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June 19, 2013

Jean-Philippe Delhomme Draws New York for Louis Vuitton

By Erin Schumaker | Books

Louis Vutton New York book
Photo courtesy of Louis Vuitton

French artist Jean-Philippe Delhomme was living in New York when Louis Vuitton approached him about illustrating a book on New York for its travel-book collection. The rest, as they say, is history. Travel Book New York ($56) is a clothbound tome in English and French that contains more than 100 of Delhomme’s vibrant watercolor paintings of the city. We caught up with the artist for the story behind his work.

Q: What inspired you to do this?

A: I’ve been traveling and working on different projects in New York since the mid-’90s, and I’ve always been inspired by the city. In fact, it’s difficult to find a place as visually exciting. The buildings, the signs—it’s by the water and it’s often industrial with this incredible light. And, of course, the tremendous variety of people, characters.

Q: What differentiates this collection from other travel works?

A: It’s a visual exploration. Instead of thinking of covering the classic New York views and landmarks, I let myself be guided by what inspired me to do drawings. I walked across the city waiting to be surprised.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory of working on the book?

A: I’m fascinated by the particular crispy and strong light, which I feel is unique to New York, especially the deep shadows that make the streets and sidewalks as dramatic as a theater stage. The buildings are often a dark-brick color or green cast iron—all this makes strong backgrounds that make people stand out. I’m also inspired by the old New York, would it be building lobbies, painted signs, garages or disappearing shops. There are even two pictures in the book, one of a Times Square record shop and another of a jewelry shop on Pine Street—both of which disappeared while the book went to print.