Despite being one of nearly 700,000 people, knowing Petites Luxures feels like you’re being let in on a secret. Erotic drawings that are tasteful, witty, and perfectly provocative – it’s hard to look away. The artist, who until today has remained anonymous, thoroughly captures the intimacy and playfulness of sexuality.
While in Paris, Pia traveled 25 minutes outside of the city to meet Simon, the man behind the drawings, at the early 1900s house and workspace he shares with his wife and two daughters.
Not only is Simon’s work inspiring and, ahem, stimulating (and potentially NSFW – you’ve been warned!), he is also fundamentally kind, welcoming, and finally ready to put a face to his work.
Tell me about Petites Luxures – how long have you been doing it and what was the catalyst that ignited the concept?
I started this series in late 2014. I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember, but in the years before I started Petites Luxures, my style was very different. And then one day in November, I was sick in bed and started doing more radical drawings, much simpler, in a style I thought was pretty well-suited to eroticism and digital media.
I started posting my drawings on my personal Instagram account, but then I decided my friends and family hadn’t necessarily asked to see such explicit images. So then I created this account, and with a few well-chosen hashtags, I started to see some success.
What is your professional / artistic background? What were you doing before Petites Luxures, and is this your full time gig?
Petites Luxures is definitely not my main job, far from it. In “real life” I’m an Art Director for an ad agency. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and wanted to make that my career. I was drawn to architecture at first, but ended up deciding to move toward animation. In the process, I discovered graphic design, a field I liked right away, and I’ve made that my career for many years. I do all kinds of art which is very important to me. I do graphic design and drawing, obviously, but I also play music and enjoy photography. Whatever the process, if something comes out of it, it must be a good thing.
Was keeping your identity a secret a conscious priority when you began, or did it just kind of happen that way? What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of being anonymous?
Being anonymous is part of my process. There’s a lot that goes unsaid in my drawings to allow the spectator to project themselves into the scene and make the image their own. Knowing who did the drawing can give you preconceived ideas, even subconsciously, which might affect the way someone looks at the piece. But now that the series is becoming more popular, I’ve felt the need to show myself a bit more, so people know it’s the work of a real person and not just an abstract style that belongs to nobody. I’ve encountered quite a few people who tried to pretend they were me, so I want to reveal myself more to avoid that.
Back to the actual drawings – where do you get your inspiration? Is there ever a shortage?
My inspiration comes from everywhere: a song, a smell, a word, a totally quotidian activity, a joke. My whole process involves making normal things erotic, that’s what’s fun to me, and that’s where I try to get creative. If you start with something that’s already erotic, it loses meaning. That’s also why I force myself to never use a visual reference when I’m working on my drawings. I like to let my influences digest a little bit and see how my brain spits them back out in an unconscious way, but I want my creative process to be totally natural, spontaneous and direct. Who cares if the drawing is anatomically incorrect, as long as it’s sincere, that’s all I care about.
It seems like it would be really fun material to draw – is it as fun as it seems?
Yes, of course, and I hope it will keep being fun for a long time! In the past two and a half years, my work has evolved quite a bit, technically and conceptually, so as long as I’m not bored, I’ll keep doing it. But as soon as I’m not having fun, or if I’m having to do them on command or out of obligation, I know I’ll lose interest. But it’s up to me to keep reinventing myself to make sure that never happens.
Can you tell me about your workspace? What are the most important aspects of it to you?
I just finished building my workspace, which is also for my wife, who works on her blog there. It’s important to have a space that fits you and where you have everything you need. Something practical, spacious, bright, and inspiring.
For me, it’s important to live in this old house far away from the city. I need the agitation of the city almost every day, but I really find myself in peaceful moments with my family. Those two extremes are necessary for me to feel balanced, I think.
You’re also a bit of a writer – your illustrations are usually accompanied by a witty caption – which idea comes first, the caption or the image?
I don’t claim to be a writer, but I do think words have a lot of erotic potential. My drawings don’t really come to life without words. It’s often the relationship between the words and the image that make it interesting. Inspiration can come from either place, sometimes the idea is more conceptual and comes from the words, but sometimes it’s more visual and the words come to me later.
What is your wife’s perception of your work? What about your daughters?
My wife is pretty happy to see this project take off, even though it takes up a lot of my time. She’s very involved in the project. There’s nothing autobiographical about it, of course, but I include lots of little nods to her just for fun. She’s also my main advisor.
My daughters see me working on the project, but I never show them my drawings, other than a few very softcore pieces we have displayed in the house. They’re still very young.
I would imagine producing work like this kind of allows you to develop a sort of braveness. Is this accurate? What else have you gained through Petite Luxures?
I don’t know if I can say I’ve become brave…let’s just say the unexpected success of my drawings has allowed me to feel more confident, and to feel more legitimate as an artist. I’m just happy I’ve found some success without having to change anything about my original thought process.
This project has also led to some wonderful “real life” opportunities with a lot of interesting people – artists, stylists, editors, gallery owners… which will culminate in some amazing projects in coming months. Until recently, I hadn’t really allotted enough time to those kinds of projects, but I’ve been trying to organize my professional and personal life so I can make more room for this project and finally make something happen out of all these interesting encounters.