How was 2013 for Tomi Ungerer?

The 82-year-old writer and illustrator explains why 2013 was a vintage year for him
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Tomi Ungerer
Tomi Ungerer

As the New Year approaches, we're continuing to catch-up with a few of our authors and artists, including them Ferran Adrià, Roger Ballen and Bernhard Edmaier, to ask them how 2013 was for them: what were the things that inspired them, when were they at their most creative and what do they have planned for 2014. We'll be bringing you their answers - one a day - up until the new year. Go here to read our interview with Joel Meyerowitz, here for Martin Parr, here for Edmund de Waal.

 

Tomi Ungerer, Moon Man
Tomi Ungerer, Moon Man

Today it's the turn of Tomi Ungerer. Ever since we began publishing his wonderful books back in 2008, the French-born artist, writer and illustrator has often been characterised as "the most famous children's book author you've never heard of." But really, this sells Tomi rather short. Over the past six decades he has authored children's classics, iconic film posters, political cartoons, erotica, and touching works of autobiography. One might assume that, at the age of 82, he's slowing down a little. Yet as he told us over the phone from his home on the west coast of Ireland, if anything, 2013 has proved to be a vintage year.

From Fog Island by Tomi Ungerer
From Fog Island by Tomi Ungerer

What was the thing that inspired you most this year?

This year has been great. My drawings, sculpture and writing have all gone very well. I would say it has been my best year. I have been re-reading the classics this year, and I really enjoyed Samuel Pepys' diary this year. However, I also like the questions put to me by children in Philosophie Magazine, which I answer. They ask very penetrating questions, like "is god a man or a woman?" or "how can you learn to be a dad?" They're really stimulating.

What was your personal working highlight this year?

Professionally, I was very proud to learn that my book, Fog Island, won a place on the New York Times Book Review list of Ten Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2013. I am also glad to see the film adaptation of my children's book, Moon Man, and the documentary about my own life, Far Out Isn't Far Enough, reach wider audiences.

What can we expect from you in 2014?

It's a little two early to say, but I have two significant retrospectives coming up in the new year. They're still being finalised at the moment, so I can't say too much. I'll tell you more when I can.

 

Tomi Ungerer, Untitled (1970)
Tomi Ungerer, Untitled (1970)

Keen to find out more? Then read about Fog Island here, or buy it as an iBook here.


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