Illustrating around the world… with Julie Mercier

This week we had the pleasure of interviewing children’s illustrator extraordinaire, Julie Mercier. You might remember her from the “Around the World” posters we featured on our blog a few months ago. Julie’s work is a testament to her wild imagination, as she goes from hanging out with the Maharadja in India to exploring dinosaurs in prehistoric times. Hailing from France and currently living in Montreal, she has illustrated books, magazines, and comic books. Julie loves working with children and organizes art workshops for them in schools. What an OMGartist!

My First Name: Julie

My Last Name: Mercier

My Job: Illustrator

My OMGchildren (Those are the children that matter the most in your life besides your children): I have a big family so: all my cousins, and my children’s friends…

My OMGfirst book that I illustrated was…“Zoo club”. It was my first project after finishing school: I wrote the story and I illustrated it! I had this idea to write about a group of penguins that came from the North Pole to Europe by plane!

My OMGfavorite project so far is…difficult to say because I love working on so many different subjects, with various styles and for any age! Among my favorites there is “Around the world”, “New York” because I love travelling, “A table” because I love food “Saperlipopette mène l’enquête” because I love Sherlock Holmes, “La tour de Léo,” Geko Toy’s catalogue because I love toys, Collective nursery rhymes…And the projects that I illustrate currently…

What made you decide to illustrate for children? I have always drawn- since I was a child I bothered my sister, asking her for ideas of what to draw! After that, I would draw during class in secret…I took comic book drawing lessons when I was nine years old. And my childhood friend, Chloé Cruchaudet, a comic artist, drew too, so it was a motivating force! After hesitating between becoming a veterinary surgeon or an architect, I finally chose my passion: drawing.  I studied at Emile Cohl School (a school for design in Lyon, France).

Your world map poster has been a hit. Did this inspiration come from your personal travels or somewhere else? I used some of my memories of travels to create the world map poster. I love to travel and now I live most of the time in Montreal. There are a lot of countries I still haven’t been to so I watched documentaries, checked out books from the library, etc. Research is one of my favorite parts of this job!

On your website you show several children’s workshops you have conducted. Which is your favorite one and why? My favorite is making a “cadavre exquis” (exquisite cadaver) or “méli mélo” (mish mash). It consists of drawing a character in three different steps. Someone draws the head and folds the paper to hide it. The second person draws the body and folds the paper again, and finally the last person draws the legs. When that’s done, you unfold the paper and you have a funny character.  Sometimes the result is fabulous! Most of the time it’s hilarious.

What tips can you give to OMGparents (Aunts, Uncles, godparents, etc.) for conducting “mini workshops” with their OMGchildren? You can try the “cadavre exquis” if you are with a group of children. But you can also do it with one child: you ask him to draw several characters on different pieces of paper and then cut out the head, chest and legs of each character. After, you can ask your child to make a funny character by putting all the parts together. You can complete the game and add funny elements like bow ties, hats, shoes…Children are so imaginative! You can ask them to use one of their stories and ask them to make a little book with it.

To see more of Julie’s amazing illustrations, check out her website and blog.

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