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 7th 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!