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A conversation with Herve Tullet, author of Press Here

In conversation with French artist, Herve Tullet, author of the innovative picture book, Press Here, winner of the Junior Design Awards 2012 Picture Book Of The Year

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What was the inspiration for your award-winning book Press Here?

Wow, it is so difficult to answer this question! I always try to create innovative books and Press Here is maybe the all-encompassing result of my previous projects: open, participative and interactive books for babies and adults reading them, trying to find what will happen when you turn the page! The inspiration inherently comes from all my sessions and interactions with so many children all over the word. I learn from them, they give me confidence in the fact that is not too difficult to trigger big imagination with a group of children that is fun and educational with such copious amounts of energy. 

What are the benefits and challenges of doing a book without words?

I wanted to try to "speak", and to play towards the eyes, and through them it's easier for me to create sensations for all the senses. I wanted children to discover how important books are to life, even before they can read words. I hope that they will discover how important books are to live…

I believe in a world of ideas that can be communicated through the eyes talking straight to the mind with as little words as possible, then the readers can add the words they want and create their own book, their own reading!

What is children's reaction to the book?

From my experience, children understand my books more than the adults! Fortunately Press Here has been a big success all over the world, but even still there's something quite astonishing to see children reacting more that the adults to a reading. Sometimes they sweep along and surprise the adults during a reading. It is here that a "dialogue" can develop between them through my books – and that is magical!

Why is the 'spot' or 'dot so alluring for artists (thinking of Damien Hirst and Yayoi Kusam, as well as yourself)?

I do not use dots in an aesthetic way.  From the beginning, I always worked with a low economy of material – scribbles, holes, stick figures, stickers,  dots, stains, splotches, primary colours and so on – it's often the visual vocabulary they use in their own drawings and so it s a vocabulary that can be understood by everyone. My first books were books with holes. Maybe the dots in Press Here are a kind the figurative representation of these holes.

A hole, a dot, a footprint? It' s always the same thing in my driving force: working, for the mind, trying to create surprises and magic stuff from nothing or the very little. Starting with three little dots was an interesting beginning for some readers to figure out everything! 

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