- François PlaceIllustrator–France
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Born on April 26, 1957, in Ezanville (France), François Place studied at L'École des Arts et Industries Graphiques Estienne, a school of art design, then worked as an illustrator for advertisement companies before moving on to illustrating children books. In 1983, he illustrated his first children's books, novels of La Comtesse de Ségur. But his talent revealed itself in 1986, when he illustrated non-fiction books like Le Livre de la découverte du monde by Bernard Planche, published by Gallimard jeunesse. François Place started to write his own books that he illustrated himself and, in 1992, created Les Derniers géants (The Last Giants), published by Casterman. The book was a huge success, won several prizes, and changed the way book professionals consider illustrated books for children and young adults. The three volumes of L'Atlas des géographes d'Orbae (A Voyage of Discovery), an atlas of twenty-six imaginary countries based on the letters of the alphabet, were published between 1996 and 2000 and tackled the frontier between fiction and non-fiction books. In 2010, François Place published his first novel, La Douane volante, thus adding a new dimension to his work. His work speaks of travels to faraway lands, discoveries, encounters... François Place's imagination and creativity are nourished by all the books he reads, and most of his travels are imaginary ones.
Since 1985, François Place has been creating a large body of work as an illustrator and author, work which is special and unique. He has been nicknamed the "bedroom traveler" or sometimes "the architect of the imagination"; through his books, he has created a map of the imaginary that transports the reader to faraway places, real and dreamed of, exploring the differences of human society through time and space. And yet as he often admits, he has not traveled widely. It is with books, maps, atlases, and engravings from all periods that he feeds his abundant imagination and cultivates his knowledge to produce works that have a power—with meticulous drawings and an impeccable writing.
François Place does not allow himself to be limited by categorization, which is what gives him much of his power and makes his work. His work is characterized by a movement between documentary and fiction, offering the reader a fascinating view of historical and geographical realities and imaginary worlds. Taking a delight in crossing boundaries, he moves constantly from fantasy to reality. The encyclopaedic approach gives way to a fiction of worlds invented and reinvented. [End Page 51]