Elsa Jean de Dieu, when asked, would describe herself as a mural artist. A master of walls, paint and textures, you may not know her by name (yet!), but you almost definitely have seen one of her many impressive pieces around Hong Kong.
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“I grew up in a family of a lot of painters. [So it was] pretty easy for me to keep going in the same direction. And actually, I really loved painting… In the summertime, I would work for my father, and learn very basic things like how to paint a facade. And that’s how I started.”
Finding that a passion for painting was in her blood, Elsa studied and worked in Paris before moving to Hong Kong nine years ago. Now, she heads up her own team of creative ladies, including supporting artists, Faustine Roc and Carol Bellese Choi, at Elsa Jeandedieu Studio.
The team works together with Jean de Dieu as lead artist, creating unique wall textures, paint finishes, murals and illustrations for spaces in Hong Kong and further afield. The collaboration of the team is obvious, and when I visit them on site for the day, it’s like friends creating magic together. “It’s much more beautiful to create with people,” says Jean de Dieu. Anyone would agree.
Together with her team of creatives, the studio has been painting up a storm and building an impressive portfolio of painted works around town. With clients such as newly-opened restaurant Uma Nota, Indigo Living and a number of projects for client Pure Fitness, “It was much more traditional what I was doing in France. Now it’s much more creative,” she says.
“Hong Kong is a city where everything has to be beautiful and nothing lives forever,” Jean de Dieu explains. “So when they open a space, [maybe in one year or two years] it could close down – so the impact has to be ‘wow’ on the customer. In Paris, the space, when you do your design and picking your painting on the wall, it has to last for 10 or 20 years.”
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Most recently Jean de Dieu and the team are busy creating walls and textures for Pure Yoga in Pacific Place. The studio has a number of exciting projects and clients coming up. With more and more project opportunities coming up overseas, this is a dream come true for the French artist who struggles to find time between projects for time to travel.
“Here in Hong Kong you have to be super creative. Each project is a new adventure. Each project brings me something new. And I’m learning something new every time. It’s really nice, as an artist, to be here,”
Running 90km a week and swimming too, she finds a peace in the hills. We joke that she’s a machine. “For me, it’s my own time. I don’t have to work, or do anything. And doing this kind of cleaning I can give some space to my mind and it opens up new ideas.”
“I have a feeling that for me, when I’m running, I’m cleaning my day, I’m not thinking about anything else. Living in a city like Hong Kong and having your own company as an artist, it’s challenging. I have to be a teacher to my ladies I have working with me, I have to be a business woman, I have to be an artist and every day is so challenging for me, I don’t have a lot of space for my creativity. I’m still trying to understand the process of creativity, and I think at the end of my life maybe I’ll have a real peak and understand everything!”
Despite international aspirations for her work and studio, Jean de Dieu still finds home in Hong Kong. By avoiding the city on weekends, and focusing on her craft during the week, Jean de Dieu has found home in Hong Kong, “I’m happy in Hong Kong. I feel like I’ve found my balance here. It’s my perfect life.”
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