David Kimelman


May 10, 2012

Serge Seidlitz is a brilliant London based illustrator. His complex images are intricately drawn and conceptually rich. He’s also my oldest friend. We met in Soviet Moscow when we were about 5. . . or maybe 5 ½. Both of our fathers were working as journalists at the time. Serge lived with his mother in England during the school year, but he would spend summers with his dad in the U.S.S.R. Cold war Russia was pretty grim, but for us kids summertime was summertime. Serge and I never tired of exploring the city, playing games and finding trouble. We were pretty naughty, but no one ever got hurt. . . except for a few times.

After a few years, my family moved back to the U.S., and Serge’s father moved on to Hong Kong. We’ve kept in touch, but we’ve only seen each other a handful of times since we were kids. I visited London a few weeks ago and stayed with Serge and his girlfriend, Jane, in their East London flat. We had a blast and it was really great to catch up with him, meet Jane, and see his work in person.

I took these pictures of Serge in his flat, working on a print at a silkscreen studio, and sketching animals at the London Zoo.

What inspires your work, particularly your legions of characters?

I get very excited by travelling and seeing other cultures, I like to go to a new city and walk about, I recently walked round Moscow for days, i took hundreds of photos of everything i saw, I found it very inspiring. I guess this feeds back into my work, when i sit down and draw it all comes out.

How do you think having a multi-national upbringing has influenced your work?

I think growing up travelling around the world had an impact on the way I see things, my Dad used to collect art and so I was always surrounded by pictures.

I don’t remember your childhood drawings. What were they like?

As a child I would draw castles under siege and Star Wars inspired space battles, I drew my dream bedrooms and silly cartoons of my teachers & classmates.

What’s your process for approaching commissioned work?

The first thing I obviously do is read the brief and get to know what the client likes about my work, i’ll start by sending very rough concepts over to the client in order to get approval on the direction I want to take, once the client is happy I’ll start to go a bit further with the artwork… I jump alot between working on my mac and drawing on paper, I like to mix it up, so when i’m fed up with drawing i’ll use the computer and vice versa.

What’s your process for approaching personal work?

I scribble down ideas or email myself notes on my phone if something comes to mind, I pin them on my cork board and hopefully find something i can use them for.

What’s your favourite creature to draw?

I recently noticed alot of snakes in my work. I always seem to get a snake in there. Maybe it’s because i’m born in the chinese year of the snake?

What are you working on next?

I would really like to do a childrens picture book, I’ve been thinking about it alot and waiting for the right idea to come along. It’s an ambitious undertaking so the idea has to be just right. Watch this space!