at home.. 

We’ve been working together for nearly five years, ever since we first met for a coffee at Merci in Paris. Her designs always make you smile with her signature bright colours and her love for a little bit of gold, and her latest collection is no different. A celestial feast, made with bright blue and lashings of gold foil.

After I controlled myself from cooing over Kiko the dog, the conversations turn to her latest designs and what inspired them. “It was around Christmas time and all the stores in Paris were filled with decorations and gold – I was about to go skiing so I was in the mood to create something wintery. I had fallen in love with this blue colour, I just find it precious … really strong and beautiful. As you know, usually I'm not really inspired by winter, I am more about summers colours. But I had this vision for the blue. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, let's do something really poetic about the sky, because for me, Christmas is all about the night. The night comes so early in the day in winter. There is just something really comfy and a little bit serious and poetic about the night sky. So, I thought of the moon, and I just thought he would be a perfect match for winter.”

It’s gorgeous hearing Ariane talk about her process, the level of story-telling, as if she’s trying to pull us into her world. I ask her if she’s aware of the narrative feel of her designs. “Oh yes” she smiles “I want each painting to tell a story.  I don't want it to be fully decorated. Most of the time there is a character, (often a woman) there’s always a person or animal, because I want to tell the story about meetings in nature. That's the part that I love the most.”

One glimpse of the walls around her desk and it’s clear how much travel, particularly South Asia, plays apart in her creativity. Covered in Polaroids and colourful souvenirs, it transports you to somewhere new. Her eye’s light us as she talks about a trip to South Asia ten years ago that ignited her love for colour,.“It was just the sun, piles of fruit, the animals…. the monkeys! And the colour of the sea. It was so rich…so full.”

She goes on to explain “another thing that really did inspire me during this time was  in Thai I tradition they have little papers, fake bank notes, it's really beautiful. And the tradition is that when someone dies, they want to send this person off with some money, riches… cars, so people burn these fake notes and it's supposed to go to the beyond for the dead. These paper notes were all over the markets, full of colours and gold. I put some in my little sketchbook and I kept all of them.”

The more we talk, the clearer her passion for colour is. Working with Archivist and the joy of letterpress means colours are used quite differently to Ariane’s usual design approach. With this print process designs are separated by single colours and printed one at a time; the more colours the more layers to print which adds time and of course cost. We generally work to a maximum of five colours in a design and for our artists we like to think that it sets a fun challenge for them with their creative thinking… As I bring this up Ariane winces and chuckles. “Ah yes - it’s not easy keeping my colour pallet small! But when I look at the digital matchboxes and then ones that we print with letterpress, there is no comparison. I'm just in love with the irregularities letterpress gives you, all the little mistakes. That's what I love about painting, I love to keep all those little details, it’s what makes something special.”

As we draw our conversation to a close we start making plans for when we can meet again and she promises to cook dinner in her flat in Paris. “I don't have this relationship with anyone else I'm working with, it feels like family. When we see each other we have a drink and we can talk about everything for hours. I remember when I went to the Archivist home and I walked the dog with William. It’s business…but its more than that”. 

And with that we say our farewells and I take a minute to reflect on the collections and designs from Ariane over the years. From tigers to toucans, golden elephants and starry nights Ariane’s work with Archivist is beyond beautiful. Explore her matches, cards and glass bottles, not to mention her artistic direction for our soap range.


Ariane Butto's Latest Collection