Today we’d like to introduce you to Valentine Viannay.
Hi Valentine, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I started working in the movie industry after getting a degree in set design from Central Saint Martin’s in London. Worked on features like sleepy hollow as a model maker and color designer to props dresser for pop videos with Madonna. It has been a good foundation to eventually work in the interior design industry and product design. I came to San Diego in 2001, started a company called the Painter Genie and was a full time mural and luxurious faux finisher, and still practice to date.
I started custom printing upholstery fabrics in 2006, which lead to making fashion accessories and jewelry. The dish towel and apron designs came a little later in 2010, The dish towel line was a sort of random lucky accident. I made some napkins for a fancy art party and printed the same designs onto dish towels and they took off, now they are selling mostly all over the states and a few internationally. I decided to open L’Atelier in 2016, to teach, share my knowledge and also to feature other artist in the space not just my own.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There always ups and down but the key is to find a good balance. Growing up you want to fit in and as an artist you usually don’t! The best part is when you realize your strength is that you do see the world differently, it is your gift and you are here to inspire and make people dream. The reason I do so many different things is that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. The 2008 recession made us all rethink our lives, a little like Covid I guess. It is in the hard times that you learn the most. (and when you make mistakes).
2008 recession hit me hard later in 2010, suddenly no work came in for a while there. The towels were an absolute savior and that is when they really took off. I even did an event at Costco once to get by that year. There is something to be said about a product under $10 that gives you joy, you have to understand in my position working in mansions in Rancho Santa Fe, to selling towels was somewhat degrading but I always felt blessed in the journey. Positive attitude always wins.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a painter at the base and then the rest is different techniques but it’s all working with paint. Painting came naturally to me at a very young age, it’s the best way to express myself. I am know as a painter first I think. But then the stores that carry my products don’t necessarily know I paint in interiors or do restoration work. The life of an artist means you have to be comfortable with the unknow. It’s a mix of constantly seeking ideas, a lot of observing and then I work with a lot of interior designers and they know they can ask me to do the oddest jobs! Not sure if this answered the question!
Who else deserves credit in your story?
My husband for sure, has always supported me, definitely my cheer leader, always, no matter what. My mentors are other artists and designers like Monet, Manet, Picasso, Isamu Noguchi, Anish Kapoor, Issay Miyake.
San Diego has been really good to me and I am grateful to all the interior designers, contrators, shops I work with. Teachers that have shaped me the most would be Patricia Lambert at Parson’s school of design in new York, that taught me color theory. My mother, a high end jeweler, playing in her studio growing up and working with all kinds of materials.
Locale Magazine, August 2020