CA TALK ｜Lapin Mignon: Falling into Rabbit Hole
Friedrich Scholz [Trans.: Sleep and Dreams by H. M. Jewett, New York, 1893.]: In dreams is truth: in dreams we learn to know ourselves as we are in spite of all the disguises we wear to the world-The Interpretation of Dreams
Although some of Sigmund Freud’s (6 May 1856–23 September 1939) views may not be shared or even questioned, the above quote and his view that “dreams are able to weave a sudden impression from the world of the senses into their own structure”seems to coincide with the personal experience and creative vision of Lapin Mignon ( referred to the artist as “Lapin” in the following)to some extent .
In this article, we focus on Lapin’s creative experience, how she became an NFT artist from an industry executive; how she realized her fairy childhood dream after 16 years; and a series of related works created in the name of “Lapin Mignon”. The premise, of course, is that we see “Lapin Mignon” as an exercise in dreaming, whether by “dream” we mean “a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep”, or “a strongly desired goal or purpose”.
“Lapin Mignon” means “lovely rabbit” in French, and this “rabbit” belongs to her own world, a “bubble” that she created for herself . A world she dives deep, away from the real world to explore her emotions and happiness. It reminds me of the Rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of the world’s most famous fairy tales, published in 1938. Both the fairy tale and the names, such as “Rabbit hole”, “Hatter”, “Cheshire cat”, “Rabbit hole” have been attached with rich symbolic meanings after its publication and in the subsequent research and analysis. Today, “Rabbit Hole” symbolizes a complex, strange and unknown state and situation. Later on, the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, added to his research by referring to the rabbit hole as a tunnel into the inner subconscious. When probability sinks and their unthinkability increases, the rabbit hole events become meaningful arrangements. With such a concept in mind, let’s take a closer look at Lapin’s upbringing and the reasons why she become a crypto-artist.
Born and raised in France, Lapin is a sunny, romantic and cheerful mother of two in the UK. She and her husband both once worked as executives in leading European companies. After six years of high pressure work and the utmost tedium of life, she was determined to free herself from the Kafkaesque life she had lived for 16 years. In 2019, she signed up for the evening course of art at the suggestion of her friends, and since then she has started self-study of artistic creation in her spare time of caring for children and families. This decision came as no surprise to Lapin, and on the contrary, a little too late — Lapin’s father is a professional watercolour painter and architect, her mother is a creative master of traditional lace craftsmanship, her brother is keen on industrial design. Since her childhood, she has benefited from her father’s connections to professional art schools for children, and was even offered a place at Les Beaux Arts (the former Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris, which has been in existence for over 200 years) with high marks, but she gave it up and took a five-year business management course near her parents.
It is fair to say that Lapin’s creative path took a big detour. Although she painted and wrote as much as she could, she was never satisfied with her paintings until March this year, when she left her job, had her own time and life, and really took up a crypto-artist career. So this self-named “Lapin Mignon” is her rabbit hole to some extent, and she prefers to call it as bubble. Through this, she begins to search for her subconsciously driven selfhood and the fulfilment of her desires. As Freud pointed, a dream is the fulfilment of a wish.
But how does the subconscious mind weave dreams and how can this weaving be established? There are two potential clues in Lapin’s personal experience: First, from her self-analysis and description, we can know that she is quiet and a bit shy, but from early age, she knew how to create a safe house — not for being insecure, but for a comfortable self-state. Of course, this is due to her parents support, recognition and inspiration for her creativity since her childhood; The second is the counter-shaping of her creative experience by her childhood upbringing — in her work， we can often see many images of sea creatures, plants or natural micro-organisms, either floating in the air in abnormal way or wandering lazily in some appropriate mood, and plants seemingly conscious and alive … These images were her most endearing playmates growing up by the sea. Whether these images remained clear in her memory, the images appear in all her works under the signature “Lapin Mignon”, and in the fairy tales she wrote for children…
Of course, her littles may also bring inspiration to her creation. For example, Arthur Mignon, a novel based on her 5-year-old child, will be regarded as a rabbit that attracts Lapin to fall into the hole to find another self, rather than as a clue. Whether the rabbit is a self or a mirror image is unknown for the time being.
In this issue of CA TALK, we chat with Lapin Mignon,a woman, a mother with a colorful heart. Through dialogue, let’s fall into the rabbit hole with her.
CA: I have to say, your personal website looks stunning! Very warm, beautiful and make people feel happy. Is it a small world for yourself?
Lapin: Thank you so much. Yes this is my own very unique little world. Lapin Mignon means Cute Bunny in french, and it’s a very naive and innocent part of me — I love deep diving in my bubble, to extract me from this world, and explore my own imagination, where it full of happiness, it is sparkling with joy and is a part from time and space. It’s a way to protect myself and people I love, and people who loves my artworks, a dreamy escape.
CA: Strümpell said, “A man who dreams is removed from the world of waking consciousness”, so why do people run away? Because being a wife, a mother of two children and a creator at the same time, does the triviality of real life drive you crazy?
Lapin: This is mega hard, I won’t lie — and I am focusing a lot on ensuring that my family comes first — They are my absolute everything. I have 2 young kids, 5 and 2, a loving husband, and my family, and the time spent together is the most precious thing I have.
My 5 year old is probably the reason why I hold tight on cryptoart — because in 2019, I felt that the passion I have for what I was doing was contagious, instead of witnessing a mum getting bored with her job. I hope that my little ones will find inspiration in what I am becoming, that you can thrive and get a living from it and you can find the right balance. I usually include my 5 year old in some crypto artwork collaboration — he pushes me to see back art and painting with kids eyes, where the most important is to enjoy the actions, not the result — and have fun! I try to protect this feeling as much as I can.
CA: So you are now a full-time artist and a full-time mother, right?
Lapin: Now，Yes！Or I should say My situation changed recently, because for many many years, the last 16 years actually, I left university, where I studied Languages and Business, and I worked across Europe in traditional industries, for huge automotive brands. I had good posiLapin Mignon:t doodling, crafting, writing and being as creative as I can in my spare time.
tions and some kind of career paths.
A part of me was always wondering what would have happened if I continued Art, and went to Beaux-Art, as I was meant to do, before choosing a more “reliable” professional route. But I keptdoodling, crafting, writing and being as creative as I can in my spare time.
But I guess this was not enough, and I found difficulties to fit the corporate environment. I loved to bits what I was doing, and I was putting all my energy, but it was not enough. For the last 6 years, I had several burn-out and bored-out episodes at work, and felt sometimes really exhausted to give so much energy in such a kafkaesque type of corporate organisation.
So in 2019 I made the decision to take an Art evening course. After chasing fro some advice, one of my dear friends, sent me a link… to a NFT Application for Editional App. Fanny Lakoubay said that I should give it a try, that I may not need to go to an Art School. And this has been a life changer. I did CryptoArt ever since, and since March this year, I have stopped working for companies, created my own NFT Advising for Companies, advised Artists with Fanny for LAL Art, and enjoyed being an artist with more free time. This is bliss!
CA: Does the triviality of life once make you give up?
Lapin: The opposite! It pushes me to make the ordinary, extraordinary.
CA: Let’s think a little further. I remember you said in an interview that when you were a child, you liked to look around for things that could stimulate your creative desire. Your description reminds me of Alice. So I want to ask, what did your parents do? I’m curious about what kind of growing environment and parents can make you have such a fairy tale childhood experience, and continue to inspire your passion for treasure hunting.
Lapin: You asked a very professional but unusual question. I like it very much. Especially, I like that you associate me with Alice in Alice in Wonderland — — I guess we share a lot.
My parents are under-covered artists, but they don’t even know it — they don’t like the term Artist, they find it too mondain and would not feel at ease. But they always valued craft and handmade creations. For Christmas, we would spend an afternoon crafting our own Christmas decorations for example. My mum is a master in Traditional Lace Art and my dad is a great watercolourist — they both collaborate to create paintings and pieces of crafts. You would be amazed.
I had a very quiet childhood and always been a kid with LOADS of imagination. With my best friend, we were in our own world, and rarely played with the other kids. We usually invented our own games and play.
And I lived on the seaside — this is very inspiring when you’re a kid. Sea shells, sands, seaweeds, the sound of the waves, the sky reflecting in the sea, the taste and the changing lights… all are here calling for an Art Performance. I would spend hours drawing in the sand and sorting the pebbles, feathers, washed out wood and seashells by colours. My Grand dad said that he admired my way of creating with nothing.
CA: Will the teacher who deliberately drops materials in the trash bin to inspire your creation also like your little creations? What kind of person is he?
Lapin: Yes, he likes them, too. At that time, as a child, my best friend and I would collect bits and pieces from our teachers’ bins during free time, and craft our little dolls, scenery, write books, tie knots, build paper canal locks, board castles — and all was a treat for our imagination. My teacher, once retired, admitted one day that his delight of the day was after school and once we were all back home, to lift the top of my desk (we had old fashioned school desks) and discover our new creation. And he would “throw away” in his bin, stuff to fuel our imagination — no surprise we had glue, old fountain pens, ink, books and other treasures in his bin!!!
He was an old man, and he took his retirement as a head teacher at the end of my scholarship in our primary school. With a white beard, and his usual navy jumper, he looked like a Sailor. He always had fantastic stories about his own childhood in Saint-Malo, in Brittany, France. And he would laugh out loud, as it was always funny. He was also kind of strict in a way, you could not fool him. And he knew my dad really well, so I knew that the punishment would be doubled if I were to not behave. But I was a quiet girl, learning as much as I could.
At the end of Primary school, he wrote in my educational file that I was, in my very own way, and outside any cursus, highly smart and he hoped that it would be treasured. I guessed it has been missed by the rest of my teachers in later years LOL
CA: Besides him, has anyone else enlightened or influenced you?
Lapin: I think I would say no none — because I think creativity and inspiration don’t need to be obtained from others. But I have loads of admiration for my fellow cryptoartists as Kristy Glas, Abysms, Yely, Dominique Czeredinov, Mighty Moose, Ruben Alexander, Pointshark, Emma Vauloup, Orabel, Daniella Doodle, Hermine Bourdin, Angie Taylor and many more
Other artists from IRL, I love Cecile Hudrissier (Illustrator), Mariko Kosumoto (Jewelry) and Dvorak and Smetana (Music) and Emilie Simon (Music — I get inspiration from non related Art, in the traditional way — I will feel inspired and in connect with any sort of art that brings sparkles in my bubble, and find in a way, a weird sort of connection.
And my ultimate inspirations is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “Le Petit Prince” and Jules Verne — I have a fascination for the imaginary science related monster.
CA: After the old gentleman, have you received any professional painting training, such as a professional art school?
Lapin: I did a 2 year education in Art at School. And fun fact is that the 1st year is Art History and 2nd year is Art project (that you have to present to a jury). Because I hate being influenced (don’t ask me why) and I had very little knowledge of Art History (we spent all our weekends outdoor, on the seaside, and I come from a small town where they were no Art Museums), I have asked my Art Teacher to do an experiment and to swap the 2 years — so I could start my Art Project and I would do Art History the 2nd year — and she accepted the deal. My Art Teacher was as curious as I was about what it would result too.
So I chose a theme: Dream. And I started creating and researching about the mechanism of Dream — but I never researched artists, instead I studied Freud and Baudelaire. And then I created a 3D sculpture. The year after I studied Art History and I was astonished to realise that my works could be part of the Symbolism Art Movement, like Miro and I found a lot of similarities.
I went in front of the jury and got the congratulations with the highest score possible.
My Art teacher was doing all so I could join Les Beaux Arts (French Art School), but with my parents, we were too worried I could not make a living from it, so I went for a business curriculum for the next 5 years. I was the first one from my extended family to access higher education.
CA: You have also used other media and created sculptures, but why do you have a special thing for watercolor?
Lapin: I think it has something to do with my father. He is a watercolourist, so I think this is where I got the inspiration from, and I love how soft it looks, how the water stretches on the paper, and how the colours blend gently together. I love how it can melt and create soft transitions between pigments. I feel like a chemist playing blending colours.
Watercolour does not allow any mistake, but this is my favorite exercise actually: composing from mistakes and heading to the unknown.
But also being a mum with young kids, watercolour is so easy to do when you have only a few minutes in front of you. It is mess free and does not require any storage or installation. So when time allows, during a nap of the kids etc — I can start painting in a blink of an eye.
And I used to work a lot with chalk and pastels (dry and oil) and I was thinking about it a lot recently — I have to find it back at my parents’ place.
CA: Before the “Lapin Mignon” project, have you created any other series?
Lapin: Yes，I did few projects and few local exhibitions. But I struggled to find the right audience between art and craft fairs. I struggled to find a permanent exhibitions centre in my local town, and the idea to pay an Art gallery was just too much. So I did mainly some pieces of Artworks for friends and Family and a few Art commissions. I did a lot of commission for small art to decorate the kids bedroom. It was a lot of naive ink drawing with some collage. Like drawing flowers or apples, where I would create a little lady bud in 3D to stick on it.
I was also part of an online gallery, Collecting Art — where I used to sell few of my small creations.
CA: When we started the interview, you introduced that Lapin Mignon is lovely rabbit in French. Why did you choose the image of rabbit?
Lapin：I live in the UK but my homeland is in France — Cats, Dogs and ferrets can not cross the borders easily, they require a vet’s certificate and passports. So I was longing to have a pet, so the choice was rather limited. We went for the first year for a Hamster, but it died very shortly despite a happy life — I was so sad. So we went for a longer option — the rabbit. And I fell in love. Since we had 3 rabbits. I was making fun of a friend, Louis, pretending he was the uncle of the rabbit. (He really questions how people can get crazy about pets, like I was with my rabbits) and I kept saying to my Louis “ See how cute (mignon) he is!” — This is how I started to think about Lapin Mignon.
CA：Besides, I think the rabbit referred to by “Lapin Mignon” has something to do with the rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Roaming. Whether it’s subjective or subconscious，doesn’t it？
Lapin: In a lot of ways, indeed, it does — even though this is a pure happy accident. There is an idea of Wonderland, Escape, Childhood dream and… falling to rabbit hole with NFTs.
CA: Many plants, marine organisms, microorganisms, etc. often appear in your paintings. They deviate from the conventional growth pattern: plants can move and crawl by themselves, marine organisms grow outside the ocean, and microorganisms live freely like small insects … everything is harmonious and beautiful. What is this assumption from?
Lapin：Usually, when I draw I have no idea what I am about to draw. I keep myself in what we call the “Automatic Mode”. I leave my hand drawing what brings me joy in the action of drawing — hence the lace of detailed drawing, and tiny details. One I start to trace, shapes start to appear, and like clouds in the sky, my imagination is triggered and it becomes alive. I will often add 2 eyes to bring them to life, and leave the audience to create the narrative, and make the seed for an unusual story. I like overwhelming my artworks with details, so everyone will create their own fairy tale.
CA: So every creature in your picture has a pair of big bright eyes because you want them to look cute？
Lapin：First, I had no idea why I was obsessed with drawing big googly eyes. But the more I introspect myself the more I find the keys to that.
Firstly I used to draw a lot of mangas when I was a child or teenager, like loads of Sailor Moon — and manga characters have extravagant HUGE eyes — this is where all their emotions are expressed in an exaggerated manner.
Then it has 2 white dots, because — only one would only signal the eyes, as a function to see. Two dots augment the eyes with emotion, and in my Mignon case, they express some fragility and some cuteness.
Finally, psychologists did discover that one of the reasons babies have disproportionately big eyes is to inspire a strong relationship of protection and inspire care and love. My Mignons with their googly eyes — and you just want to hug them, and take care of them. I create a relationship of love and care between the characters and the collectors, and in a way, they are living their own little life in their Universe, the Mignonverse.
CA: You would also write some children’s fairy tales, right? Is this part of your creation? Is it related to your watercolors?
Lapin：Before Cryptoart I did write a lot. And before my 5-year-old was born, I wrote him a few stories and a fairy tale with a Rabbit and a Little knight. One day I should think of tokenizing them.
Also, in October 2020, I did illustration for Anonymous Nobody Children “Humble Bee Bumble Bee & The Impossible Flight” which was one of the very first litterature minted on the blockchain.
But in general, as mentioned above, all my work should seed an inner narrative to the viewer. The story building is triggered in the viewers’ imagination.
CA: Like Arthur Mignon，dose it a story come from your first kid?
Lapin: Yes, my 5-year-old kid is my greatest inspiration in this story.
CA: Undoubtedly, you are very good at watercolor, but it is a traditional medium compared with NFT art, how do you feel about digital painting?
Lapin: Ah, you are touching a nerve point. When I started NFT back in 2019, I really thought that I was the odd one as I was the only one doing watercolour and from the very few to do some physical artworks. It makes me feel like a weirdo but I was fascinated by my fellow artists’ artworks. So I did a few collaborations and I took the opportunity to ask a plethora of questions on softwares they were using, how difficult it was to use them as a newbie etc.
The Editional App had a digital software implemented in the app — this is where I started to play with the colours of my watercolour and tweak them.
Then I have been introduced to softwares like Polarr and ProCreate — and I treated myself a new iPad and got inspired to start easy animation (it reminded me when I did my play doh animation with a video cam of my dad… and little by little I started to master some digital functions and I feel massively proud about it because I am a good tech savvy person.
Now I am experiencing since September 2021 Generative Art — I love the idea that my watercolour can be messed up and augmented by randomized coding. But for that I need my partners in crime, CryptoKage and Tagachi to help on the tech side — I love exploring the Art of Possible with them.
Now the digital painting is really not (yet) my cup of tea. I love to feel the paper, the paint, the water, the ink — I feel in control.
I don’t have yet this grip on a screen and most of all, I don’t feel much pleasure working on a screen and holding a “pretend” pen!
I have a theory that pen and paper gives your imagination full freedom, when a screen and software, in an unwanted way, frame your creativity in the ways tools are designed — and even when I was a corporate worker, I value time when I locked my computer, take a notepad and go for a ideation session — I can tell you that it was a majestic way to think outside the box — I will always encourage my kids to get some screen detox time, especially when they are creating and need their imagination.
CA: You entered the NFT field in 2019. What do you think of NFT?
Lapin: Actually, In 2019，we were not even talking about NFT, but CryptoArt. The community was very small and we helped each other. Once the community starts to grow, I fear that this spirit would get diluted. But I guess the kernel is still there and has infused this spirit of community. It is the best social media community and I feel blessed to be part of it.
And I have been lucky enough to be part of communities like The Editional App Fam, the TrashArt Movement, The Cult Of CryptoArt, WOCA (Women Of CryptoArt), Enigma (cryptoartists collective) etc.
CA: As an artist engaged in traditional painting, how do you define NFT art?
Lapin: It’s just a media — the NFT is the authentication certificate of w digital Art — For me this is a protection of my IP.
CA: Do you run your own community? Or there is a team?
Lapin: I have my discord but it is very quiet between projects. My community is on Twitter. And I hate the idea and concept to “own” a community. I see it more like a mutual appreciation and they want to know more about Lapin Mignon.