Traffic Artist Collection 2021: Monsieur Z
Monsieur Z is a French illustrator who combines the lush atmosphere of the French Riviera (circa 1950) with the clean lines of mid-century California architecture.
As a Traffic NYC artist, he recently teamed up with Wagner Custom Skis to create five pairs of playful, elegant skis. Here is the collection, and an exclusive interview with the artist himself.
This year, we commissioned Monsieur Z to create a Telluride ski and poster unique for Wagner Custom and the resort. The topsheet graphics are shown below, the poster is available here.
Telluride by Monsieur Z
Wagner: What kind of artist do you consider yourself to be?
Monsieur Z: I’m 30% illustrator, 30% commercial designer, and 30% artist. 10% remains to be discovered.
Wagner: Where can people usually find your art?
Monsieur Z: I’ve shown in galleries around the world, especially in France, but also in LA, at Riley Art Gallery on Manhattan Beach, for example. I do a lot of work for magazines, too.
Pool Party by Monsieur Z
Wagner: If you wanted a reader to know one thing about your art, what would it be?
Monsieur Z: I always aim to create art that’s simple and accessible to the greatest number of people. I try to find the beauty that surrounds me and share it…
Wagner: What is your favorite work of art?
Monsieur Z: There are so many I admire—I love Edward Hopper, for one.
Sunset by Monsieur Z
Wagner: How does it feel to see your art on skis?
Monsieur Z: It’s fun—I love skiing, and I found it really interesting to play with the form of skis in relation to the images. I think my favorite pair is the one with all the circles, Abstract (from the 2018 series).
Wagner: Are you a skier?
Monsieur Z: Yes, I got my first star (first level in France) at age seven. I’m a little less reckless than I used to be, and I’m more careful on the big slopes now. Still, I try to go to the French Alps once a year, generally to Tignes-Val d’Isère.
Sea of Ice by Monsieur Z
Wagner: What is your favorite place to ski?
Monsieur Z: I’d say Espace Killy and Tignes-Val d’Isere, but I also like Avoriaz, and some spots in Switzerland.
Wagner: Any last comments?
Monsieur Z: Making art is like skiing. In the beginning, we fall a lot—once seasoned the pen slides easily along the track.
Like what you've seen? Be sure to check out the other artists in this series:
About the artist
Richard Zielenkiewicz, a.k.a. Monsieur Z, is a French artist best known for his jet-set inspired illustrations. His simple yet sophisticated work reflects his ongoing fascination with the retro sensibility of 1960s Hollywood, Neutra architecture, and the French Riviera. Combining elements of graphic design and architecture with an effortless sense of style, he has become one of the most celebrated artists on the illustration scene today. After studying graphic design and 3D computer graphics at l’École Supérieure des Arts et Industries Graphiques in Paris, and later working as a director of art and commercial animation, Monsieur Z now lives and works in the South of France. He collaborates consistently with top brands like Redken, Lexus, Evian, Bombay Gin, Hasbro, Elle, Glamour, Cannes Film Festival, and Guess, and has been the artist behind numerous animated French cartoon series. His first animated movie, French Riviera, produced by Luc Besson, is in the works.
Wagner Custom would like to extend a thank you to Marla Meridith for helping us find this Illustrator and making a connection with Traffic in NYC.