How I Got Here: Illustrator Serge Bloch

The French illustrator and author talks to us about why he entered the world of illustration at just the right time and why humour is more important than ever

For an illustration style that seems wonderfully childlike, Serge Bloch’s work has proven popular in the serious business of newspaper publishing and the art world alike. The Paris-based artist has lent his simple yet quirky aesthetic to the likes of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and Libération, as well as magazines including Time, the New Yorker and Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Over the years, his charming, inky illustrations have also caught the attention of brands, and he’s found clients in everyone from Hermès to Petit Bateau, as well as Coca-Cola and Samsung.

It’s clear that Bloch’s work has universal appeal for both adults and children. His illustrations have appeared in over 300 books, including several of his own, such as Sam and his Dad and Reach for the Stars, and the Max et Lili series co-authored with Dominique de Saint-Mars. He previously served as art director at publishing house Bayard Jeunesse where he worked across children’s and teens literature.

From phone apps to the printed page, Bloch enjoys bringing his lighthearted touch to diverse mediums. At exhibitions, he liberally takes to the space with a paintbrush, as though the paint has dripped off the canvases on display and onto the walls. Earlier this year, he took the concept of immersion even further with his Boîtes à rire show at Centquatre in Paris. The installation brought together Bloch’s line drawings, augmented reality and a series of physical ‘boxes’ that people can hold their ear to, put their head into and even walk into, creating an immersive experience for both kids and parents.

He talks to us about how he got started in illustration, why he enjoys creating for children as much as he does adults, and the value of humour in life and work.

On his rural upbringing I was creative as a child. I had a wonderful life in the country when I was a child and it was good for my imagination. I grew up in the east of France in a small town called Colmar. It’s near the German border so it’s a nice place because it mixes German and French culture.

I was the only one [who was ‘creative’ in my family]. My brother was an engineer, my mother was a nurse, but she gave us the love of art. I always thought that everybody is creative, not only artists. I think that creativity is everywhere.

Top and above: Valentine’s Day illustrations for the New Yorker