Mayumi Otero is a French illustrator of children’s stories. Her drawings and etchings contain the playful, ironic, even gruesome sort of humour that can be found in web comics like The Perry Bible Fellowship – a welcome departure from the stiff, elaborate illustrations of old and the rainbow-coloured fluff in children’s books today.
Otero’s portfolio is roughly 50% black-and-white line drawings and 50% full-colour pieces in retro yellows and reds. The latter often feature children with narrow eyes, neat black hair, and impossibly yellow skin, à la Chinese ads and propaganda of the early 1900s. Many of Otero’s children, regardless of skin colour, encounter large Asian beasts (mostly tigers) and monsters (see “La Coupure”, in which an onion-man attacks the boy who peeled him).
While she draws heavily from Chinese and Japanese folklore and old product labels (great examples in her blog), Otero translates the elements into a surreal style that’s truly her own. And despite the nod to fairytales, there is nothing standard or cutesy about Otero’s work. Her stories won’t make kids feel warm inside or teach them a moral. Unless the moral is “Don’t peel onions” or “Don’t chop off cats’ heads” or “Tigers will get you”.
Otero also co-founded Editions Icinori, an illustration and publishing project, with Raphael Urwiller. Both studied at Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg.