A little peek inside the sketchbook and mind of artist, Kristie Vargo

Bonjour, Margaux!


Margaux! It's a fabulous name, n'est pas? I have loved it forever and when I had the inspiration to illustrate her, I knew it was perfect. Margaux was born out of a passion for Paris, a dream to live there since I was five,  and the joy of living life to its fullest. Here's the long and short of it. 

The long story (It's totally worth it, but if you must, jump ahead)

When I was 13 (I told you it was the long version), my French class was assigned pen pals to practice our new language skills and vice versa. It just so happened that the matching gods gave me a pen pal that was not only not French but lived in England! Cue the British invasion new wave music of the 80's. Needless to say, we never spoke French, but we did about everything else. She quickly became one of my best friends - my British sister. Way back when we were communicating, it was through snail mail...yes, at times we waited a good 2 weeks to get news from the other side of the ocean. Pure torture! Over the years, we remained in touch and our communication improved with technology. Although there were a few gaps (due to moving without said technology yet developed), we always thought of one another and continued our promise to remain close and one day meet in person.

Fast waaaaaay forward to the late fall (she would call it "autumn") of 2014, when the talk of that promise for someone to make the flight across the pond, started up again. It was I, the one so afraid of flying that it was avoided for 30+ years, who planned to take the plunge. Bad analogy. It was March 27, 2015 when I landed at Heathrow and saw her for the first time standing right there in front of me. Turns out not only do we look strikingly similar (we already knew that) but, we are the same height, have the same ringtone on our same phones and wake to the same alarm! Two weeks of pure fun was planned, and yes, Paris was on the itinerary. I won't bore you with all the details but it was the most amazing experience ever; I flew all by my lonesome over the big ocean, met my "oldest" friend and visited the city I've wanted to live in since I was five. Needless to say, I did not want to leave, so on the plane ride home I decided I must live there!

A moment that was 30+ years in the making...and seriously...the hair!

A moment that was 30+ years in the making...and seriously...the hair!

The short story (in case you jumped ahead)

One day, back in the USA, an image of Margaux just popped in my head while I was meditating. It was like, "Oh! Bonjour!" and I knew she was it. She and I were going to Paris. I immediately drew a quick sketch and then so many images began to swirl in my head. I had to jot them down for fear of losing them. It seemed I had a series - a perfect set of 12. Margaux, often wearing her iconic red beret (I have a matching one) and big sunglasses (those too), strolls the streets of Paris doing everything I want to do - riding her bike to the market for a fresh baguette, visiting the infamous bookstalls along the Seine, having a chocolat chaud outside a bistro in Montmartre. People who know me, recognize that she is me in Parisienne form, referred to in French as "ma soeur jumelle". I may never have played tennis, let alone attend Wimbledon, but I do love competition. And, regarding that glamorous masquerade ball, I'll need to go shopping for that perfect red dress, but Margaux will know the best place to find one. We both love those little boutiques! 

From first to final sketch of Margaux on her bike...there might be a one or 8 other versions not shown.

From first to final sketch of Margaux on her bike...there might be a one or 8 other versions not shown.

In all of my Margaux illustrations and paintings, you will find a book aptly titled, "La Joie de Vivre". It's how she, and I, choose to live life. Filling it with things that make one smile, laugh, sometimes cry and yell, but always with passion. What she keeps in her book are musings, drawings, photographs, and bits of things that are her personal "joie". Maybe one day, she'll share it with us but in the meantime, I've started one of my own. Hint hint, it has a lot of bits about Paris in there...and crayons. I love crayons.

With all my excitement, I decided to contact some luxury stationers in London and Paris - only the best for Margaux - and found a perfect match with Pemberly Fox! It was a mutual love at first sight. Before we knew it, she was being whisked away to London for her big debut. They have done such a fabulous job that I created a series featuring Margaux during the holidays - buying gifts, celebrating the new year, waiting for a "bisou" under the mistletoe, and falling asleep with her little pup, Peta, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. 

Margaux on the beaches of the Cote d'Azur exclusively available from  Pemberly Fox .

Margaux on the beaches of the Cote d'Azur exclusively available from Pemberly Fox.

Margaux has no plans to stop! The consummate traveler, she has a long list of places to visit, things to try for the first time and people to join in the adventure. You might meet some of her friends, but know that they are just as fabulous and chic as her. As Margaux would say, à bientôt (see you soon) and as I say, "joie de vivre"!

The only place to get these exclusive designs as greeting cards is with the amazing Pemberly Fox. Pop over there (no need to book a flight to London, just click on the link) to see all the images and purchase a set...or twelve! Everyone likes mail, so send more of it!

To read a fun Q and A I did with Pemberly Fox, check out this blog post!