Browsing children’s illustration online, I stumbled over the work of Manon Gauthier time and time again. She instantly caught my attention with her compelling and childlike collage style. Yet her subjects are anything but childlike. In her images she captures the important matters of childhood, addressing love, belonging, loneliness, loss, happiness, sadness… After viewing a string of her works, you start to be familiar with her imagery and charmed by the endearing and innocent looks of her little characters. This is not just cute, but beyond cute. This is not just beautiful in a decorative way, but beauty from within the subject matter itself. Her images are free from conventions of any kind and I find that so inspiring!
In an interview from 2009 (read the full text HERE) she tells that the secret behind the tender character renderings is that when working on a book she really finds herself INSIDE the characters to the point where she speaks their lines aloud and mimic their expressions. “It’s like my characters are staging a little theatre play”.
Manon Gauthier started as a graphic designer for many years. In 2006 she illustrated her first children’s book to be published in 2007, Ma maman du photomaton, by Guy Nadon. For this work she was a finalist for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards of Canada (illustration) and won the Prix Illustration Jeunesse 2007, the first of numerous nominations and prizes to come. She says she was actually an illustrator since childhood but life circumstances pushed her in other directions until one day she definitely decided that she should do what she really loved the most. During her years as a graphic designer she had seen many illustrators passing through her office and thought: “This is what I should do!” After discovering her passion for illustration she devoted herself to children’s illustration as well as leading art workshops for schoolchildren across Québec.
Manon calls herself an autodidact, meaning she never studied illustration per se but had to find her medium and way of working by trials and errors. She didn’t know how to use oil or acrylics and soon realized that acrylics were not for her so when starting her second book, Croque (2007), she used simple materials as wooden pencils and brown Kraft paper, which developed into her unique collage style. In the beginning publishers reproached her for having a limited colour palette – as children are known to love colours – but now her images are highly in demand in Canada, USA and Europe.
A new book, Tempête sur la savane, was released this February together with Michaël Escoffier and another one, Elle sera toujours là, by Thierry Lenain, will come in April!
I really love her images because I find them so dynamic and free of clichés and to find this way of drawing is something to strive for!
buy prints here
some earlier books bibliography
All copyrights of the pictures belong to the artist Manon Gauthier.