Jérôme Masi finds creative purpose through the poetry of freedom and empty spaces
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Jérôme Masi, a painter-illustrator-designer. From a peaceful town nestled near the French Alps, Jérôme Masi works on minimalist and bold illustrations that explore the interstices where stillness and chaos meet.
We’ve featured his work in the “Colorful & Bright” style of our Brand Cards collection. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know him as much as we did. Enjoy the read!
“I’ve been living in Annecy in France for the past 6-7 years,” Masi explains. “It lies between a lake and mountain far from Paris, which I adore.” It is in this loving contrast between rural tranquillity and bustling city vibes that his work is brought to life.
For many, this kind of remote location could be seen as a hindrance to a creative business’s success. Instead for Masi it acts as a conduit, inspiring pieces that explore the spaces between the constant motions of our lives.
Art has been a lifelong adventure for this painter-illustrator-designer. Born in 1977, Masi’s first artistic influences came from his father - an interior designer - who introduced him to the minimalist style of the Bauhaus architectural movement at a relatively young age.
As a child, he would take a pen and paper and fill sketchbooks with his ideas. However, it was a paintbrush and canvas that would give Masi’s talent room to blossom. “I have had a relationship with painting since childhood,” he confesses. “It will not leave me.”
Yet this wasn’t to be the only art form to pique Masi’s interest. As his skills developed, so the evolution of technology and digital design began; something that (as a child of the 1980s) has shaped his now instantly recognizable style.
Over the years, Masi discovered that it wasn’t the art form that drove him to create, but rather his own sense of adventure. “As a child, I needed freedom and discovery,” he explains. “I wanted to explore, to seek. But I did not really know how and what shape this would take in adulthood.”
He developed a strong relationship to art and its ability to allow a creator to express himself in ways that open up time and space and bring about new beginnings.
Masi says the Albert Camus quote, “to create is to live twice” has a profound impact on his work. “It gives the impression that when we create, when we make something, it's a way to get ahead of life and time,” he describes. “It's a way of living intensely and filling the spaces.”
After graduating from the Emile Cohl School with a degree in illustration and animation in 2001, Masi worked in the video game industry before launching his own design studio.
Since 2010, his focus has been on creating striking vector illustrations that grab the viewer’s attention and invite them to observe the world differently.
Taking inspiration from designers of the 1930s and 1950s - such as Neimeyer and Le Corbusier - Masi’s art follows a uniquely minimalist course. Using contrasting areas of color and sleek lines, he brings vibrancy and vigor to his work while still managing to scale back to the essentials for maximum impact.
When capturing the essence of his subject, Masi finds that his creative intent often comes from “working through the poetry of freedom, empty spaces, and the balance of things.”
He continues, “I like, whether in the meaning or the form, to leave all the space to the imagination of the one who looks. Like a free chair in which one could take their place and live, each one, their own film.” He is also guided by another, very important criterion. “Of course, I also attach myself to what is beautiful. We need beauty in this world,” he states. “It's essential!”
While guidelines and rules are not something he generally adheres to, Masi says that when producing his art he is mainly driven by a desire to be in tune with the world around him. “I like being attentive to the things around me,” he says. “People are a part of it. But if I have a rule it is certainly the one: to do, to produce, to succeed.”
People are certainly at the heart of Masi’s first solo exhibition at the Maison Tangible Gallery in Paris this year. Titled ‘Remue Méninges’, the showcase questions the place of women and men as we stand in the world today.
When considering his latest pieces, Masi feels tangible fulfillment. “I am often proud of my most recent works, and I have even more of those to come,” he smiles. “It's my personal work that I layer on relatively large formats which give me the most satisfaction. The exhibition at the Maison Tangible is a good example of this, and I'm pretty proud of it.”
As his portfolio of accomplishments grows, Masi continues to search for the space and freedom he has longed for since childhood. “I am mainly looking to work less and less behind my computer,” he laughs.
He is also seeking to move beyond his current interests and into alternate mediums. “I really want to continue to explore volumes and objects,” he says. “I am looking for a new workshop in order to be able to develop all that.”
Not content with being defined solely as an illustrator or a painter, Masi enjoys working as an art director on graphic and video productions and envisions expanding even further.
“I am dreaming of collaborations in design, crafts, deco, or scenography,” he muses.
“I’m dreaming of meeting other people that are passionate about what they do and sharing their knowledge.” But if that doesn’t work out he does have a whimsical backup plan. “Otherwise, I’ll go for a ride on the moon.”