Lafayette artist Francis X Pavy and his wife, Cathi, are taking his art in a new direction with the launch of a wallpaper and textiles line from their new company, Pavy Art + Design.
The line, officially launching Tuesday, includes eight fabric patterns in two to three colorways each and seven wall coverings in one to three colorways each, printed with Louisiana-inspired imagery from Pavy’s body of work and previously unseen sketches.
The project has been nearly four years in the making, the couple said. In 2018, Cathi Pavy retired from BBR Creative, a Lafayette advertising agency she co-founded, and the couple took the transitional moment to re-evaluate what they wanted professionally and as a family.
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Cathi Pavy said after years of support from her husband while building her business, she saw an opportunity to put his art at the forefront and push it into new frontiers, while building a legacy company for their two children. For Francis, the new outing was an opportunity to bring an idea the couple had batted around for over 25 years – a home goods line – from concept to reality, he said.
“It’s always a gamble…You don’t know whether it’s going to be fruitful or not — but why not?” Francis Pavy said. “I’ve had like a hundred ideas but eventually this came around so many times that it’s time to try it and see what happens.”
The artist, whose career has spanned 40 years, said reinvention and trying new things is a key part of his process. Francis Pavy got his artistic start as a child watching Saturday morning drawing lessons on his family’s television and later attending classes in a local park, before exploring mediums such as photography, ceramics, glass work and printing, he said.
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“I try to keep asking questions and challenging myself. It’s just what comes about. I like to paint. I enjoy making imagery, so I’m always looking for other ideas, other venues to work in trying to expand what I do. I almost feel like it’s like a ball of wax I’m adding to, like it’s a cumulative effort,” he said. “It’s challenging myself to work outside the boundaries of what I’ve done before.”
Production of the home goods line began with painting, Francis Pavy said.
Each artwork was painted on a piece of canvas wrapped around a large tube, ensuring the repeating design connected seamlessly at each edge. Then, the paintings were photographed meticulously and moved into Photoshop for adjustments and stitching — where Francis worked to ensure the integrity of the colors, the translation of the paint strokes and sharpness of the pattern.
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The digital fine tuning took from 40 hours for some pieces to over 100 hours for others, he said.
Once completed, the digital files were sent to the couple’s manufacturer in Connecticut, which created strike offs, or samples of the printed fabric, for the couple to review. Each piece was sent back and forth for tweaks until completion, he said.
Selecting which prints to use for the first collection was a collaborative effort.
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Cathi Pavy said the duo would hold up a piece of cork board they fashioned into a frame to paintings in Francis’ studio, trying to home in on what icons and details would look best isolated into repeating prints. Francis Pavy said his wife also unearthed the inspiration for his favorite print of the collection, Tunica, while digging through sketchbooks of unused concepts.
The goal for each selection was to communicate the culture, history and spirit of south Louisiana, Cathi Pavy said.
“Everything is stamped with ‘Made with love from French Louisiana’ because one thing we’re trying to do is really elevate the brand of south Louisiana and share it with the rest of the world. We both truly believe that we have a culture that’s special. We just want to make sure that people get to understand what it is and hopefully experience it one day,” she said.
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Working as a husband-wife team, the duo has gotten to see each other and their work from a new perspective.
“We share the same values, which is critical to partnership, and work ethic. And also the vision of where we’re going. Sometimes we can get in the weeds because my background is marketing and his is art…it can be one of the areas we have the most friction, because he’s focused on maintaining the integrity of the artwork and I’m always trying to maintain focus on the customer and what they need and want, but I think those two things together are the perfect balance,” she said.
While a longtime dream, the experience has been challenging, she said.
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There was the learning curve of entering a new industry and understanding what it means to produce an appealing, high quality product for designers and how to capture their attention. Add to that the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused supply delays and starts and stops in the production process, and the last few years have been both exciting and scary, Cathi Pavy said.
The line of wallpapers and fabrics are available for purchase at the Pavy Art + Design website, but the couple said for now their primary focus is business-to-business sales, working with designers, design showrooms and fabric sales representatives to get their fabric into the market and into the hands of professionals in the interior design and decorating community.
For launch day Tuesday, the couple is hosting an open house for interior designers, architects and trade professionals from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Pavy Art + Design Studio at 100 East Vermilion Street, Cathi Pavy said.
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With the initial market push underway, the Pavys said they’re already looking ahead and thinking about next steps. Francis Pavy said he envisions fleshing out the existing collection with an expanded range of colorways in coming months, while also brainstorming what iconography might be ripe for use in a second collection.
Cathi Pavy said the long term possibilities for growing the business are endless; the marketing strategist said she’s partial to one day producing a line of dog beds, inspired by the family’s pugs, Otis and Lincoln.
For now, the couple is focused on growing business around their current products and excited to see how the products are translated into spaces.
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“The warmth of our home and the joy that we have in our home is what we want to bring to the homes and interiors of others,” Cathi Pavy said.
“I’m anticipating it’s going to be beautiful. I have no idea what people are going to do or how they’re going to combine the stuff. I’m anxious to see how it’s used and where it’s going to be used,” Francis Pavy said.