The World of Bright Illustrator, Sebastien Braun
Each month we like to give you an insight into the lives of our illustrators – what inspires them, their style and technique and how they decided on a creative career. I was very lucky to catch up with Sebastien Braun, an artist with an incredibly diverse style who is always a pleasure to work with.
“Seb is a true creative genius. He works in such a unique way with an ever evolving style. He is always so humble and quite unaware of his brilliance. His books have been made into television shows and his work ethic and style have remained consistent over decades of publishing. He is, and continues to be timeless”
Vicki Willden-Lebrecht, Bright Founder and MD
You studied fine art, and I wondered if you’d be happy to share any photos of your work from then? Or do you still make fine art now – I think you make sculptures – is this correct?
My paintings and sculptures are just another playground (l mix plasticine, old images, toys, paintings). – serendipity rules.
Above, Seb’s fine art installations
What made you decide to become a children’s illustrator?
I’ve always been drawing and making things since I was at at school, so becoming an illustrator was the chance to do what I most enjoy – as a proper job! It wasn’t super easy to switch from being a teacher in France to an illustrator in the UK, but thanks to faith and work I am getting there.
You work using digital and traditional methods – can you explain a bit about the process you use?
I started with traditional methods, super thin matte acrylic paint treated like water colours on stretched paper, but gradually I am learning to use digital technology. At the moment I am mixing both traditional and digital. I love the flexibility it gives.
Clockwise from top left: Seb’s collaboration with the prolific children’s writer, Allan Ahlberg, the latest of Seb’s books with The National Trust Look and Say What You See in the Countryside, a double page spread from the same book, the cover for Daddy Grizzle, by Mark Sperring and an illustration from the same title.
As an artist do you feel there comes a point where you can look at your work and say, yep, I did that and I like it? I ask this only because I’m sure I remember you once telling me that you are never quite satisfied with your work. Is this still the case, and is it a case of artistic temperament – always striving to be better?
I work really hard at delivering the best I can for every project. But once a book’s printed I can’t wait to move on and create something new and even better…
One of Bright Senior agent Arabella Stein‘s favourite illustrations by Seb Braun.
What advice would you give to budding illustrators?
Enjoy making beautiful images for children!
Do you have a favourite children’s author/illustrator – someone who inspired you? (it can be someone current, or someone from when you were a child)
Without a doubt I’d say Tomi Ungerer. Born In Strasbourg, France (like me), he left his hometown in the 60’s for New York and built his career there. He now lives in Ireland.
The beautifully stylised and recognisable illustrations of Tomi Ungerer
Growing up in France, did you have a favourite book as a little boy?
My mum used to read this Richard Scarry album again and again. I am not sure why it’s a German edition. I remember her once falling asleep while reading…!
- Richard Scarry – another hugely talented and memorable illustrator.
What brought you to live in the UK, and do you miss living in France?
My wife 🙂 I’ve been living here now for 16 years and my kids are definitely more British than French but I do pop back to France quite often to avoid homesickness. My Mum, bless her, still sends me back with a big pack up of cheese and traditional sausages.
A lot of the time creative people find they are good at being creative in all sorts of ways, and it can go hand in hand with subjects like music – OR they are good at music and maths or art and maths. Do you relate to any of these?
I am creative that’s for sure, I do creative tidying, creative cooking, and following some wise advice I had to stop doing “creative” accounting. But as far as maths is concerned, my neurones melt when they hear that word!
What kind of music do you like – and do you listen to anything whilst you work?
Thanks to internet I listen to France Culture, a bit like Radio 4 (but unfortunately without the comedy programmes).
At the moment I LOVE the little kid’s voice in Caetano Veloso’s Canto de Afoxe
Do you play a musical instrument?
I play the flute
What was the last book you read?
Jerusalem – Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle – it’s visually and narratively minimal extremely efficient.
Do you have a favourite film, and if so, why is it your favourite?
Mon Oncle de Jacques Tati, a very playful and witty depiction of modernity.
Did you find Bright or did Bright find you, and what do you like about working with an agency?
I was looking for an agent, you called me back, and my life was changed for the better. Thanks.
Thank you Seb! It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. If you’d like to work with Seb, please contact Senior agent Arabella Stein for more details.