Elise has decided to leave Paris and travel around France with Joe her little dog. On board the van that she has completely moved into, she travels through the countryside and the small villages of France that she illustrates in her travel diaries.
Thirteen years in Paris and the lock-down will have ended up persuading Elise Enjalbert to drop everything. The young woman, reckless and with a strong temperament, decided to change her life! Not knowing where to go, she fitted out a truck herself to go crisscrossing France in search of the ideal place where she will put her suitcases... and her brushes. Because yes, Elise is a painter and illustrator. And the new "vanlifeuse" has found an original way to satisfy her passion: sketching and immortalizing the landscapes she crosses aboard her rolling house. A new bohemian life that officially started last April!
Elise, can you tell us about your background?
" I was born in the North of France then, when I was 15, I moved to Toulouse. After studying graphic design and visual communication in Paris, I worked for ten years as a freelance graphic designer and as an artistic director in Parisian agencies, while continuing to draw and paint on the side. With each holiday, the return to the capital was very difficult to live with. The lock-down will have been a real deliverance for me. Perched on the small balcony of my studio overlooking the Canal de l'Ourcq, this forced confinement allowed me to fully reconnect with drawing and to feel the happiness that this art gives me. I was in a constant state of inspiration which reminded me of my youth in Toulouse and which immersed me in the same feeling of fullness that one can feel on vacation. It was a real revelation! I wanted to live like this: feel like I was on permanent leave and draw full time. So I had to leave Paris, but where to go...?"
How did you come up with the idea of vanlife?
" So I decided to leave at all costs. Not knowing where to put my suitcases, the idea of wandering around to find the place "of my dreams" seemed like a good option. A friend of mine lives in a truck, that's what inspired me. The only downside is that I didn't have a driver's license. Ah! Ah!... I first bought a truck that I fitted out entirely on my own (I'm very manual and I had already experienced the layout of my studio) then I passed the driver's test...not without difficulties! Ah! Ah! "
Have you worked out a precise itinerary?
" After fitting out the truck in my parents' garden in Toulouse, my father took me to a friend's house in the Perche where I passed my driving license...for the third time! And I succeeded! The official starting point was therefore the Perche. My goal was to reach the Pyrenees in June, stopping with friends along the way. I spent the summer in the mountains, from Ariège to the Basque country. I'm going to reach the ocean then go up the coast. I would like to spend the fall in Corsica. I will see the rest of the itinerary later."
What are the benefits of your road trip so far?
" It's amazing to see a new horizon every morning! This new way of life brings an invaluable sense of freedom. Also, this experience leaves room for the unpredictable and opens up endless possibilities."
What are the "cons"?
" Paradoxically, I am someone who likes routine. So I'm a little unsettled by this new rhythm. I try to establish a regular schedule in my shift. The financial side is a bit complicated as well. You have to think carefully about your economic model to pay fixed costs and deal with unforeseen events. For example, the increase in the price of gasoline can impact travel. I simply live with the minimum. I have created an online gallery where you can buy my works. This allows you to add more. But in this adventure, it's not the money that counts but the feeling of freedom!"
Who are your artistic mentors?
" I like the classics in terms of composition, especially the meaning used by William Bouguereau. Otherwise, I like the "all the modern clique" from the end of the 19th century, from neo and post-impressionism, from the School of Paris, etc.: I like their work on texture and their concept of breaking the codes of representation. My models of inspiration are Suzanne Valadon and Matisse."
Which Instagram accounts inspire you?
" I follow the accounts of claradebray and beya_rebai, my fellow illustrators with whom I share this close link between nature and creativity. On the art side, I follow vinnabegin and ineslongevial for their compositions and their colors. I also like the accounts of solo vanlife illustrators roammates and jaazzzzzie. On the decoration side, I like the account of karolejosefabonnet whose journey can be followed, from his vanlife to his installation in a tiny house. I also like the accounts of vanbuild360 and tinyhousetalk for the self-made DIY inspirations of vans and tiny houses."
crédit photos © elise enjalbert