In Love with Sempé

I have been in love with the artwork of Jean-Jacques Sempé since I was fifteen, when I read the NICOLAS series (which he illustrated) for a high school French class.  Sempé is known in the U.S. for his iconic New Yorker covers, such as this one:

But in his home country of France, his illustrated books sell like hotcakes. I collect his books, and have about thirty of them.

While living in Paris, I once attended a gallery showing of his work in the 6th arrondissement. When I finished touring the exhibit, I knew I absolutely wanted to buy his retrospective book.  Well, that book was mighty expensive, especially for a student like me.  It was the equivalent of $150 USD, but I took the plunge because I knew I’d cherish the book forever, even if it meant I’d have to subsist on baguettes and butter for a few weeks.  And I still cherish that book to this day, almost twenty years later.

Since I write picture books, I pay a lot of attention to illustrations. And I just love how Sempé captures tiny figures in a really big landscape/cityscape. His illustrations make me happy and hopeful, and he makes the world look full of charm and humor.

These are some wonderful illustrations by Sempé:

(I have a poster-size of the second one 😉

I’d love to meet Monsieur Sempé in person someday…a girl can dream! But for now, I’ll just admire his photo:

Do you have a favorite artist or illustrator?  I’d love to know!

3 Responses to “In Love with Sempé”

  1. Marc

    Hi Helena !
    I Just discovered Sempé’s illustrations on postcards and I found them wonderful ! I read Le petit Nicolas when I was young and today I was happy to see that he also drew other things. You seem very passionate about Sempé’ s art. I would love that you tell me more about him and his art =)


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