SPOTLIGHT: Nicolas Ouchenir
Welcome to our second installation of our Spotlight Series, where we feature people that have inspired us: bold designers, fellow entrepreneurs, and creative kindred-spirits. Last time, we took a peek into the life of wallpaper and pattern designer Florence Broadhurst, and we're shining today's spotlight on The Calligraphy Wizard himself, Nicolas Ouchenir.
We all love France for it’s exquisite wine, effortless style, seductive language, and equally seductive ham & cheese croissants. (And can we talk about baguettes? How on earth can bread taste so damn good?) As city mice here in New York, Paris has always captivated our hearts. It's our prettier, more fashionable, more got-it-all-figured-out big sister city, and we can't help but look up to it in wonder. Who hasn't hummed Edith Piaf's “La Vie en Rose” while meandering through the Jardin des Tuileries? Who hasn't daydreamed of eating all of the duck confit, people-watching at the picturesque cafés along the Seine, and hunting for treasures at the markets of Clignancourt? And while we're caught in a reverie, behind a door of famous Rue Saint Honoré, Nicolas Ouchenir is caught in his own dream land: penning invitations or a poem for one of Paris's elite.
With his intense scintillating eyes and curly chocolate brown hair (I would say oo la la la la la la. La.), Nicolas Ouchenir has established himself as the most sought-after calligrapher of the 21st century. His hands are as valuable as those of a surgeon, and his writing as beautiful as the ones found in the books of the greatest writers of eras past.
He grew up in Paris and has always been interested in art. As a kid, he regularly visited the museums (Quai d'Orsay and the Louvre, mais oui) with his parents, who were crazy about film and art. He himself had always been fond of the 40’s and the Art Nouveau aesthetic. He studied business and trade but ultimately wanted to work in a gallery, so it was only natural when he opened a gallery with César Pape, taking care of the finances and accounting end of things.
It was at an Andy Warhol exhibition, that Nicolas had an epiphany. Seeing the paintings and different labels, he began to write them all, one by one, on an envelope while waiting for a client. He returned that evening at the gallery and hand wrote 1,800 invitations to send out to the guests of their upcoming exhibition. The rest was history.
After his departure from the gallery, Nicolas spent a year in Brazil, only to return to Paris at the request of Jean Gabriel Mitterrand, the JGM gallery owner, and Pia de Brantes, a good friend. He worked as calligrapher for the gallery, writing all their invitations. Soon, personalized hand-written invitations caught on as a trend for the most exclusive of events.
Today, Nicolas works as an ambassador for several brands. He regularly creates invitations for the best-known haute-couture houses such as Lancôme, Chloé, or Miu Miu. During Fashion Week in Paris, he sends more than 1,000 invitations per day using his favorite tool: a Mont Blanc pen. (Again, mais oui.) In addition to his invitation calligraphy, he is also often commissioned for special projects for the Louvre or to create Visual identities for large companies. Hashtag NBD.
Nicolas Ouchenir is a true self-made man and lives his passion every single day. He pursued his craft relentlessly and worked his way to the top of the industry. He established an artistic and completely personalized trend through the dying art of calligraphy, and he's helped revive it and spread a little more beauty in the world. Plus, we have a long-standing love affair with good ol' pen and paper. As digital as we've become, first loves never die.
Not going to lie, we will probably fangirl it (hard, and with little to no shame) if we ever spot him traipsing about the streets of New York. (Traipse. That's French for "walk." They fancy.) As they say à Paris, "Ceci n’est pas un adieu mais un aurevoir..."