Studio Session: Laetitia Rouget

We asked Laetitia Rouget, the collaborator behind our new line of t-shirts, to describe herself in her own words. “I’d say I’m a French artist who is passionate about colours. And bums.”

Step into the light-filed warehouse conversion that Laetitia Rouget calls home and you quickly realise these words aren’t jokey chatter, but rather a true assessment of who she is. The walls are splashed with a contrast of primary brights and soft pastels – all courtesy of her own artworks, including paintings, ceramics and upholstered chairs – strong political statements jump out from unexpected surfaces and the naked form (and all of its beautiful imperfections), is overtly celebrated.

Based in Hackney, East London with her husband Nick, Laetitia does a lot of her crafting from here. “My studio is cold, and during the winter months it’s freezing, so I like to work here,” she explains after spotting us inspecting the paint-lined shelves in her living room and brushes grouped in jars next to her kitchen sink.

The way her connection with Anthropologie began is testimony to the wonderfully spontaneous and organic way that a lot of our collaborations take shape. “I share a mutual friend with Nicole, one of your buyers. She came to my studio on a social occasion, saw my artwork and recommended that the team take a look,” Laetitia explains. This chance meeting took Laetitia’s artwork to a whole new canvas: t-shirts.

Taking a quick look at her artwork explains why Nicole felt the need to share this discovery. Laetitia’s linear paintings force you to stop and look more closely at the detail, imagine the unspoken interactions between the characters she captures, and marvel at the many, many depictions of the bums she loves so much.

Her art is appearing in our King’s Road gallery from 9th May too. “Studio sessions with Laetitia Rouget” is a replica of her working environment, equally as vibrant and thought provoking as the real space.

After taking a tour of her home studio, we sat down with Laetitia to learn more about her previous life as a fashion designer, the way melding cultures influence her work, and why, in her opinion, this generation is inspirational.

Can you tell us a little bit about your introduction to the world of art…

I came to London 10 years ago to study at Central Saint Martin’s School for my bachelor in illustration & graphic design. I absolutely loved studying in London and learned a completely different approach to art with more fantasy and eccentricity than in Paris.

Do you think your love of art was inherited?

The art gene probably comes from my grandmothers, but I am the only one who inherited it. Although my brother is an amazing writer, so maybe he did too.

Your family are in the porcelain business – did you (or do you) ever think of joining the family business?

Yes of course. I have worked for our family business in the past as a freelance designer, but I would definitely love to work on new projects. Hopefully, it will happen by the end of the year – it’s one of my goals.

Was the world of ceramics your way of forging a connection to your family’s history with porcelain?

Ceramics and plates in particular have always been something of importance in my family. I guess working with ceramics was a way for me to connect my traditional heritage with my creativity, putting my personal spin on things.

You used to work in fashion design…

I first started to work as a print designer and absolutely loved my job. I was designing prints and developing techniques and ideas for different brands on the high street. I learnt a lot in terms of production, design and selling my designs to the customer, which was amazing. Sourcing and designing was definitely my favourite part of it all.

So, what made you make the switch to full-time artist?

In my last job, I started to feel frustrated and needed more freedom. The scale of production and the amount of waste started to drive me crazy too. I felt the need to do more of my personal projects and to start concentrating on my own art. My husband has always encouraged me in that direction as well, which was definitely a big help too.

Your artist pseudonym, Shoopy Studio, is unusual. Where did the name come from?

Chou in French means cabbage. My husband thought it was funny to call me this as a nickname and I would call him it too. This soon developed into shoop and then shoopy. When I set up a dedicated Instagram account for my artwork, I was searching for a name as I already had one in my real name. Shoopy felt like a good alternative.

The chairs that you craft have sustainability and recycling at their heart – found (and often discarded) frames, cuts of material saved from landfills during your fashion design years – is this something you actively build into your way of working?

Yes, definitely. I started to create my first collection of chairs from all the samples and trims that I sourced in the last few years. It was really important for me to tell a new story with each piece and bring anecdotal life to neglected everyday objects.

Obviously, we are living in a society where we are more and more conscious about the waste and pollution we create. In my work, I always try to reduce this to the minimum – unique over extremely mass produced.

Your recently got married and your husband Nick is from South Africa. Would you say that his cultural influences have melded with your own and become part of your art?

Yes definitely. Some of my work are particularly inspired by West African textiles, mainly from times that we have been traveling together. We are both passionate about Africa, its colours and amazing energy. We currently considering a move to Cape Town, so this will definitely become a huge source of inspiration for my future work. Be prepared to see prints and even more colour!

What else inspires your art?

As well as French and African culture, I’m inspired by artists like Jean Cocteau for his poetry and art. Some of my favourite artists are Matisse, Pierre Boncompain, Hylton Nel and Yinka Ilori. And I guess, I am really inspired by our generation – the way we share information, deal with feelings, talk about sexuality, tackle taboo subjects.

My work is always in reaction to a feeling and my imagination that day, so I guess everything around me is an influence – my husband, my friends, life.

A lot of your artwork is based around the naked form, often depicted from behind. Why do you think this is?

The Bum Love lady is interesting because she is drawn from behind so you can never be sure if she is actually a lady or a man. I like the simplicity of this drawing, but as well the fact that people can imagine their own story about it. She is faceless and could be anyone.

Sometimes the subject of your art is controversial – nudity, sex and sexuality, politics – are you ever afraid of people’s reactions?

This is what I prefer in my work – I want people to have strong reactions when they see it. This is when you start having discussions, which I guess is the most interesting part of our work. I also hope that people will be amused and intrigued by my art.

When did you first hear of Anthropologie? And what were your first thoughts?

I first discovered Anthropologie in America, and I immediately fell in love with it.  I dreamed about working for this brand when I was younger, so I am extremely happy now to have the opportunity to make that dream come true.

WIN! We’re giving you the chance to add two Laetitia Rouget prints to your personal collection. Click here to enter.