The Q&A: Nathalie Dieterle

By Peggy Roalf   Monday January 9, 2017

Q: Originally from Africa , what are your favorite things about living and working in Montreuil, France?

A: I grew up in Cameroon, then my family moved to Valence in the South of France when I was six. Now I live in Montreuil. It is a city located in the outskirts of Paris.

Montreuil is an artistic hub; here we have numerous artists and cultural associations, It's also like a village, everyone knows each other and I have a lot of friends. Maybe it’s a bit like Brooklyn.

I love this intellectual and artistic effervescence. Also, Montreuil is only 10 min by metro from Paris so I can see all the interesting exhibitions.


Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: I have a lot of sketchbooks. With each project, I start a new sketchbook so that I can see how my ideas came about and how they have developed. I also have a lot of notebooks in which I write my stories because I am also an author.  I use tiny notebooks that fit in my pocket so I can always have one on me. I do not work very much on the computer at the moment; I like the feeling of brush on paper too much.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: My work day is punctuated by the radio, which is a very important element in my workspace. I listen to either broadcasts or music. This gives color and energy to my day. When I see one of my drawings later on, I can remember what I was listening to when I did it, it's quite magical.


Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: As I often do not work on computers but with inks, it's very important for me to stop working on a drawing at the right time.  You can hardly make changes on an ink drawing. I usually work on several drawings at the same time so I can go from one drawing to another and gain fresh perspective.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: My workshop is located in an old factory which houses many artists, so I have a lot of artistic exchanges. This greatly enriches my professional practice.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: I spent my early childhood in Africa [Cameroon] and I did not have many books as a child. I would read the Babar books by Jean de Brunhoff, which I liked very much. I think that these books have influenced my work.


Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: The last book I've enjoyed is Fault Lines by Nancy Huston.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: A brush and some ink.

Q: If you could spend an entire day away from work and deadlines, what would you do and where?

A: I would take a walk in the countryside, on the banks of a river. I grew up in the African bush and, now that I live in Paris, I miss Nature a lot.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art? 

A: I was much inspired by Tomi Ungerer.  His books are remarkable for the artwork as well as the stories he tells.  

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: A chocolate mousse. I run on chocolate! 

Nathalie Dieterlé is an author and illustrator living and working in Paris. She studied the graphic arts at the Penninghen school in Paris, and then specialized in illustration at L'École supérieure des arts décoratifs in Strasbourg, France. As an author-illustrator, she has had about sixty books published by a number of French publishing houses, including Kaleidoscope, Hachette, Gautier Languereau, Didier Jeunesse, Casterman, Nathan, Albin-michel, L'Elan vert among others.

There have been several joint publications of her work with foreign publishing houses: Orchards books in the United States, Carlsen and Forum in Denmark, Combel and Edelvives in Spain, Salami Editore in Italy, Patakis in Greece, Miseghy children’s press and Korea Piaget in Korea, Beijing and Ginkgo Book Co. in China, in Japan , Editora Scipione in Brazil.

She also does editorial illustrations for toy and postcard makers such as Nouvelles images.



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