In 2011, Jérémy Schneider and Violaine Orsoni met, fell in love, quit their jobs, and started the Parisian graphic design and illustration studio, Violaine & Jérémy. Here’s how it happened: After graduating from École Professionnelle Supérieure d’Arts graphiques et d’Architecture de la Ville de Paris (EPSAA) with a Master’s in graphic and digital design, Schneider landed a job as an art director at advertising agency Konbini, where Orsoni worked as production manager. At the time, she had been with the agency for four years and was ready for a change. And even from the start, Schneider knew that ultimately, he wasn’t interested in art directing at any agency beside his own.

After working together for just six months, Schneider and Orsoni left and founded their own studio on little more than hope and some chutzpah. With no clients to speak of and an almost non-existent network, they somehow managed to find enough work to get by and build their portfolio, project by project. Each job, no matter how small, became an opportunity to grow their studio and hone the illustrative drawing style and minimal, elegant typography that Violaine & Jérémy are known for.

Now, Schneider and Orsoni can be even more selective than they were when they first started out, and have built a roster of thoughtful and exceptionally well-executed work in art direction, illustration, graphic identity, pattern design, web design, and editorial design for fashion brands (AMI Paris, FrenchTrotters, Le Coq Sportif, La Commune de Paris), cultural institutions (National Orchestra of Lorraine, Amnesty International), print publications (INfluencia, Le Fooding, La Villa Méditerrannée, l’ADN), and music labels (Ekler’o’shock).

Schneider’s black-and-white illustrations, which draw upon influences that date back to Caravaggio, Ingres, and Ernest Pignon-Ernest, are perhaps the most distinctive element in their body of work. Many of his characters come straight out of French history books or works by Nietzsche, Fourier, or Schopenhauer—often with added nuances and eccentric wardrobes to help tell their stories. Drawn in felt pen, black chalk, or colored pencil, the illustrations are as meticulous as they are expressive.

But these illustrations are far more than mere ornamentation; they’re at the heart of what Violaine & Jérémy do. Each project begins with and revolves around a unique drawing. In addition to some of our favorites (above), take a moment to peruse their full body of work, and keep an eye out (or peeled here) for their upcoming projects.