Self Love Woman: the story behind iconic drawing of Frederic Forest

The famous drawing by the french artist and draughtsman Frederic Forest has toured the world and has become an icon for many women, but what is its true story? Frederic answered us in his workshop in Paris :

How was this drawing born?

I draw every day and I have long looked for a symbol to express an immediate vision, a direct image of what a woman should think of herself. For me, it must have been a calm pose, an attitude for oneself. I did a lot of body sketches, gestures, hand placements. It was an ongoing project, but nothing really suited me.

So many times, I put aside this project and I started again from time to time. Then, there was an event for a very close person and I spontaneously made this drawing. It came without thinking. The. Like that. I knew immediately that it was the design I wanted to do for a long time. He was there. I did not give him a title and I offered it.

It’s also one of your few drawings with color?

I draw or paint with colors time to time but this original drawing did not have one. I did not post it on Instagram or somewhere else. Something very personal. And then, David Souffan, a friend then Art Director of Lancôme International, asks me if I will be interested to collaborate with him on their campaign during the “Women’s Day” that we also call the “Day of Women’s Rights” in Europe. He liked my work and the delicacy of my line corresponded to what he wanted to show at Lancôme.

I had never done such a worldwide project with this magnitude. The subject pleased me and we started. David wanted a group of women, an expression of the feminine diversity, strength and life of many friends together. We did several tests and in one of them, I took this drawing, I placed it in the center. I did a test with a colored arm for the symbol to be more effective and relevant. It is both a central hero and a link with her partners who are more that just friends.
Then, David had the idea to vary this crew and the campaign has had different versions with the character alone, three and five women together. We were delighted with the result and the campaign was very successful around the world.

This drawing that had no title has had several … which one is right for you?

Her arms intersect and form a heart with her shoulders. Her posing speaks both of the attention you carry for yourself and the hands that escape from this movement open onto others and the world around us. I did not have a title for this drawing. I did not want it. For me, it simply says something essential for women.
The spread and viral aspect of social networks has indeed written and titled several. But the two which came back most often were “Women’s Day” and “Self Love”. Which meant that this drawing had become in less than a week an worlwide icon for many.

I received a lot of messages saying that it was a strong symbol and calm at the same time, without origin or religion, without age or form. Something universal. « Self Love Woman » seems to me the best title.

How did “Self Love Woman” come in with Grammatical?

This drawing has already had several lives between its research, its first intention, its evolution with the Women’s Day and its journey with the thousand tattoos inked in the world (Lucy Hale has also one on her arm)… It still sounds as a personal and intimate echo for the women in the world and it had to have a new life. I put quite a long time before I decided to propose it to Grammatical to launch limited prints, but I still continue to receive so many requests to order the drawing of « Self Love » that it seemed natural that it is available.

You have to know how to listen and respond to your audience. This is very important even if you need time to follow it. This is also a sharing way to thank them all for their support. So, this first edition of the limited edition of this « Self Love Woman » drawing is therefore presented in its original aspect, as I realized it the early first time, with a black line. It is important for me to return to its early life. By the way, another rather strange story about this drawing is that the Japanese brush I used to do it, I can not find it in the trade anymore. Maybe it does not exist anymore but maybe it meant that it was the right tool for this image and that I should not do it otherwise. But I already found other fabulous brushes and I did not stop drawing …

And after ?

I am now quite curious to discover the interiors in which the « Self Love Woman » will be hung …


The Self Love Women drawing is available on pre-order until the 31th of January !

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