Making things and daily drawings. A studio visit at Pauline de Roussy de Sales New York Studio

The illustration art of French artist Pauline de Roussy de Sales has something poetic about it, which is no surprise as she comes from an artistic background of French poets and artists always living in NYC. Drawing and making things was always a daily task. Here is how she works.

Pauline de Roussy de Sales in her Manhattan apartment & studio in front of one of her dads paintings

IRMA: Tell us a bit about your artistic background
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: My parents are artists, so I grew up in a very creative home where I access to a range of art supplies belonging to my mom and dad, so I was free to draw or paint and I was encouraged to do so. I started drawing at a really young age on the floor of my dad’s studio, so I’ve always been drawing but in college, at Rhode Island school of Design, I did mostly copper etching which was still drawing but the element of metal as opposed to paper changed my line quality, it became very fine and tiny.

IRMA: How do you start with a drawing?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: I start working early in the morning. Sometimes I already have a scene in my mind that I want to get out on paper or something/someone I saw in the street. I never pencil out a sketch for a drawing first and I just work with watercolour. If I’m trying to get the perspective right for an interior space, I will occasionally use a yellow or light peach colour before I go over it in darker colours.

One of her latest watercolour drawings which has endless details just like all the beads and pearls she collects.

IRMA: What makes your studio special to you and do you have things in it that inspire you for your work?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: My studio is set up by the window in my apartment in Manhattan. I can look out the window and see someone dressed a certain way or walking a dog and that ends up in my drawings. I have a few collections of different things that inspire me, shells, beads, and resin objects which are all spread around my place.

IRMA: Do you change your studio from time to time?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: I change my apartment from time to time, mostly I rearrange furniture or some of my table objects, but my studio consists of a simple table, a desk lamp, two watercolour sets, and a jar of pens and brushes so it’s pretty concise.

She collects all things, like shells and makes her own ceramics, all these objects inspire her work and fulfil her life.

IRMA: Your art work has a poetic strength to it. One can get lost in your illustrations which have lots of detail. How do you built up your work, is it all planned, or does it come intuitional?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: I usually don’t really know what I’m going to draw until I dip my brush in the paint. I usually start telling myself a story about the drawing as I go along, a lot of my work depicts social gatherings, parties, dinners, vacations etc so it’s easy to start weaving a narrative into that.

IRMA: How often do you change your medium or is it always the same?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: When it comes to drawing, I just use watercolours and I haven’t switched that, it’s perfect for what I want to do. I do make jewellery, and ceramics. I like being able to control what I wear (jewellery-wise) and what I eat off of (ceramics-wise) by creating those things, it’s very liberating and that’s what I like most about it

Collection of beads, Pauline collects beads and shells the most

IRMA: Where do you go and find inspiration regarding visuals that still make people curious about your work?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: My work is about people, about interactions or little snippets of relatable quotidian things and as humans we just always like that kind of thing because it’s about us, we like things about us so it hasn’t gotten old . . . yet!

IRMA: What are your requirements for commission work?
PAULINE DE ROUSSY DE SALES: I don’t have many requirements, clients usually already have either a general idea or a very specific one and I try to translate whatever it is using my style. That process of collaborating in a sense makes what I do ever changing, sometimes fun, sometimes challenging and exciting.


Pauline de Roussy de Sales was born in New York City to two artist parents, both painters and poets. Her family is French, and she was raised in a bilingual home. She grew up in Chelsea, nestled in an artistic environment in the neighbourhood’s thriving gallery world. Pauline attended the private school, Convent of the Sacred Heart for all twelve years and went on to graduate from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in printmaking. She is now living and working in Manhattan as a freelance illustrator for designers, restaurants, hotels, private clients, and large and small companies.

Three sterling silver charms Pauline made by wax casting them. She generally makes jewellery just for herself but made and sold things to her friends