17 / 04 / 2014

Pénélope Bagieu

Pénélope Bagieu

This month we’ll be having a quick chat with one of our most loyal customers and also one of the funniest! Penelope Bagieu is an illustrator who also happens to be our next-door neighbor in Paris. She is known for her blog Ma vie est tout à fait fascinante (lit: My life is so interesting) as well as a series of graphic novels. She has a very particular style of drawing and a great sense of humour.

Penelope very kindly agreed to be interviewed to tell us why she likes Sessùn so much. A big thanks to Penelope for giving up some of her precious time and for being such a loyal customer!

Pénélope's website:

Hello Penelope! Could you introduce yourself to our readers please ?

My name is Penelope, I’m 32 and I live in Paris where I was born and also where I grew up (yes, I know, wildly adventurous !). I write graphic novels and I’m also an illustrator, mostly for magazines.

Tell us about the key stages in your career?

I went to an art school in Paris called L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratfis, but nobody calls it that, so let’s just say I went to « Arts Déco ». There I specialised in animation. As part of my course, I went to London for a bit on an Erasmus program (where I did everything but work, as is often the case with Erasmus). When I came back I began illustrating, as I was desperate not to have to eat at the college canteen morning, noon and night. One thing led to another and I was commissioned to do a comic strip in a weekly magazine. It was there I created my character Josephine. This led to a first graphic novel, then a second, then another..and then a film. After that I carried on doing graphic novels. I also have my own blog where I jot down whatever springs to mind (mostly things that aren’t very important !).

How would you describe your creative universe?

It’s a blend of all the different sides to my personality that make me who I am. There’s the tomboy who used to enjoy role-playing games and listening to heavy metal, the girl who loves gorgeous boots and dancing in bars late at night and the little old lady who watches documentaries about animals and has the books on her bookshelves sorted by colour…..a bit like many other women, I think. If I had to choose one word to describe my worked, I’d say “brimming”.

What’s you ‘relationship’ with Sessùn?

I have a very candid relationship with Sessùn. Sessùn clothes are the kind of clothes I would design if designing clothes was simple as drawing.

Every time I go into one of their boutiques I wonder if a little elf hasn’t read my mind because I always find the exact dress / cardigan / shirt that I’ve been looking for.

There is something so original about the detail, the cut and the motifs, yet all the Sessùn pieces I own (and I’m not going to say how many as that would be embarrassing) have a very strong identity. When you put different items together they always look great whether they come from the same collection, different collections or are years apart. There is always just the right amount of colour and motifs that make their clothes girly without being over the top.

The first Sessùn piece I bought was a gorgeous long black winter coat. It was really well cut and quite sporty and I used to wear it about ten years ago to go snowboarding (ok, that’s a whole other story). I think back then Sessùn was a kind of a street-wear brand. But maybe I just made that up. In any case, Sessùn and I go back a long way!

Pénélope Bagieu en total look Sessùn

In your blog ‘Ma Vie est tout à fait fascinante’ you write about your everyday life. How much of it is true and how much of it is made up?

Oh, none of it is made up. I keep all the good stories for my graphic novels!

Out of all the things you do (illustrator, blogger, DJ, graphic novel writer), do you have a preference?

I think I’d be relatively unhappy if I didn’t have hundreds of different things on the go at the same time. However, what I really love doing is writing graphic novels. I know it might sound a bit pathetic but it really is the best job in the world.

Did you always want to write graphic novels. Did you read many?

Not at all! I think I read my first ever “Tintin” at the age of 14 (and I found it boring). I wasn’t into graphic novels at all. I loved cartoons. I wanted to grow up to be Tex Avery. My favourite cartoons when I was a kid were Attacker You!, Jem and the Holograms and Knights of the Zodiac. Saying that, once I got into graphic novels, I couldn’t stop buying them. I can still talk about them for hours on end with other friends of mine who read them. I’m always giving them as presents and I’ve got so many at home that I don’t know where to put them all. I must be making up for lost time!

What’s your average day like? Can you describe your work studio?

I tend to drag myself out of bed, after pressing the snooze button at least ten times. Then I catch sight of myself in the mirror and scream – it’s a pretty awful sight before my first cup of coffee. I’ll drink two cups of coffee and then if I’m in training (at the moment I’m training for the Paris marathon) I’ll go for a run. (Yes, I know, I have no idea why I put myself through it either). Then I’ll go to my studio and start the day’s work. I normally manage to sneak out at lunchtime to have lunch with one of my girl friends. Otherwise, I spend most of my day in front of Photoshop (not very glamorous for an artist I know, sorry to break the myth).

In the evenings, it depends. Either I’ll go out for a drink with friends or go to the cinema or watch a series on TV, just like everyone else. When I have people over for dinner, I never risk cooking for them, because they are my friends! Twice a week I play the drums. Either I’ll have a lesson, which I’ve been doing for the past few years, or I’ll rehearse with my band. We lock ourselves away in the studio and play really loud music – I’m usually deaf for the next 24 hours but it’s my way of letting off steam.

My studio looks like a cemetery – it’s full of empty mugs (some are mouldy) and post-it notes. And bang in the middle is my computer and next to it a pile of graphic novels that I haven’t got round to reading yet.

What did you want to do when you were a child?

I wanted to be a florist until I found out that florists don’t actually make flowers (a huge disappointment!). Then I wanted to be queen of America until I found out that America doesn’t have a monarchy (another huge disappointment). Then, according to my mother, I said that when I grew up I wanted to go outside onto the street and set up a table to sell my drawings. I’m not that far off.

One last question, what are you working on at the moment?

I working on two different projects, no three in fact.

I’m working on a project about football with several other talented illustrators which should be out in the spring (can you believe I even watched football DVDs for research purposes – that’s dedication for you!). I’m also working with Johann Sfar on the second volume of ‘Stars of the Stars”. They’ll be even more dancing, more space ships, more girl fights and more robots who want to wipe out planet earth. I’m also working on another graphic novel, all on my own like a big girl. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for ages , but I’m not going to say any more as I deeply superstitious!