Monique is one of our favorite makers and a most inspiring new friend! She's been working to spread love and good vibes through this beautiful, whole-hearted project she calls Flambeauxs. We're happy to share her candles and open approach to life!
What's your name and where are you from?
My name is Monique Champagne. I was born down the bayou about 30 min southwest of here in Lafourche parish. I’ve spent a lot of time in Austin and Lafayette though. I'd consider myself from cajun country.
How long have you been working on the Flambeauxs?
I guess Flambeauxs started about 5 months ago or so. My partner Claire needed bottles printed for her line of essential oil colognes, Palomine Botanicals. We bought this little Rube Goldberg contraption from the internet that was used for printing on cylindrical things. It came to us from straight from China in a busted up crate with no instructions. After months of messing her bottles up (sorry Claire!) I sorta figured it out. I thought it would be cool to print on candles and started practicing on them. Always wanted to print 7 day candles but could never figure out the curved thing in an efficient way.
Is this your primary medium?
Primarily, I am a set decorator which might translate well into installation art in layman’s terms. Reading a script and turning pages and characters into tangible sets/spaces is what most of my time is spent doing. The film industry has been my home for many years starting back in the late 90’s. In an attempt to take breaks from 60-80hr film work weeks, I usually dabble in some kind of make shift artistic endeavor. I’ve always put together short films with the help of good pals, and consider filmmaking the art I attempt most often. I kinda feel like we are all artists in some way. If love and kindness is the medium, I think you get art. My mom, who has dedicated her life to teaching kids -- mostly troubled kids -- how to understand math.. that seems like an art to me. It may never see a gallery, but its as inspirational and meaningful as it gets. I try to mimic her dedication and purpose in the things I do.
What is your favorite medium, technique, or platform for sharing your work?
Outside of film, I have always loved printing of any kind. Being a home brewed screen printer has always been under my skin. Anytime I can take a break from film work, I find I try to block print or screen print something. Technique -- I think in a non-technical aspect, surprising people… even in film. Something unexpected or inspiration in unlikely places… that might be the technique. I like to think often of the state of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans as the platform :) Does that even make sense lol?
Adventure is also on the top of my list- a sense of wonder is something I hope to never lose. Thats something I love about film, sometimes you can still leave a movie theatre and feel clouds under your feet. With Flambeauxs, the idea was the same. It’s such a strange time right now. Trying to figure everything out can be a slippery slope. I wanted to do something that made people feel good, distract them -- make them feel part of something. That might be ambitious but thats ok. Music has been the only thing that has ever made much sense to me. Lyrics have that thing, the ability to take aloneness out of the moment. I started printing lyrics on candles that I thought would help someone through their day. Then I would leave them around town -- literally… I would just stick them in random places around town with little notes on them. I just wanted to make people smile. Then I started posting about it on Instagram and turned it into a sorta scavenger hunt. Now I try to hide at least one candle every Sunday and post a clue on Instagram that helps lead people to it. It just seems like a small way to help things stay light, stay fun… and in turn pay tribute to the songs that helped me out of dark places, songs that kept me going. Im motivated by giving people a reason to smile or feel good.
What have you learned lately through producing art?
I’ve learned that if you are using your whole heart, that’s art. Whatever that looks like. If it comes from the entirety of your heart… it will lead you right where you need to be, I think. I’ve also learned that I don’t know that much, and that thats ok. Not knowing… I think art has taught me that its ok if you don’t know.
Is there anything that you have learned through art that has made you a better person as a whole?
I think art has taught me how to listen, which in turn I think has made me a better person. It’s taught me to respect what I don’t understand.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m trying to go into 2017 with hope. Right now I am working on a year long series where I collaborate with local artists each month: I am truly psyched to join forces with those folks who inspire me. In the line up is Ida Floraek, Gabe from Inkwell -- a badass printer/writer who has been around, Meredith Zelenka, Luke Howard, Alex Kilburn, Lise Ferraro… (hopefully DNO!) I would love to get some other folks on board also. I’m excited to see how different everyones work is.. I think the series will be a dedication to New Orleans -- a “Dear New Orleans” series.
What most inspires you about New Orleans?
New Orleans is a poem in and of itself. You can’t run from New Orleans. You are forced to deal with it here, whatever “it” is. You fall in love and out of love everyday here and its complicated and beautiful all at the same time. The heartbeat in my own chest feels like that of the heart of this city sometimes.
Are there any wise words you’d like to share?
Be kind to each other. Be light. Be love :)