The heart of art

By on September 28, 2010
For many, there is nothing more cherished than memories.  As such, whether they consist of pictures from a recent family trip or from one’s own childhood, photo albums are some of the most valued items in many households – and to Francoise Lions, these albums should be celebrated.

The French artist has concentrated her talents in making photo albums as unique and magical as the memories tucked within, by painting vibrant designs and patterns onto canvas album covers.  Her work has been widely heralded, and were recently put on display at the Oakwood residences in Tokyo Midtown.

1. What motivated you to start designing photo albums?

My ART FOR THE SPIRIT album series was created to respond to a critical need for a photo album that would harmoniously combine functionality with original design while further inspiring people to treasure their memories in a very thoughtful way.

In 2007, a Japanese friend of mine found out that none of photo albums available on the market – from ‘cute’ characters on the cover to plain functional – had anything particularly striking and she decided to commission the first album in my ART FOR THE SPIRIT album series. My friend was already a collector of my ART FOR THE SPIRIT paintings on canvas series and she trusted that I could make a special album for her.  This friend’s request inspired me to develop a whole series of unique hand-painted motifs on photo album cover that is reasonably priced (retail price ¥9,500, tax included). Since then, my ART FOR THE SPIRIT album series has been met with tremendous customer satisfaction.

2. What are subjects or topics that inspire your designs?

Colors and shapes of my ART FOR THE SPIRIT paintings on canvas and on album covers translate the energy and inspiration I mainly get from my interactions with people and surroundings.  As I tremendously enjoy sharing with people, I regularly hold live painting sessions outdoors on the terrace of vibrant cafes and restaurants in Tokyo, and throughout the years the audience have been showing an increasing interest in how art is shaped.  I hope live outdoor painting and displaying my artwork collections in lively surroundings contributes to demystify the concept of art being confined to specific spaces, and that it constitues a nice reminder that art is an integral and accessible part of life.

3. How do you design your art?

Genuine craftsmanship is what makes this series so special as each design on a photo album cover is a unique hand-painted creation that is accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity and presented in a stylish black gift box.  Each album includes ten pages (241mm x 234mm) with a transparent self-adhesive sheet on both sides of each page.  On the inside of the album, two small metal tubes with screw tops hold the album together.

Aiming at creating vibrant, functional, and durable products, I use for my designs on photo album covers a wide range of carefully selected high-quality acrylic paints and the finest protective varnish from the American art material brand Liquitex.  The material used for the cover is a thin piece of canvas covering a lightweight cardboard. With a large brush, I first apply on the album cover three layers of paints to create a special texture that gives a special ‘touch-and-feel’ to the album.  When the texture is dry, I hand-paint an original motif and then let the cover ‘cure’ for three days. When the ‘curing’ phase is completed, I apply a layer of protective varnish that notably ensures that the colors will not fade away.

4. Families are the subject of most photo albums.
How does your art complement that topic?
Dedicated to the preservation of significant events in people’s life, my Family Legacy Collection is a great way to start a sentimental journey through life’s milestones with unique lasting legacy albums to be passed on to the next generations.  Although many of my customers have been keeping their pictures in digital files, they have rediscovered with this album series the ultimate pleasure of gathering together with other family members to carefully select their favorite pictures and to flip through the pages with family members and friends.  This keepsake album series is thus creating another fantastic occasion to reinforce the bond between generations and to generate meaningful social interactions.

The Baby Milestone Album is the first series in the Family Legacy Collection that was officially launched in July 2010.  The Baby Milestone Album series represents a baby buggy that nowadays became a substitute to the traditional baby cradle.  The baby buggy symbolizes the contemporary human version of a bird’s nest that embodies all that is greatest in a creature’s life: love, parenthood, and duty, as well as a sense of beauty.  To raise their descendance to the point of independence, the adult birds – and in some species the young from previous broods – participate to the construction of the nest just as human families learn how to support one another, to live together and also to create the bonds of love and understanding between all family members.  Available in a variety of colors (light blue, dark blue, pink, orange, and gold), the albums in the Baby Milestone Album series make a wonderful shower gift or a special gift to parents who want to treasure the memories of their baby’s first steps in life.

Francoise Lions    E-mail:

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