The Paris Journal: Download the Free Preview

The Paris Journal, Obvious State Studio, Evan and Nichole Robertson

The Paris Journal is live in the App store!

We’ve already received a lot of wonderful feedback, and we’d like to thank you very much for that. Our main driver for the project was your experience. We wanted to deliver something that mimics what would catch your eye on a walk as closely as possible, so you could take a break and escape to the streets of Paris whenever you like.

Currently, The Paris Journal is available for iPad and iPhone. We are working on making it available for Kindle, Galaxy and Android.

Thank you so much for your comments and support. We really hope you enjoy the virtual escape.

The Paris Journal: The Story Behind The Stories

Posted by in Paris | 14 Comments

Montmartre, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

To provide a little background on how The Paris Journal came about, I wanted to share a little of the long process that lead us here, including a few failures along the way.

Although there are many things about this project that are breaking new ground for us, the aesthetic point of view behind it hasn’t changed since Nichole first started posting photos in 2009. The aim then, as it is now, was to take the viewer to Paris on a vicarious walk around the city.

While Nichole was shooting the Paris Color Project, I was with her every step of the way. Because of my background in film, I was thinking about video as a narrative vehicle, and how it could compliment the intimate details she was photographing to bring the viewer as close to Paris as possible.

The first foray into video was a series of test videos called “One Place, One Time,” shot around Montmartre and the Marais, and partially shared on the old blog at the end of 2009. The idea was to keep them unedited and un-hosted in order to create a direct, voyeuristic experience. The hope was that a series of these unedited, one-minute snapshots would cumulatively capture the essence of a neighborhood.

But the videos were, well, awful. By refusing to edit, they had no real point of view, and by being formulaic, they had no story. However they made it clear that if the videos were to create the sense of walking around a neighborhood, they would need to be:

1. Focused. You can’t capture the essence of a place by filming everything.

2. Chronological. 50 videos of 50 street corners don’t add up to a cohesive story of a neighborhood just because you shoot them the same way. You need to create a sense of time.

3. Local: If you want to deliver a human experience, think on a human scale. Go for a slow walk and see how much ground you really cover. It’s less than you think.

The real revelation happened about a year ago while working on a potential project about Paris Light for Chronicle Books. I realized that Nichole’s photography and my videos could work together to tell a simple, intimate story of a walk if they were actually structured like a walk – linear (morning to night) and local (where we walked during that time). Each book would only cover one neighborhood over the course of one day.

Along the way, there were many more experiments, including writing commentary as if it were an actual journal. In that case, we found that the more we editorialized, the more it became about our experience instead of yours. The story had to be exclusively visual.

Creating The Paris Journal was a very slow and sometimes frustrating process: Years of trial and error, seven trips, months of editing and compiling, and some pretty steep technological learning curves (apps!), but it was worth it. We are really thrilled with the final concept and with the first volume. 125 photos and 14 videos are integrated into a digital book that tells the story of one day in one Paris neighborhood, from morning to night. It’s a true labor of love, and we can’t wait to share it with you this Tuesday.

– Evan

The Paris Journal: Visual Stories of Paris Neighborhoods

The Paris Journal, Nichole Robertson, Evan Robertson, Obvious State

After many months, THIS is happening in two weeks.

Coming to iPads and iPhones May 14.

We can’t wait to show you more!

Bear Ceuse Album Artwork

Posted by in Illustration | 5 Comments

I knew I was going to like Cameron Matthews right away because his band’s name – Bear Ceuse – was completely improbable. I met with him and guitarist Adam Home in NYC to hear some tracks, and instantly loved the hard-hitting, smart fuzz-pop sound of his demos and ended up doing the artwork for the album. So I thought I would share the final work and the first two releases.




[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="80" iframe="true" /]


[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="80" iframe="true" /]

From an artistic standpoint, I love that everything about this band is a contradiction. First off, their name is a play on the term “berceuse,” a classical lullaby. And while their songs have a heathy dose of sweet, soothing pop melodies, they definitely bring the bear to it.

Cameron told me that the album name, Don Domestique, is about being the man of the house, and owning that responsibility. So aesthetically, I wanted to capture something solitary that was at once familiar and menacing. We joked about avoiding something silly – “no honey bears?” I asked. Cameron thought about it for a second and then replied, “well, if it was a particularly bad-ass honeybear, that could be cool.” I came up with the idea to draw a simple icon of a house, and then fill every crevice of it with a grizzly bear you can just make out. We played with what the bear may be holding – a broken guitar? a beehive? – and ultimately decided that since the main theme of Don Domestique was solitude, he is holding the door, removing the only way in – or out.

The full album will be released July 8th via Medical Records.

I’d love to hear what you think about the artwork, and of course the music.

Recorded at Seaside Lounge in Brooklyn, N.Y. | Engineered and mixed by Patrick Crecelius | Produced by Patrick Crecelius and Bear Ceuse | Mastered by Paul Gold at SALT | Written by CT Matthews | © Bear Ceuse 2012
Medical Records

Bear Ceuse on Facebook

Man With a (Fake) Piano?

Man with a Piano, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Man with a Piano, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Man with a Piano, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Man with a Piano, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Man with a Piano, Paris, Nichole Robertson

The Pont Saint-Louis is no stranger to entertainers. From a lone guitarist to jazz bands, there is usually something or someone to listen to should you want a place to pause and polish off your ice cream.

A few days ago, we were on our way back to our apartment and this gentleman was setting up for a show. Or so we thought. For the next ten minutes, he rolled the piano back and forth over the bridge, would pause, pose and start rolling again. He would sometimes stop and situate himself on the chair, position his fingers for playing, then jump up and move the piano ten to fifteen feet and do it again.

I looked around for a photographer or videographer, figuring perhaps it was a photo shoot. None in sight. So this goes on for about ten minutes. He never played, he never stopped moving and fidgeting.

Then after about the twentieth reposition, he picked up the (then clear to me) fake piano and carried it down to the Seine.


Laurent Dubois Cheese

Larent Dubois Cheese Shop Paris. Nichole Robertson

Laurent Dubois Cheese Shop Paris, Nichole Robertson

Laurent Dubois Cheese Shop Paris, Nichole Robertson

Laurent Dubois Cheese Shop Paris, Nichole Robertson

This cheese shop is right across from the apartment we’re renting on Rue Lagrange. All the cheeses we tasted were heavenly, but the goat cheese rolled in honey and pistachio was just insane.

Cat on a Leash, Stalking Two Ducks

Cat on a leash, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Cat on a leash, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Headlines like this don’t come along too often. I had to seize the opportunity.

Montmartre Reds

Paris Photography, Nichole Robertson

Paris Photography, Cafe Photo, Nichole Robertson

Paris Photography, Paris Typography, Nichole Robertson

Paris Photography, Coquelicot Montmartre, Nichole Robertson

Paris Photography, Nichole Robertson, Paris Cheese

Paris Photography, Nichole Robertson, Paris Graffiti

On our last trip to Paris, we completed a new project (more on that in a few weeks!), but I couldn’t help snapping a few reds for old time’s sake.

Paris in Color Notes

Paris in Color Notes, Nichole Robertson, Author of Paris in Color

Paris in Color Notes, Nichole Robertson, Author of Paris in Color

Paris in Color Notes, Nichole Robertson, Author of Paris in Color

Just a quick note to let you know that Paris in Color Notes are finally available in stores.

I collaborated with Chronicle Books on this companion set to the book last year, and I am very pleased with how they turned out. They are all occasion notes, including a quirky favorite for use as a get well card: the green pharmacie sign.

The box of 20 cards is available at Amazon, Chronicle Books, Paper Source, Papyrus, Powell’s Books and more.

Also, in case you missed it, I finally added signed copies of Paris in Color to the shop, here.

Emerson, Fitzgerald and Gide

Posted by in Illustration | 12 Comments

I had some time this week to complete several designs for the Illustrated Quotation Project, and would love to share them with you.


“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Emerson, Evan Robertson, Obvious State

The roaring twenties, when booze was illegal and dresses were flappy. I love this quotation from This Side of Paradise; it reminds me of the headlong intoxicated rush into mutual obsession, the kind of love that usually ends badly. Here, I’ve illustrated a flapper dress that transforms into a martini glass as it is unzipped.


“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson, Evan Robertson, Obvious State

I first read Emerson in high school, when cynicism was practically required. But with every year, I feel a stronger connection to his writing. After a long winter of indoor activities (ahem, sitting at my computer), Nichole and I have been looking forward to more outdoor time. I’m always recharged and awed by the stillness in the woods, and it makes me think of Emerson. In this illustration I wanted to explore nature as an animated, living thing, in this case the hill is also a buck hiding in plain sight.


“Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.” – André Gide

Gide, Evan Robertson, Obvious State

This André Gide quotation has always struck a chord with me, but I wasn’t sure how to visually represent what I think it articulates – that there is no shortcut to wisdom, and that the roundabout way is really the only way there, and that anyone who offers a shortcut is selling something. I take the phrase “find it” to be ironic, since the big questions are bigger than us. When you stop searching, you stop growing. I divided the illustration into two parts, the entire shape of a puzzle-piece-shaped question mark (“Believe those…”) and its severed tail, which now falsely resembles an exclamation point (“Doubt those”). In the end, I feel the quotation is actually quite positive, with a little warning, and I will be putting it on my wall as a reminder to keep investigating life.

I’d love to hear what you think of them! Prints here. 

Rue Cavallotti Art

Rue Cavallotti, Paris, Art

Rue Cavallotti, Paris, Art

Rue Cavallotti, Paris, Art, Nichole Robertson

Rue Cavallotti, Paris, Art, Nichole Robertson

Rye Cavallotti, Paris, Art, Nichole Robertson

A few weeks ago we spent a week in our friend Erica’s sweet studio apartment in Montmartre.

Rue Cavallotti is a just a few blocks away, and if you’re up at dawn or after closing time, you’re treated to an open air art gallery of sorts. Most of the shutters are painted in a 1920s/30s style and pay homage to the Montmartre lifestyle and popular spots of the time period.

Paris in Color: Signed Copies

Paris in Color, Signed Copies, Nichole Robertson

I’ve finally added signed copies of Paris in Color to the shop (don’t know why it took me so long). There’s no extra charge for the signing, and you can see the listing here.

Thanks to all of you, the book has sold over 35,000 copies worldwide and is an Amazon #1 bestseller. Thank you, Thank you! Your support and enthusiasm means so much.

- Nichole

Paris Rooftops

Paris Rooftop Photo, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

What makes Paris rooftops vistas so pleasing? Aesthetic regulation? A tightly controlled color palette of creamy whites, yellows, rust browns and grays? Is it the uniformity of design, which under any other circumstance would be boring?

Mont Tremblant

Mont Tremblant Village, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant Village, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant Village, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant, Altitude, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant Maple Taffy on Snow, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant Skiing, Evan Robertson, Obvious State

Mont Tremblant Village, Nichole Robertson

Mont Tremblant, Altitude, Nichole Robertson

We’re spending a week in Mont Tremblant for a little R+R, fresh air and skiing (well falling down for some of us).

It’s nice to step away from the computer and reconnect with nature.

Kooka Boora Café

Kooka Boora, Coffee, Paris, Nichole Robertson

Flavorful coffee. Fresh milk. Both a rarity in Paris, but staples at Kooka Boora. I’m thankful to Lindsey of Lost in Cheeseland for arranging a meet up here, as it became our go to spot for re-caffeination last week.

If you’re ever in Montmartre or the ninth arrondissement, hit up this spot and order a flat white.

Here are what some of our Paris friends and bloggers had to say about Kooka Boora:

David Lebovitz
Haven in Paris
Paris By Mouth

Kooka Boora Cafe
62 rue des Martyrs
Paris, France

Rue Lepic

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

Rue Lepic, Paris, Nichole Robertson, Obvious State

A mini tour of the north, more residential side of Rue Lepic. It was the first respite from the rain and cold in five days. If you’re willing to entertain a little fantasy, the green ivy and evergreens coupled with the sun trick you into thinking it’s spring.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens

Posted by in Illustration | 4 Comments

Charles Dickens Poster, Evan Robertson Obvious State

This is a favorite Dickens quote, and one that’s especially fitting for me today since I just returned from Paris – a place I visit, leave and revisit often. The design is based on a cobblestone street in Paris that has always fascinated me. Unlike other cobblestone streets, wihch typically follow a grid pattern or progressive arcs, this one appears to have been made by first laying out wandering paths that seem to stray every which way, then laying the rest of the stones to conform to the remaining space. The main paths generally head down the street, but hit a few dead ends along the way. I don’t think the builders intended anything metaphorical (I kind of imagine them drunk to be honest), but there it is. You wander to and from places, grope your way forward, and the rest of the details fit themselves to the random events that shape you. And then in hindsight, the toughest places and experiences become the most valuable.