The French Illustrator Recently Won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award for Madame Eiffel
There’s a captivating simplicity in the work of French illustrator Csil. In her strictly two-dimensional drawings, she uses fine lines to invent cute characters adorned by intricate patterns and textures. Yesterday morning, Csil was honored at the New York Times headquarters building for her work on Little Gestalten’s Madame Eiffel. The awards ceremony celebrated the ten winners of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award and was hosted by Maria Russo, who edits the children’s books section of the New York Times. Join us in congratulating Csil on the well-deserved award and read our interview with the French illustrator below. Order Madame Eiffel from our online shop.
When and how did you begin to illustrate books for children?
I have been drawing since I was a kid but always kept my drawings to myself. After I took part in a workshop with Jean Solé in 2011, he gave me the confidence and desire to show my images. Everything went very quickly after that. My first book, Paul, written by Alice Brière Haquet, was published by Frimousse Editions in 2012.
How did you develop your minimalist yet evocative style?
I have never really thought about it… I just know that I like to imagine universes that I fill with strange characters and through which I weave color.
If you could illustrate a classic of children’s literature, what would you choose?
Alice in Wonderland or Little Red Riding Hood.
How would you describe the creative process between you and the author—or authors—with whom you work?
Projects may come from the wish to work with a certain author or otherwise may originate from an idea that either an author or I have. Then a lot of back and forth ensues as the idea develops and the project slowly takes shape!
Are there other illustrators that you particularly admire?
It is difficult to say because there are so many! I would say Květa Pacovská, Béatrice Alemagna, and Benjamin Chaud. They’re the ones who made me want to work in children’s publishing.
What inspires your work as an illustrator?
Everything that surrounds me is a source of inspiration, such as a drawing made by one of my children or a detail that might appear trivial like a lettuce leaf chewed by a snail.
What do you like most about the work of illustration?
Illustration helps me let go and loosen my grip… And escape from life in general. My illustration work magnifies my everyday life and helps me feel free.
What is your favorite illustration in Madame Eiffel?
My favorite is the last image in the book representing the Eiffel Tower’s shadow as the Eiffel couple’s eternal embrace.
Are there some inspirations that have particularly influenced your style?
Life itself is inspiring and greatly influences my style’s evolution… When you look closely around you, the sources of inspiration are everywhere. The key is to continue to look at the world through children’s eyes.
What are your future projects?
I am currently working on two children’s book projects with Thomas Scotto and Ghislaine Roman for Frimousse Editions, and a few more collaborations are also in progress!
Images © Csil