Author Marie-Hélène Versini and illustrator Vincent Boudgourd tell us about their process of working together on their wonderful new picture book, Monsters Never Get Haircuts.
There’s nothing like laughter to defuse children’s worries. In the case of the monsters, I decided to ridicule them and use an offbeat, slightly absurd style to create astonishment. This seems to me to be more effective than a serious, frontal approach to the problem, whatever the subject.
Marie-Hélène Versini and I have a long history together. For the past 20 years, we’ve been working together: we’d think up a concept together, then she’d have the words and I’d have the pictures. That’s how we came up with this book about monsters.
In this album, we tried to downplay the existence of monsters with humour, to calm the night-time anxieties of the youngest children.
Monsters Never Get Haircuts is a sequenced album featuring a gallery of monsters in everyday reality, providing absurd proof of their non-existence.
Marie-Hélène Versini is an editor and author. As for me, I’m an art director and illustrator for the press, children’s publishing and advertising.
In each project, my primary mission is to extract the simplest image, with the most accurate and expressive idea, to best illustrate a subject.
Whenever possible, and if the subject allows, I like to convey a message with humour. This can take the form of a visual gag, a caricature or a simple facial expression.
It’s in this way that I hope to be light-hearted, profound and impertinent all at once. To achieve this, the technique used is of great importance: it must serve the subject while taking into account the printing method.
I love drawing on paper with gouache, oil, ink and pencil, but for the past ten years or so, I’ve also been drawing on a tablet. Whatever the medium, it has to resemble the pencil line.
The interplay of materials is very important, and I like lively drawings. That’s why, for this album, I chose to mix oil paint and pencil. Their juxtaposition creates very organic materials and textures, thanks to the oil paint for the monsters’ bodies, and nervous, more precise, expressive details with the pencil, drawn as an overprint on the paint.
This album had been in the cards for many years, and it was thanks to Gallimard Jeunesse, who fell in love with it, that it saw the light of day. We’d like to thank them once again for believing in this book.
About Monsters Never Get Haircuts:
This funny and quirky picture book celebrates children’s imagination.
The narrator of this book knows exactly what monsters are like: they never brush their hair or go to the dentist; they don’t wear glasses or play the piano or put on their shoes . . . Monsters don’t know they are monsters. They don’t do this and they don’t do that, and do you know why? Because monsters don’t exist!
Order your copy online here.
Marie-Hélène Versini is a former journalist, who currently works as a copywriter in advertising. She likes the sea, Italy, animals, plastic arts, clothes (with an obsession for shoes), books, talking nonsense, and making children laugh. She now lives in Rennes, France.
Vincent Boudgourd is the art director at a publicity agency. He enjoys posters and illustrations from the 1950s through the 1970s, traveling, waves, wide-open spaces, and meat and potatoes. He lives in Rennes, France.