Fabulous Noble: online portrait commissioning

Upload a photo, choose an artist and work together to create an artwork

Image: Charles Williams

“Fabulous Noble offers a new type of portrait for the ‘selfie’ generation,” says Pierre-André Ben Lassin who, along with Olivier Beau de Loménie, founded the online illustrated portrait commissioning site in 2012.

It certainly does. Rather than attending hours of sittings, all subjects need do is log on, pick one of the 24 illustrators currently on the site, upload three photographs and select the size and finish of the final work from the four available options. Prices for a single portrait start at £375. The process is not as impersonal as it sounds: there’s a comment box for clients to write a guideline brief and the artists always send composition sketches, first drafts and the final artwork for approval. The process takes two to three weeks on average and clients can order multiple copies.

Image: Martin Sati

It is a neat concept, but what makes Fabulous Noble really stand out is the quality of the artists. Ben Lassin has long been a fan of both contemporary illustration and portraiture and the all names on his books are internationally renowned. Elodie, for example, is a French illustrator, whose combination of contemporary and traditional techniques such as pointillism has won her prestigious commissions, including a campaign for Nina Ricci, while Alexandra Compain-Tissier’s super-realistic watercolour illustrations have been featured in the New York Times.

“We find the artists by reputation,” says Lassin. ‘It’s important that we give customers enough choice that they can find at least two or three illustrators whose style they like.”

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Many of Fabulous Noble’s clients come from the tech industries; people immersed in the digital world who are keen to own something handmade and personal. One recent commission, for example, was for a Facebook executive, while a group of friends that included a very senior Google employee (Fabulous Noble are nothing if not discreet) asked pop expressionist Robert Tirado to do a group portrait as a memento of an unforgettable holiday.

Illustration is having a high fashionmoment - its handmade authenticity chiming with the current popularity of all things craft. This site offers quick and easy access to some of the medium’s leading exponents. And because the artists work from photographs, the entire process can be done in secret, making a Fabulous Noble portrait a perfect gift idea.

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