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Regulars / Bookshelf

Cheeky, French illustrator Cécile Dormeau shares her favourite books

We’ve featured Paris-based illustrator Cécile Dormeau numerous times for her ability to condense the trials and tribulations of adult life into nuanced gifs that always make us laugh. With a vibrant colour palette and wonderfully expressive characters, Cécile often explore themes of self-acceptance and body image with humour and wit.

Since becoming an illustrator full time, she has build up an impressive client list including The Sunday Times, Havas London, ASOS and Zeit campus. Last year Cécile was also commissioned by It’s Nice That’s sister agency Anyways to create a set of stickers for the launch of Google’s messaging app Allo, which epitomise her communicative and punchy style.

With such a continually joyful and clever portfolio of work, we asked Cécile to share the books that sit pride of place on her bookshelf. Much like her work, the books she’s chosen are funny, original and full of visual gold. With a mix of novels, comic books and magazines, get your peepers round these gems!

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Hara Kiri magazine

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Hara Kiri magazine

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Hara Kiri magazine

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Hara Kiri magazine

Hara Kiri magazine

Hara Kiri was a satirical magazine and father of Charlie Hebdo. Its slogan was: “dumb and nasty” – the goal was to laugh about absolutely everything, approaching taboo topics. They could make fun of advertising and criticise religion or politics. I was always amazed by this freedom they were putting in the pictures, which was very powerful, and always pushing the limits further. Most of the time when I look at the magazine’s covers I am laughing and disgusted at the same time. The black and absurd humour, which destroys established order in a extremely brutal way, always inspires me. 

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Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

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Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

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Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

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Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

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Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

Sempé: Marcellin Caillou

Many kids like me read Le Petit Nicolas by Sempé during their childhood. I loved Marcellin Caillou because I was shy and blushing often so I could totally relate to the character. I loved how Sempé can draw so tiny characters and putting so much expression in it. His timeless drawings are full of poetry and lightness. 

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Riad Sattouf: La Vie Secrète des Jeunes

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Riad Sattouf: La Vie Secrète des Jeunes

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Riad Sattouf: La Vie Secrète des Jeunes

Riad Sattouf: La Vie Secrète des Jeunes

I read a lot of comics as a teenager. I love Riad Sattouf and his book Secret Life of Young People, where he relates true stories he happened to see around him, in the street, or in the underground, is one of my favourites.

I always loved the sincerity of the artist through his observational eye, translating every story with a lot of emotion and humour, but still staying very impartial. What I love about his characters is how he will convey very precise details in a very simple way. You immediately get their personality – the way an arrogant woman moves her hand, the teeth of a teenager laughing… Through these details and their way of speaking, I can really imagine precisely the voice of the character in my head. 

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

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Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

Sophie Calle: Douleur exquise

I love how Sophie Calle’s very personal and intimate stories can speak to a lot of us through the universal aspects of them. After a painful breakup during a trip, she decided to ask people (friends and strangers): “When did you suffer the most?” to help her to heal herself and she relates these stories in the book. I like how she can put poetry in ordinary life and how she uses art as a therapy to “suffer less”. Confronting her personal story through anonymous stories creates a lot of empathy, which brings you to question also your own emotions. 

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Lisa Hanawalt: My Dirty Dumb Eyes

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Lisa Hanawalt: My Dirty Dumb Eyes

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Lisa Hanawalt: My Dirty Dumb Eyes

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Lisa Hanawalt: My Dirty Dumb Eyes

Lisa Hanawalt: My Dirty Dumb Eyes

This girl’s craziness is way too funny. Her absurd colourful watercolour drawings are so beautiful. Her illustrations always surprise me – how can they be so weird and hilarious at the same time?