Featured Artist: Sacrée Frangine

The phrase “sacrée frangine” is so idiomatic to French that it is impossible to translate it into English with exactitude. The word “sacrée” literally translates to “sacred”, but paired with a substantive, it becomes equivalent to the expression “a hell of a”, while “frangine” (informal) means “sister”. A “sacrée frangine” is a “sacred sister” and “a hell of a sister” all at once. “Sacrée Frangine” is the fruit of the sorority of Célia and Aline, two childhood friends who have been working together as a creative duo in Paris, France since 2016. Their illustrations resemble Matisse’s collages reinvented in soft and sunny colors, and have attracted a large following on Instagram as well as opportunities for the two women to collaborate with brands and other artists. They told us all about their fascination for womanhood, the impact of a good color palette, and what it’s like to work with your best friend.

How do you describe your aesthetic? 

Pour le décrire on pourrait utiliser les mots doux, simple et vivant. Entre abstrait et figuratif, l’essentiel de nos travaux se découpent en compositions colorées et notre approche est assez minimaliste. De larges aplats, des formes et des couleurs qui s’entremêlent, on cherche à capturer l’essentiel tout en laissant place à la subjectivité. On nous dit souvent que nos portraits sont très expressifs malgré l’absence de visage. C’est là toute la beauté de l’art minimaliste ! 

We could use the words soft, plain, and lively to describe it. Our body of work oscillates between the abstract and the figurative, it is mainly composed of minimalist, colorful pieces. We want to capture what is essential while leaving some space for subjectivity through large swathes and a mix of shapes and colors. People often tell us that our portraits are very expressive despite their absence of a face. For us, that is the beauty of minimalist art! 

How did you find it? How has it evolved since you began making art? 

Esthétiquement les travaux en papier découpés de Matisse ont énormément influencés notre travail. On aime dessiner avec des couleurs et transmettre des émotions avec des formes simples et une palette riche. Beaucoup plus abstrait et minimaliste à nos débuts, notre style tend de plus en plus vers le figuratif, on a envie d’en raconter un peu plus, d’amener les gens dans notre univers tout en les renvoyant vers leur propre imaginaire. C’est également un style qui nous ressemble et qui évolue avec nos aspirations, on dessine ce qui nous entoure, ce qu’on vit et ce qu’on observe. Nos travaux sont empreints de toutes ces influences et comme nous il s’affine et évolue avec le temps. 

Aesthetically, Matisse’s collages have had a huge influence on our work. We like to draw with color and to create emotion through simple shapes and a rich color palette. Our artistic style used to be much more minimalistic and abstract when we got started, but now it leans more towards the figurative, we want to tell more stories, to invite people into our universe while reflecting their own imagination.

Our aesthetic looks like us and evolves with us, we draw what is around us, what happens in our lives, what we observe. Our work is imbued with all these influences, and just like us it ripens with time.

Who / what inspires you to create? 

On observe beaucoup les gens et on s’inspirent énormément de thèmes féminins. La Femme dans sa diversité est sans doute le sujet qui nous passionne le plus et qu’on aime le plus explorer. On pense également que les plus belles histoires se trouvent dans les choses simples et que chaque petit détail du quotidien offre un sujet à illustrer. Une relation, un geste, une rencontre, un proche, un panier au retour du marché, une tenue, une conversation, un bouquet de fleur… 

We spend a lot of time studying people, and femininity is a major influence on our work. The diversity of women is without a doubt our biggest source of inspiration and the subject we love to explore the most. We also believe that the most beautiful stories are the ones that can be found in the simplest things and that every little aspect of everyday life can become an illustration. A relationship, a movement, an encounter, a friend, a basket at the farmer’s market, an outfit, a conversation, a bunch of flowers, …

What is your creative process? What goes into the making of an illustration? 

Notre travail part d’un détail qui nous inspire; un sentiment, une photo, une ambiance, une attitude, un mot. Après un croquis sommaire nous travaillons d’abord en masses de couleurs avant d’ajouter la texture et peaufiner notre palette de couleurs. C’est réellement cette dernière étape qui donne vie à nos illustrations. La couleur a ce pouvoir de transmettre une palette infinie d’émotions et c’est par ce biais qu’on prend le plus de plaisir à s’exprimer. 

Our work is usually sparked by a detail we find inspiring; a feeling, a picture, an atmosphere, an attitude, a word. We start with a basic sketch, then we work in strokes of color before adding some texture and perfecting the color palette. That last step is really what brings life to our illustrations. Color has the power of conveying an infinite range of emotions and that is the way in which we enjoy expressing ourselves the most.

Would you like to experiment with other art forms? 

Depuis quelques temps nous revenons à des outils plus traditionnels comme la peinture à l’huile ou les pastels. On adore expérimenter et certaines collaborations nous permettent de nous réinventer en découvrant ou redécouvrant d’autres techniques et de nouveaux supports. On aimerait beaucoup travailler d’avantage la céramique. 

Lately we have returned to more traditional mediums such as oil painting or pastels. We love to experiment and some collaborations have allowed us to reinvent ourselves through a discovery or a re-discovery of other techniques and news mediums. We would love to work with ceramics. 

What do you want people to feel through your work? 

On prône la « douce vie », une notion qui se traduirait sans doute par le fait de prendre le temps d’apprécier le monde qui nous entoure et les gens que l’on côtoie à leur juste valeur. Nos œuvres expriment des thèmes positifs et c’est important pour nous de nous exprimer sous ce prisme de l’harmonie et du vivre ensemble. On représente un monde dans lequel on a grandit mais qui n’est malheureusement pas une réalité partout. À travers nos portraits on aime reproduire cette diversité qu’on observe et nos thèmes s’inspirent de valeurs simples mais essentiels comme l’amitié, l’amour, le soutien ou le partage. 

We advocate for what we call “la douce vie” (“a gentle life”), a way of life in which you take the time to enjoy and treasure the world and the people around you. Our work exudes positivity and we find it imperative to express ourselves through the prism of a harmonious existence. This world that we represent is the one in which we grew up, but unfortunately that is not a reality for everyone. We like to depict the diversity we observe in our portraits and our themes are inspired by simple yet essential values such as friendship, love, support and generosity. 

Let’s talk about consuming art instead of making it. What are some of your latest favorites? 

On a découvert le travail de Daniel Arsham à la galerie Perrotin, son esthétique quasi-archéologique est extraordinaire. Côté ciné le dernier film du réalisateur français Ladj Ly « Les Misérables » raconte avec brio la misère morale des banlieues et nous a beaucoup touché. 

We have recently discovered the work of Daniel Arscham at the Perrotin gallery (a gallery in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris). His aesthetic is extraordinary and could almost be described as archaeological. As for movies, “Les Misérables” by French director Ladj Ly brilliantly depicts life in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Paris and genuinely moved us. 

What is it like to work in such a close collaboration with someone else? What encouraged that decision? 

Finalement on travaille ensemble depuis toute petite. De nos cartons d’invitation pour nos fêtes d’anniversaires jusqu’à nos différents projets en école d’art nous avons toujours eu l’habitude de créer ensemble. On adore le concept de collaboration, faire naître un projet ou une idée par la rencontre de différentes influences et différentes sensibilités. C’était également plus rassurant et plus stimulant de se lancer à 2 dans cette nouvelle aventure. Étant amies d’enfance, on a l’avantage de se faire confiance et de se connaître, c’est donc très naturel. On a une vision éthique et esthétique assez complémentaire tout en étant différente et empreint des influences de l’une et de l’autre. On essaye de se pousser toujours plus et on sait qu’on ne sera pas seule à faire face aux éventuels obstacles que l’on rencontre dans une vie d’entrepreneur. On se sent surtout très chanceuses de pouvoir partager ça ensemble. 

We have been working together since we were kids now that we think about it. We have always made things together, from invitations to our birthday parties to various projects in art school. We love the concept of collaboration, the idea of creating something from the encounter between different influences and different sensibilities. Starting this new adventure with someone else also felt more stimulating and more reassuring to us. We are childhood friends, we know each other and we trust each other, so this collaboration feels very natural. Our aesthetics and our values compliment each other while remaining independent yet suffused by the other’s influence. We try to challenge each other and we know that we will never have to face any of the problems that come with running a business alone. We feel very lucky to be able to share this experience with someone else. 

What difficulties have you encountered with that collaboration? 

Comme dans tous les binômes il nous arrive d’être en désaccord. On est amies avant d’être un binôme professionnel et on n’a pas toujours eu la bonne façon d’échanger et d’exprimer nos idées. Aujourd’hui on sait mieux s’écouter et on travaille beaucoup sur la communication, c’est ce qui nous permet de trouver un terrain d’entente lorsqu’il y a désaccord. 

We sometimes disagree, as it happens in any partnership. We are friends first and business partners second, and we did not always know how to appropriately share our ideas and express ourselves. We have now learned how to truly listen to each other and we have worked on our communication skills, and this is what allows us to find compromises in any disagreement. 

You both used to work as art directors. How does that experience influence your artistic work today? 

Effectivement après quelques années en tant que directrices artistique dans des agences de design à Paris on a eu envie de s’exprimer davantage créativement et sortir un peu du carcan des boites de design. Aujourd’hui notre métier n’est pas si différent, nous sommes toujours créatives mais on s’est libérées de toutes ces contraintes que nous imposent le marché et les clients et qui finalement bridaient notre créativité. On garde à l’esprit tout ces codes que nous avons appris et qui nous sont utiles au quotidien mais on peut choisir de s’en émanciper pour aller plus loin dans la création. On a surtout la chance et la liberté de développer notre propre style. Cette vision de DA nous permet également de développer davantage nos propres projets, avoir la curiosité de toucher à différents domaines et divers supports. 

After a few years spent working as art directors for several design agencies in Paris, we wanted to express ourselves in a more creative way and to get out of the design business for a while. What we do today is not that different, we are still creatives but we have freed ourselves from all of these obligations imposed by the market and the clients that stifled our creativity. Some of the things we learned during these years are still useful to us today but we can always choose to forget the rules and explore our own creativity. We are lucky to have the freedom to explore our own aesthetic. The perspective we gained from working as art directors also allows us to develop our own projects and to be curious about other techniques and other artistic domains. 

You sometimes describe your creative process as “holistic”. What does that mean to you? 

On dessine toujours nos portraits sans rentrer dans le détail et on omet volontairement certains éléments pour laisser nos personnages s’incarner dans leur globalité. On a envie de flouter, de représenter un ensemble plutôt qu’un individu en particulier. 

We always design our portraits without going into too much detail and we voluntarily leave out some elements so that our figures become wholes. This is how we want our pieces to look, a whole rather than an specific individual, we want to blur the lines. 


Sacrée Frangine is a creative duo composed of Célia Amroune and Aline Kpade, two art directors and illustrators. First of all childhood friends, it’s around a mint tea that they decided in 2016 to unite their love of graphics and colors around common projects. Their work is inspired by portraits, still lifes and feminine themes that explore the beauty of simple things and everyday life. They express themselves through minimalist compositions that focus on the harmony of shapes and colors, playing with large colored areas. Mixing figuration and abstraction, they share a light and aesthetic universe that revolves around positive values around which everyone can meet. Their work can be found on Instagram

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.