Interview: Portraits, Illustration, and the Launch of Fabulous Noble

Posted at 3 pm on October 6, 2012 by

Posted in: Announcements, Digital Illustration, Events, Reviews

Fabulous Noble is a new agency that has recently launched with the purpose of getting personalised contemporary visual art onto the walls of the everyday household. They have a clear agenda, wanting to establish illustration in an arena traditionally occupied by fine art, but also to change how it is viewed in the broader sense.

Using his experience as Creative Director of Whatever Projects, Pierre-Andre Ben Lassin founded the agency with these goals in mind. The line up of artists assembled represents a wide scope of disciplines and what is going on in illustration and design today. I’m proud to say I’m one of the artists with Fabulous Noble, as well as a rich, international selection.

We sat down with Pierre to find out more about his reasons for starting the agency and the unique angle they’re bringing to the table.

© Spiros Halaris 

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background in art and design?

I was never really into academics so straight out of school I decided that I wanted to learn about the real world instead of spending hours in a classroom; it just wasn’t for me. I immersed myself in the world of contemporary design and co-founded the well-known creative agency Ora-ïto.

It was a very exciting time and I learned so much; I still to this day remember the launch of the Futurespective line of brands in ad form (Apple, Louis Vuitton, Visa) for the fashion magazine Jalouse.

After spending years in Paris I decided to move to London in order to focus more on my art. I created a series of works that were influenced by architecture and photography; I still keep it up but I always had an entrepreneurial flair so I founded the creative agency Whatever Projects that I still run today. It is a branding and web design company that collaborates with clients like Louis Vuitton and Armando Cabral amongst others. All of these experiences played a very important role in my decision to create Fabulous Noble.

© Miles Donovan

What first gave you the idea to set up Fabulous Noble?

I spend a lot of my time reading through magazines and what always attracted me were illustrations.

I always felt that these works are super strong but that there fleeting since the following month comes a new magazine with a whole different set of images. I wanted to find a way to consolidate the work by illustrators, extend their life span, and also allow for the general public to be directly involved in them. 


© Tara Hardy

How is Fabulous Noble’s approach different to what people would usually expect from privately commissioned portraiture?

At Fabulous Noble we have taken apart all of the traditional concepts associated with portraiture: we work with illustrators who come up with the most creative interpretations of people’s features and personalities; we use photographs as the starting point since we understand people don’t have time for multiple sittings; and we are giving access to everyone instead of the selected few.

© Alexandra Compain-Tissier

What qualities were you looking for in the artists you put together?

There are so many great illustrators it was hard to make a choice but what drove us was uniqueness. Due to the digital nature of many illustrations, there is a lot of repetitiveness, so the key qualities we are looking for are a stand-out aesthetic and an innovative technique. To be honest, it’s hard to describe that ‘something’ we are looking for but when we see ‘it’ we know ‘it’.  

© Alessandro Pautasso

Who do you think Fabulous Noble would appeal to?

Well, I am hoping it will appeal to all; even if art is not your thing, most people are attracted by visually alluring images. There is a touch of vanity in commissioning a portrait that I am sure many will appreciate!

I think most people are proud of owning art, and commissioned art even more since its something different and very personal. 

© Nastplas

The agency obviously makes a distinction between itself and the traditional practices associated with oil paintings and portraits. How do you think graphic art is seen in comparison to that and is that something you’d like to change?

Traditional practices have been accepted as art forms while graphic art is currently fighting for its position within the artworld. It has enjoyed much attention in the past decade so I think now is definitely the right time for people to explore it further. It is following a similar course to contemporary design, which is now celebrating its hayday; so graphic art is one to watch. 

© Antoinette-Fleur

Contemporary visual art is something that is influenced by new technology, not only in the way we work but also on what platform it can be published. How do you foresee the development of new technologies affecting art and design in the near future?

For me, contemporary art should reflect in one way or another what is happening in the world; how else would it be contemporary?

The Old Masters have made it, I don’t think we are going to find anyone who will out-do Rembrandt or Titian, but we can certainly expect greatness from artists that are pushing boundaries both in terms of subject matter and technique; that includes technology and different platforms of expression.

© Ben Heine

What are your plans for Fabulous Noble and yourself going into the next year?

I am really inspired by the work we do at Fabulous Noble and like any start-up we are learning along the way so I am sure we will have to make some modifications and adjust to what clients are asking. For the moment we are focusing on the quality of our artists and our service but down the line we will be looking to expand the types of  art commissions we offer.

We have had clients already asking if we are open to pet portraits, house portraits, and landscape portraits so that is something we will be working on in the coming months. What I see for myself for the next year? A lot of work and getting to meet some amazing artists!

© Philip Dennis