Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Annabel Perrigueur. Annabel is a visual artist, using different materials such as recycled coffee capsules, feathers, metals, and even Swarovski crystals to create stunning 3D effects.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
French native and longtime Parisian, I have been living in Philadelphia (PA) since 2014. My passion for Art is a long story: I still have a great love for drawing. As a child, I was ‘sketching’ fashion models all the time, so much that my close circle and my Art teachers thought that I would embrace an artistic career as a fashion designer. However, my teen’s pragmatism led me to attend a business school instead.
I worked in Finance & Insurance services for more than 18 years but never forgot my passion. I continued to strengthen my skills and techniques by taking evening classes at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where I had the opportunity to discover sculpture as a new discipline. Working volumes and shapes in 3D seemed to me a revelation because it permitted me to free my mind and give art projects life! And today, providing a new dimension to my painting by using various materials is the central thread of my work!
Then, I moved to the US with my family. Leaving a comfortable position in my company and losing my references, this became a time to reinvent myself and embrace new opportunities! So, slowly but surely, I got one foot in the stirrup by joining an Art & Craft Organization as a student, then becoming the instructor the following year was when I started to create again!
In the meantime, missing the customer relationship, I accepted a job in my sphere of competence but part-time allowing me to develop my personal art projects. And then, I had the great opportunity to do my first solo exhibition in Beverly Hills (CA) in Feb. 2019. This was the significant triggering element: shortly after my Californian journey, I offered my resignation to devote all my time to Art!
This was the beginning of a great new adventure! I am grateful to have taken part in numerous events such as silent Art auctions, exhibitions in museums, virtual exhibitions, and still get the pleasure to customize many unique pieces for my clients, as well! Because I consider that ‘the noblest art is that of making others happy!’
2. How did it feel to start fresh in a new place while pursuing your true passion?
As I said earlier, my new set-up in the US gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself and to reconnect definitively with my passion! However, when I moved to the US, my first ambition was to meet people and discover the hosting city. In the meantime, I really wanted to share my culture like gastronomy, another one of my passions. So, I have been quickly involved in various communities and I started to implement and support educational programs about healthy food in schools. And then, I created French culinary experiences in conducting wine tastings and culinary workshops.
It seems important to remember that exchanging should be a win-win operation: ‘Expect nothing from others if you don’t have anything to offer to them!’ That was my vision when I arrived in the United States!
3. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
I usually fuel my inspiration from immersive travels: colors, culture diversities, and landscapes nurture my creativity!
As an urban woman, I also need time to time to feel the bustle of the inner cities like in Paris or NYC, for strolling through the streets (I’m a big fan of mural art) for walking through galleries (to discover emerging artists) and museums (my favorite ones are Musée d’Orsay in Paris for its representations of the impressionist movement and Moma in NYC). I need to feel connected with the latest trends and news in the Art World, including Fashion and Entertainment. Inventiveness, eccentricity, and sometimes a ‘bit of folie’ from Artists and fashion designers inspire me for creating!
I want to enjoy the best things and embrace life to the fullest!
4. On those moments or days when you feel uninspired, what do you do to get the juices flowing?
While we can not travel and meet with family relatives and friends in person as we would like, we definitely need to turn to basic pillars, and immediate family is one of these solid values. So I am trying to spend quality time with my daughters as much as possible! My family brings me such good vibes and so much energy to go forward!
I also discipline myself to do a lot of sports, such as cardio workouts and hiking, which stimulate both body and mind. That helps me stay creative!
5. You’ve said “Shapes, Forms, and Feminism” are what drive you. How has that evolved in the last 5 years? (Specifically in regards to feminism with so many things coming to fruition, the #metoo movement, a female vice president, etc.)
Indeed, I believe being a Feminist in the soul. There is so much discrimination and violence against women since the dawn of time! So, of course, I support the emergence of these movements like #metoo which brings to light amazing female stories from all origins, who have been oppressed, sexually harassed, or assaulted. They are victims and should be recognized as such! Aggressors should be brought to justice in every case. Recognizing their status of victim is the first step for the reconstruction and for the trust to be re-established.
I support regularly various associations helping women emancipation. My last one is the Ba&sh Charity campaign ‘I am every woman’ to celebrate the women as heroines every day. The fashion brand has created a T-shirt whose profits from its sales will be donated to Care’s covid-19 relief efforts for women around the world.
Being in the middle of the Women’s History month, I recently wrote an article about Tory Burch in the French Quarter Magazine where I am a recent contributor. I wanted to tell the impressive story of this woman from Pennsylvania who built an empire in less than ten years starting at the corner of her kitchen table. Today, through her foundation, she is helping women who want to create their business. She is an inspiring model that we should continue promoting to change mentalities! We can also start believing that times are really changing since the United States of America brought power to the first woman of color as Vice President!
6. What medium are you currently loving?
Upcycling Art is my predilection field!
I really like customizing and crafting with aluminum from recycled coffee caps because it is a flexible material that I can almost make into any shape I want! Nevertheless, I also like to experiment with new materials to create new effects and new textures. Lastly, I integrated feathers and jewels into my newest painting. Materials that used, still require precision along with great care for details like an artisan guild. So, very often I have the feeling to perform the role of a stone-setter or ‘les petites mains’ literally translated from the French as ‘the little hands’ in Haute-couture designs, which was my childhood dream!
7. What prompted you to start creating art with texture and recycled materials? For example, those gorgeous LOVE pieces made with recycled coffee caps!
I had always thought about working with coffee capsules. At a time when global warming is a crucial issue for our planet, using recycled material for creating original art pieces seemed to me an ingenious, eco-responsible action!
I first looked at other artists, their work, and most importantly if people were using coffee caps on their artwork. I wanted my art to stand out and be original. Additionally, I didn’t want to find myself stuck in a process of making art that didn’t make me happy, after all, art is my passion so I wanted to have fun with it! Coffee caps are often used for the creation of jewelry or for abstract art but it is not often used for the style of art I make where different materials are associated with one another on a canvas. So, I decided to take the first step and create my first painting using coffee caps. I wanted to make a painting with the iconic star, Marylin Monroe, using the coffee caps to create visual effects and add volume to different parts of the painting which finally created: Pop Art Marylin. I later had the opportunity to present it at an art competition where I won two prizes: the jury and public vote.
That’s when I first realized that maybe I did have a future in Art! While I’m probably most known for my LOVE paintings using capsules, I also enjoy experimenting with new materials and working with different textures to create something really unique and never seen before. However, I live in Philadelphia and the LOVE sculpture is an iconic symbol of the Brotherly Love city. Therefore, it became obvious to me to represent this beautiful city that welcomed me, through my LOVE paintings.
8. Last year you participated in Philly Loves Bowie, the fourth annual celebration of David Bowie and his connection to Philadelphia. Your piece, which we are obsessed with, incorporated pieces of recycled coffee capsules. How did you get involved with the event? What does David Bowie mean to you? And how did you decide what to create?
I submitted my artwork to the Open Call ‘We Can Be Heroes’ by the National Liberty Museum of Philadelphia for the 2020 annual event ‘Philly Loves Bowie Week.’ I was immediately seduced by this project because this was an opportunity for me to sublimate David Bowie, this timeless Pop Icon with his multiple facets. This artist’s universe never ceased to intrigue me and I grew up with his songs such as ‘Blue Jeans’ or ‘China Girls.’ So that was an adequate way to pay tribute to Bowie!
In addition, the title ‘Philly Loves Bowie’ has quickly inspired me: combining the LOVE symbol and emblematic sculpture of Philadelphia with the red flash, making reference to his Starman album, appeared to me as an obvious choice! And it looked like the same for many people because my artwork has been used many times to illustrate this Philadelphian event!
9. What advice do you have for artists trying to make a living?
I will say whatever your age, your gender, or your social environment, you never give up on your dreams and you keep moving forward! Even if the ART world is starting to become more popular thanks to social media, it remains less accessible especially if you do not come directly from this segment. In addition, women are still poorly represented (only 15% of women are represented in galleries and museums).
It is all about being at the right place at the right time! That was my case, I am fortunate to have met two amazing women from The National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia who believed in me and offered me the opportunity to express myself twice on two different topics: the first one for the ‘Philly Loves Bowie Week’ and the second one about Freedom.
Anyway, don’t shy away from visiting the galleries, listening to Art open calls, following the advice from artists, curators, and art experts and undertaking specific training if it inspires you!
Talent and perseverance will be your best friends!
10. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?
Many women around the world inspire me but I will say Malala Yousafzai. I am particularly admirative of those women and people in general who shake up archaïc systems and fight against oppression in their country, often risking their lives to improve fundamental rights!
And this is the case for this young Pakistani woman who became the Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2014 for advocating for girls’ rights and education while facing threats of the Taliban, who tried to kill her. She’s a true inspiration for little girls not only in Pakistan but all over the world.
More recently, I also think about the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, civil rights, and liberties. She worked a lot to change conservative attitudes and mentalities in society. I think she is going to be sadly missed by many Americans!
Just for fun…
My favorite portrait muse is: Michelle Obama’s portrait by the artist Amy Sherald
When creating I like to listen to: Jazz music
One thing I love about Paris: Enjoying a brunch or going shopping into the iconic Parisian arcades (my favorite is the gallery Vivienne built in 1823)
I feel most confident when I’m wearing: I like wearing what I call ‘the casual chic’ or the Parisian outfit: a tailored suit jacket with a pair of jeans, along with trendy accessories.
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