Armel Gaulme, The BESTiary

Amusing animals

Like many, I grew up with Beatrix Potter’s speech-endowed bestiary, Puss in Boots and the Fantastic Mister Fox, and by the tender age of seven I was on the lookout for every rerun of Wolfgang Reitherman movies at Christmastime, one of the “Nine Old Men” from Disney Animation Studios.

Since then I’ve been in awe of artists who have transposed the delightful expressions of their fellow man onto animal faces, not least Charles Le Brun, J.J. Grandville, Heinrich Kley and Benjamin Rabier.

When thinking about these talking animals, that captivated me when I was a child, I remember realistic, plausible creatures, with genuine faces and authentic expressions. They were characters I would have loved to meet, in contrast to the stylized, exaggerated caricatures you sometimes come across in contemporary character design.

Years later, I started sketching these sorts of “animals” (if you can call them that?) out of sheer amusement and many were created thanks to my children  asking me to draw for their entertainment.

My greatest joy would be for readers, in turn, to wonder, chuckle and be entertained by the characters gathered here.

-Armel Gaulme

Foreword by John HOWE !

In an age where a few strands of DNA separate us from the humblest of creatures, in an age where we question our place, inherited from the time we gave names to all the animals, Armel Gaulme’s Bestiary is a salutary exercise where deft acuity of spirit and pencil line are displayed in equal measure.

Giambattista della Porta, Charles le Brun, Heinrich Kley, Arthur Rackham, and Walt Disney have all questioned and blurred the line that separates man from beast.

As wise as an owl, as strong as an ox – the virtues that we lend to animals and to which we aspire, can we accept them without muzzling those that do less honor to human nature, those that animals ignore without thinking?

This is a book created with sensitivity, razor-sharp observation and a lively dose of humor. More than a sketchbook, it is a mirror which we would be well advised to contemplate long and carefully – as we might just get a clearer picture of ourselves.

-John Howe

(John Howe is a Canadian illustrator, mainly known for his work as artistic director on The Lord of the Rings’ and The Hobbit’s trilogies, by Peter Jackson. He also published numerous books with Gallimard-Jeunesse, Nathan, Grasset Jeunesse, Casterman, Bayard…)

Armel Gaulme, The BESTiary

Born in 1981, Armel Gaulme graduated from Penninghen art school (Académie Julian) in Paris, where he still teaches drawing and perspective. His sketchbook work is heavily influenced by by Alan Lee, John Howe and European illustrators of the 1900’s.

After his studies, he illustrated various children’s books with Adam Biro publishing (“Le Baron Perché” imprint, under the supervision of Maylis de Kerangal), then worked with other publishers such as Casterman and Bayard before moving into audiovisual production, video games, animation and advertising, whee he produced numerous preproduction drawings and matte paintings. At the same time, he started teaching in various art schools and launched his own workshop.

In 2014, weary of the digital illustration world, he illustrated Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King in the form of a watercolor notebook. His next project is an anthology of sketches inspired by several fantastical short stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

“There are some illustrators who just have to be published.
Armel Gaulme is clearly one of them.”

-JC Caurette


  • Hardcover

  • 112 pages

  • Color / Black & White

  • Foreword by John HOWE

  • Languages: English and French

  • Dimensions: 13 x 21 cm

  • ISBN: 9791096315079

  • Price: 15€


Available on or at your favorite bookstore 🙂


This book was created with the financial help of the Grand Est regional council and the Regional Office of Cultural Affairs Grand Est.