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Alex & Marine: ink, nature and biking

Alexandre Orvain, a rider and amazing illustrator, came on a motorcycle tour with us in Ladakh. In this post, this "wall tattooist" introduces us to his fantasy world reminiscent of a wild bestiary.
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Alex & Marine: ink, nature and biking

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm an illustrator and I've been working with Marine Montagnier for 8 years. Together, we founded the A&M collective. We create large-scale wall murals using a technique very similar to tattooing.

What's the story behind Alex & Marine?

I first met Marine at secondary school, and then we crossed paths again when we started at Esag Penninghen, a graphic design school in Paris. I don't think we were destined to work together or anything like that, the opportunity came about spontaneously later on. One day, when we were both in my studio drawing on the walls and we had the idea of combining our two artistic skills to create large-scale nature-related murals.

How would you describe your work and what's your signature style?

We have different sensibilities but we have found harmony in our designs. We do have the same style, however, and we often draw on the same pieces and are not able to pick out who drew what when we've finished. In true street art style, we produce unique pieces on different media. You could say that they are like tattoos that personalise spaces, such as a hotels, restaurants, designer brand shops or even private homes. We always try to include elements of nature and fantasy, often in an urban environment with animals, plants and mythological characters.

We've seen that you've "tattooed" helmets. Do you often work in the world of motorcycles?

We’ve only done it a couple of times. Biking is something that we love and we enjoy diversifying our pastimes. John, the cofounder of 4h10, is a close friend of ours and he asked us to customise his helmet and motorbike. We called it the "Midnight Phoenix" project. After that, Moto Guzzi asked us to work on a V7 for the Paris motorcycle fair and more recently, we did a helmet that was christened "Izanami". They were all random, unique, custom-made orders.

We understand you’re a rider and came with us on one of our motorcycle tours in Ladakh, could you tell us more about it?

I've always enjoyed biking as my dad used to take me when I was younger. Nowadays, he rides a Royal Enfield Continental GT and I ride a 1976 Honda CB 400F. I sometimes take it out for road trips across France and the last trip I did was in Ireland. Last August, I discovered both India and Royal Enfields for the first time.

How was your first motorcycle tour in Ladakh and your first Royal Enfield experience?

I already knew about this incredible make. Anyone who is the slightest bit interested in biking knows that the Royal Enfield is a legend! I found it easy to ride, especially as couple with my wife. At first, we struggled to imagine that this beautiful classic motorcycle could adventure onto the roads of Ladakh but in the end, we realised you can take it anywhere. It's a real robust piece of machinery! We absolutely loved the group dynamic on the tour. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and we quickly hit it off with our leader Deepak. In fact, he came to France a few months ago and we met up and took him on a motorcycle road trip across Belgium, Brittany and Paris.

What projects do Alex & Marine have in the pipeline?

We are going to decorate a coworking space with a mural. We would also like to create a series of wallpapers so that our creations are more accessible. We recently decided to add colour to our work, so that was a big change for us! I would like to dabble with mosaics, change techniques and play around with colours so we can create different types of murals. We are also going to tattoo Rémi Chapeaublanc's motorbike, a photographer who is currently travelling from Cambodia to France by motorbike.

Any travel plans?

Yes, I would love to get away soon! I wouldn't mind doing some motorcycle touring across Peru or try out a Mongolia motorcycle trip.
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Alex & Marine: ink, nature and biking
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