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I am pleased today to present a new portrait that, while making us travel to China and Japan will take us for once away from the Asian continent, in France and more precisely in Strasbourg. It is indeed live and work here that Nicolas Dupuis, alias , illustrator and graphic atypical, deeply immersed in the world of tea.

 Nikosan in his studio (1) Tea Tasting with Nikosan (1) In the workshop Nikosan (1) Fresco by Nikosan Cultural Village (1)
  • 1. Nikosan in his studio (1)
  • 2. Tea Tasting with Nikosan (1)
  • 3. In the workshop Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Fresco by Nikosan Cultural Village (1)

After studying applied arts in Strasbourg, Nikosan starts in graphics and advertising. Always fascinated by drawing, but also by Asian cultures, it will develop gradually in parallel with a more personal practice of illustration and above all, through etching, a more sensitive medium and the material. The universe is singular Nikosan, mingle different trends between Asia and the West, which combines classical imagery, historical trends or retro pop culture.

 Tori Fuda Nikosan by (1) Green Tea from Japan by Nikosan linocut (1) Tokyo street by Nikosan (1) Shibari 2 woodcut by Nikosan ( 1) Illustration for magazine by Nikosan CUT (1) Octopus engraving on wood by Nikosan (1)
  • 1. Tori Fuda Nikosan by (1)
  • 2. Green Tea from Japan by Nikosan linocut (1)
  • 3. Tokyo street by Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Shibari 2 woodcut by Nikosan ( 1)
  • 5. Illustration for magazine by Nikosan CUT (1)
  • 6. Octopus engraving on wood by Nikosan (1)

Chinese dynasties and mingle with the Japanese pop and images publicoloniales, the Chinese New Year lanterns and Japanese illuminate both buildings saturated streets of neon lights of Tokyo as scenes of erotic intimacy, push the feet of teapots, tentacles the wise, all on a touch of zen, a lot of sobriety, a touch of humor and always a great balance.
Nikosan takes us well in China, Japan, Korea, and especially between those worlds into spaces linked by tea and where different cultures mix and rewrite. Because of Asian culture to tea there is not one that crosses Nikosan with ability to dive with passion in this universe. Tea becomes alternately subject and creation engine, acts as a kind of bond between the culture seeps between trends and is the central subject, a discreet wink, or act in foundation, is still present.

 House of the Japanese by Nikosan (1) Geisha by Nikosan (1) Raku Bowl by Nikosan (1) Happy New Year 2009 by Nikosan (1)
  • 1. House of the Japanese by Nikosan (1)
  • 2. Geisha by Nikosan (1)
  • 3. Raku Bowl by Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Happy New Year 2009 by Nikosan (1)

Nikosan otherwise has not abandoned the graphics and design, but gradually builds bridges between his passion for tea and his work as a graphic designer, becoming one of the few graphic designers who specialize in Western tea. Furthermore the identity of its own space of tea he has worked on graphic design, image or design for different tea houses in France, as the tea house The muses tea but also abroad as Camelia sinensis or in Canada.

 Packaging for Tea Nikosan by the Muses (1) Packaging by Nikosan (1) Boxes of tea Camellia Sinensis by Nikosan (1) Book-tasting tea Nikosan (1)
  • 1. Packaging for Tea Nikosan by the Muses (1)
  • 2. Packaging by Nikosan (1)
  • 3. Boxes of tea Camellia Sinensis by Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Book-tasting tea Nikosan (1)

Moreover, since the installation of Nikosan to "pass", Strasbourg beautiful places from 1640, he built next to his studio and exhibition space, a public space dedicated to tea, or can be settle, relax in a warm and serene and enjoy a selection of quality teas. Nikosan it also holds regular workshops and thematic tastings.

An interview with Nikosan

Can you tell us about your background? Where are these two passions, to illustrate one hand and the other for tea?

My background is atypical ... I've always been passionate about drawing. I started doing the Applied Arts, then I turned to computer graphics to work in advertising agency. A more personal and practice-oriented illustration has developed gradually after that first experience. Following my artistic career has been built so self-taught. I'm going to call me that! Today, I keep in my experience in the naive world of illustration, graphic associated with my culture. Two worlds that I did not hesitate to combine them in my creations. I was an early passion for Far Eastern cultures thanks to my father, fascinated by Japan and its culture, especially Japanese gardens ... There I had a not to fall into the world of tea! Since then, I never tire of exploring these cultures, especially China and Japan, Korea ... The tea is never far away in these cultures, and I continually discover new sources of inspiration. Along my journey, I had the opportunity to work in a teashop and to satisfy my passion, which allowed me to learn even more about this beverage! Since I work regularly in this world of tea.

 Nikosan in his studio (1) Sakura by Nikosan (1) Book Nikosan (1) Tea Tasting by Nikosan (1)
  • 1. Nikosan in his studio (1)
  • 2. Sakura by Nikosan (1)
  • 3. Book Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Tea Tasting by Nikosan (1)
How do these two passions inform and enrich each other?

I directed a few years now my research and my work mainly on the far eastern cultures and tea culture. Communion is a natural way, without me lay down rules of operation. This does not prevent me from working on other things, but I confess I do not get tired of these crops, or tea.

On your website you present yourself as "Nikosan, an illustrator on the Way of Tea ..." what does it mean to you?

Tea with me for many years, and I continually learn new things about it. This is a broad field, where nothing is really gained. For example, the same tea from one year to another will have a different taste. We change the accessories to enjoy it, and again the taste will change ... In the illustration it is the same, I test different techniques and does not hesitate to regularly challenge my working methods. This is a permanent enrichment. Tea also helps me refocus myself, to take me a while to do just that and nothing else. In short, drinking tea is for me one time simple, quiet, relaxing and revitalizing. This is my Way of Tea ...

And if we saw things the other side? Do you see yourself as a tea drinker on the path to the picture?

Interesting question, I've never thought! I think so, it should work in much the same way, these two worlds are interdependent for me.

You live and work in Strasbourg. When one thinks Strasbourg, it is thought beer, white wine, gastronomy, is there a place for tea in Strasbourg

It seems that yes! Tea, in general, has grown strongly in recent years in France. I do not know why, it is strongly present in Alsace, especially in Strasbourg. Finally, it has found its place among our specialties! Perhaps our interest in gastronomy?

And then a good place to drink tea or buy good tea when you're visiting the capital of Alsace

There are a few shops, all very interesting for various reasons. There is the Palace of teas that almost everyone knows, and which offers a wide variety of teas. It seems to me that their Darjeeling are very good. There are Tea of ​​the Muses, small shop which also offers a large selection of teas and where you can taste all the teas available for sale. There is also The Language of Tea, a boutique specializing in teas from China and Taiwan. There are other smaller, but I do not know them very well, I took the habit of ordering my tea directly in producing countries.

Except us, there's there among the small community enthusiasts who write or work on a surprising number of tea from Strasbourg, I think of course Stephane Erler from Taiwan who publishes a blog on tea, which until recently Philip was a fascinating blog on puerh (Pu Er tea) that many French-speaking users know , and Jean Alberti that the kitchen of a great restaurant in Strasbourg passed the tea trade. What do you think is incredible is not it?

Yes, there is a concentration rather amazing! I am familiar with Philip, a little Stephane too and I think the common thread that unites us seems to be the "taste of the good things."

What is the tea for you everyday?

I have no rules. I often start my day with tea, on my tatami. Lately, I drink mostly puerh, prepared by the method of gong fu cha. I grant time for that morning, even to get up earlier.

What are your favorite teas?

Hard to choose ... It depends on the times. I have a weakness for puerh, whether raw or cooked and lightly oxidized oolong for and floral aromas. I also appreciate a sencha, provided it is prepared!

 Card of the tea house Cha Yi (1) Booklet for Tea teahouse of the Muses (1) Booklet for Tea teahouse of the Muses (1 ) Small box with matcha (1)
  • 1. Card of the tea house Cha Yi (1)
  • 2. Booklet for Tea teahouse of the Muses (1)
  • 3. Booklet for Tea teahouse of the Muses (1 )
  • 4. Small box with matcha (1)
You have designed the graphic identity of several tea houses, can you tell us about these shops, and aesthetics and how was the collaboration between the designer of a hand and secondly the establishment of tea?

Collaboration was beautifully placed every time, although I worked for some tea houses on the internet, the latter being located abroad. I prefer the human touch, and I must say it was a pleasure working with all these people. I refer in particular to the Tea House Cha Yi that just opened in Canada, held by two fans. Lovely people, who understand the Way of Tea

 Godzilla 1954 by Nikosan (1) Nikosan by astronaut (1) Kyokushinkai woodcut by Nikosan (1) Bruce Lee by Nikosan (1) Tokyo street by Nikosan (1)
  • 1. Godzilla 1954 by Nikosan (1)
  • 2. Nikosan by astronaut (1)
  • 3. Kyokushinkai woodcut by Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Bruce Lee by Nikosan (1)
  • 5. Tokyo street by Nikosan (1)
Your illustrations have something very personal, we find very different influences, sometimes more japanese, sometimes more sinisantes, Japanese bondage scenes at the Chinese Cultural Revolution, how you place yourself in these various Asian cultures? What makes this connection, tea

No, this time the tea is not there for nothing. In fact, I have no rules, I'm not trying to create a special link. I let myself be inspired by what is coming. I spend much of my time immersed in books or on the internet doing research. I sometimes spend more time with me than to create a work document! Some images or events challenge me, so I stop there and tries to extract something. This is done naturally by feel.

Are we in the West can create with Asian imagery without the repetition, the cliche? How?

can see today a trendy graphics, vintage or retro way. I'm not particularly a fan of trends, but this retro world I've always liked, especially through old photos colorized the Japanese countryside or Chinese propaganda posters, although the latter were also revisited. Finally, I do not really care if there is repetition or cliché in my creations. I think the trick is to have his vision, a personal approach where you can feel the sensitivity of the artist, and there will always be something new in art

Is it that your eyes distance is favorable to a mixture of visual cultures, or is it that a French link to Japan, China and Korea in practice it is the same influences that bind Belgian and Polish Sicilian
It all depends

ties that one can have with these visual cultures. The distance I have with Asian countries is not only by geography but also by the difference with my education and theirs, my culture and theirs ... This may be the distance that allows me to enter these cultures in my own way.

There is a picture of your particular amuses me when I see and meet China's influence and very "British tea" ... Can you say one or two words?

For these illustrations, I was inspired by old Chinese advertisements. The presence of Western cultures is represented by small things like a sofa or clothes. I love this mix, where two radically different cultures blend into one another ...

 n 1 Advertising Nikosan by (1) Advertising by Nikosan n 2 (1) Bombs Nikosan by (1) Bombs Nikosan by (1)
  • 1. n 1 Advertising Nikosan by (1)
  • 2. Advertising by Nikosan n 2 (1)
  • 3. Bombs Nikosan by (1)
You have also a job that I love you paint or Asian characters on spray cans, can you tell us about? Subtle wink or is there one night and Dr. Niko Mr Hide?

I love experimenting with new technologies and changing media. The spray paint was a great way to exhibit a project to turn around and above. The support here was imposed and was part of an exhibition organized by the artist C215, and gathering a great number of artists from the "street art".

 Tokyo street by Nikosan (1) Tokyo street by Nikosan (1) Tokyo street by Nikosan (1) Tokyo street by Nikosan (1)
  • 1. Tokyo street by Nikosan (1)
Ta series "Tokyo street" feels terribly the experience, have you made in Tokyo, or after a trip to this amazing city? Can you tell us about the origin of these illustrations?

Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to go on site to carry out this series ... I was inspired by photographs, which I then revisited, refined, reworked ...

There is something very photographic, or very "graphic" in this series, however, made in Indian ink, how do you juggle between these mediums?

I like as much work on a computer on a canvas. They are two different mediums, I try to make them complementary. For this series, I initially made these pictures on my computer, using my graphics tablet. Once the image created, I had fun to play in the great Indian ink.

I can not help but wink, what do you think of the work Ronald Curchod , renowned illustrator, and (we know least) a great lover of tea, without these two worlds do not intersect so evident in his work?

I know his work, and I am particularly a fan of his achievements in gouache! His compositions are generally very sober, of good depth and full of poetry, in my opinion. It really speaks to me ...

Rather anchored in the world of illustration and graphics you participated 3 years ago at a contemporary art fair. Can you tell us about that experience?

It was an experience quite fast I must say, I did not really get to enjoy! I was able to expose in the circle of young creators of the international contemporary art fair "St'art" which takes place every year in Strasbourg. Along with other artists, I realized painting a "live" at a major exhibition dedicated to gastronomy. This cloth then joined the contemporary art fair and was auctioned for the benefit of an association.

You are currently in residence in the beautiful space that is Strasbourg Le Passage. Shortly after arriving you invaded your space with presses, actually quite normal, but you are also installed a kind of tea room, open to the public, which is less common. Can you tell us about this space, how you see it, is it for you?

I could not ask my presses without my tea next! Tea accompanying me on a daily basis and integral part of my work, I needed to find a place ... The choice was a natural space where I present a gallery of my work. This is a small tea house, consisting of a table and a tatami. Visitors can if they wish to sit and eat tea, infused as it should ... It's a way to immerse people in my world, whether tea or the arts and making them travel in mind. I offer a dozen teas origins, directly from plantations (limiting intermediate) and brewed according to traditional preparation techniques. They are mainly from China, Taiwan and Japan. The card is set to change, according to my findings, seasons and events ...

illustration and publishing world is for the viewer a visual world, but on the other side of the sheet, we maintain fast, I think, a deep attachment with an olfactory world , wood, ink, gelatin, solvents, as many perfumes which are fixed to the colors and emotions until they become inseparable in the memory ... something that mixes the senses as a good tasting tea ... Is it also a feeling that you felt?

I totally agree! For my part, I feel it rather with the tools I use and feel of the place, as to burn my gouges, or wood with its smell, the presses with their aesthetic ... The moods of my workspaces have always been very important. It helps me to immerse myself in my world, to immerse myself ... That's why I decorate a minimum.

 Japan-expo-6 by Nikosan (1) College Bouxwiller Nikosan by (1) Tea House by Nikosan (1) Koi fuda Nikosan by (1)  Fuda Shodo
  • 1. Japan-expo-6 by Nikosan (1)
  • 2. College Bouxwiller Nikosan by (1)
  • 3. Tea House by Nikosan (1)
  • 4. Koi fuda Nikosan by (1)
  • 5. Fuda Shodo
you find yourself something similar between a tea gung fu and the practice of drawing or writing? A search for balance, gesture, the gesture made the memory that we can not necessarily reproduce, etc.

Yes, totally! My compositions are often sober. I try to go to basics and put the items in the right place to best balance these compositions and process them in a simple and effective. When I paint in ink, the line should be well placed, well placed, leaving express natural movements of the body. Much like a gong fu tea finally, where the attention will focus on the actions you are doing. It is also a way to see its shortcomings, observing how the body reacts, how to move the arm for example.

You organize regular workshops not only around the image but also tea, can you tell us about it?

I regularly within the Passage workshops around the tea culture. I suggest parties' discovery of tea "which addressed the history of tea, its origins, how to prepare it or its manufacturing methods. Each night is different. The next will be devoted to the discovery of gong fu cha, Puerh teas or the senchado. It varies, and I have a lot of themes in reserve ...! This happens so friendly and human scale. I do not take more than 10 people. Dates are updates on my website.

You, last year, is produced by a small family producer Yunnan a limited series of puerh (Pu Er tea) cakes, which you have chosen the great features, designed packaging and which I at your request supervised the production, can you tell us about your experience, what does it mean to you?

This is another step on my Way of Tea, and in my artistic process. I always try to find exceptions teas, with a flawless traceability in order to talk to interested parties. Moreover, it is often what is lacking in tea shops: just information! So, I love to talk about a tea that I propose to tasting, talk about its location, people who deal with plantations of tea, how they work, etc. ... It's really important I think, we appreciate the tea in another way, from a more "human". I take this opportunity to thank you for having supervised this production, which allowed me to approach the world of puerh (Pu Er tea) otherwise and learn more about it

A tea by Nikosan

Born of a long exchange, and we made haste, exactly a year ago, this very limited production that Nikosan launch with the publication of this article. Kept discreetly from within the walls of Nikosan we waited for his first year to make it public so that it reaches maturation necessary. But it is a tea-call that will take advantage of a few years of aging before fully revealing.

 Yo Cha Nikosan Tong, Bing Wang, 2010 Yo Cha Nikosan Tong, Bing Wang, 2010 Yo Cha Nikosan, Bing Wang, 2010 Yo Cha Nikosan, Wang, 2010
  • 1. Yo Cha Nikosan Tong, Bing Wang, 2010
  • 3. Yo Cha Nikosan, Bing Wang, 2010
  • 4. Yo Cha Nikosan, Wang, 2010

This is a small cake 200g harvested leaves, pressed on the farm and produced by Wang Bing, a small family producer of the village of Wu Yi that I presented in detail in a previous article. This is a particular tea, a purple variety of tea that the premises named Cha You (油茶) that grows in the mountains Wu Yi tea Sometimes referred to these three colors of leaves, rich in anthocyanins, present on the tree a clear violet color, becoming almost black when dry, then green once infused. Their aromas are also singular, very sweet, sharp and slightly spicy. This is an autumn harvest, done carefully on own family trees, worked entirely on a small scale farm and then pressed by hand by the Wang family.

 Wang Bing observing a mao cha mahai, YiWu Leaves violets that underpin the production of Yo Cha Nikosan Harvesting tea leaves in the Wang family Sorting tea leaves in the Wang family
  • 1. Wang Bing observing a mao cha mahai, YiWu
  • 2. Leaves violets that underpin the production of Yo Cha Nikosan
  • 3. Harvesting tea leaves in the Wang family
  • 4. Sorting tea leaves in the Wang family

Besides having selected the producer, tea and format of the wafer, as naturally Nikosan has designed the packaging that we have printed on a paper puerh (Pu Er tea) quality carefully chosen. Not wishing to put an arbitrary name or too poétisant Nikosan decided to highlight the true local name of this tea: You Cha. Meaning "tea fat" this name refers to the shiny side of the leaves, we hear only very rarely to dealers or off villages of Yi Wu, the side "fat" is probably not considered very attractive a marketing perspective. Also true to my approach and strict ethics that I asked and I defend on the supervision of productions puerh, Nikosan does not substitute as we see too often in the real producer of the wafer, which although that 'being small has to be highlighted and it is therefore a special limited series produced seamlessly by Wang Bing Yi Wu for Nikosan.

 Slab Yo Tong Cha Packing of the cake designed by Nikosan Yo Cha (1) Realization of the engraving by Nikosan Yo Cha (1) Realization of engraving Yo Cha Nikosan by (1) Etching Nikosan accompanying cakes Yo Cha (1)
  • 1. Slab Yo Tong Cha
  • 2. Packing of the cake designed by Nikosan Yo Cha (1)
  • 3. Realization of the engraving by Nikosan Yo Cha (1)
  • 4. Realization of engraving Yo Cha Nikosan by (1)
  • 5. Etching Nikosan accompanying cakes Yo Cha (1)

To not do things by halves and put a little deeper personal touch, the wafers are also accompanied by a small engraving as a Nei Piao, drawn, engraved and drawn by Nikosan, also in very limited.
And here is what happens:

Chargement du thé...

Images Copyright Olivier Schneider except (1) Copyright Nikosan

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