Attention to detail, a sense of humour, and certain originality are what the extraordinary art of Sylvain Mérot is. Born in France in 1976, the illustrator and artist studied industrial design in his home country and worked as a graphic designer in Paris and Lisbon before moving to Frankfurt. Today his creative home base is the small studio Galeria Pequena in Frankfurt's Nordend district. With his quirky illustrations, he reinterprets the familiar and inspires viewers to reflect.
In a little deep-dive Q&A, Sylvain tells us how he ended up in Germany, which artists have inspired him most and which cultural hotspots should be among your must-sees when in Frankfurt.
I was born in the French coastal city of Nantes. I first studied industrial design in my home country and learned a lot about technical drawings and graphic design. However, I quickly realised that my real passion lies much more in art and illustrations – already as a child, I was a huge comic fan. Besides, working in front of a screen was just not my cuppa tea.
After several jobs in France and Portugal, I decided to move to Germany to try my luck as an artist. Together with the jewellery designer Tanja Martinho Alves, whom I met in Lisbon, we moved into a small studio in Frankfurt, the Galeria Pequena, which is still our creative home base. The first few years were not particularly easy in a new city, with a new language and at the end of the month, money was tight sometimes. But meanwhile, I live happily with my wife and two children in Frankfurt, and couldn't imagine any other city as my home.
Even as a child, various comic artists inspired me, but at that time, I didn't think it could be a profession for me. A critical moment was my first exhibition. I still remember it vividly: a good friend offered me his restaurant to exhibit my art for one night. My first thought was, "Who cares about my illustrations?" But lo and behold, all the artworks found a new, happy owner that evening. And at that moment, I thought, "It is possible to live from this art - maybe". That gave me some extra motivation, and I decided to start my career as an artist.
I am a real nature lover. And I have a passion for good food. So maybe I would have become a chef - or a gardener ;).
"Every day is unique." Life is just too short. That's why I try to enjoy every day to the fullest.
Detail-mindedness. Transformation. Whimsicality.
I especially like it when something doesn't fit into the picture - these moments when you can't immediately discover everything at first glance. I also love to create something new from something presumably old. I am giving it a new and exciting meaning. So one day, I started collecting discarded objects on the streets of Frankfurt. At first, it was mainly pieces of wood, but later also gathered old paintings and canvases. I transformed them into new artworks by covering them with little comic-like figures. Every new work is like a game and so much fun. Like this, I found my particular style about 12 years ago. Meanwhile, my art can be found on many walls in Frankfurt flats.
The best place to see and buy my art is the Galeria Pequena in Frankfurt Nordend. Here you can also come by and commission individual illustrations whenever. My art is also sometimes part of various exhibitions or installations around Frankfurt. Just hop over to my social media channels, where you find the latest dates and all my current artworks.
The installation "The Field for the British Isles" by the English artist Antony Gormley left me utterly impressed. Imagine 35.000 little men made of terracotta looking at you from their big eyes.
I really like the many green spaces and parks in and around the city. But the Frankfurt art scene also has a lot to offer.
The Lohrberg. It's situated just outside Frankfurt. There you have a terrific view of the city, and you feel like you're in the countryside - surrounded by nature. The Lohrberg hillside is home to the last remaining vineyard within the city limits.
Even if Frankfurt is not widely known for its art, you can find some interesting cultural places. You might have to take a closer look, but there is a lot to see. The Städel School in Frankfurt keeps some artists in the city, and there is also an open day twice a year, where various art is exhibited there.
A popular meeting place for Frankfurt artists is the Kunstverein Familie Montez. There you will find smaller and more famous artists and different styles of creative works.
Moni Port's studio soundso. It's a beautiful studio in Frankfurt's Nordend where you can buy exciting art.
Also great is ATELIERFRANKFURT – Hessen's largest art centre at Frankfurt's Osthafen. The former warehouse is home to over 200 creative minds and offers an excellent, varied programme. One can find visual arts, artist talks, discussions and theories, culinary arts, music, dance, and literature here.
Frankfurt is also home to some excellent museums for art lovers: the Städel Museum, the German Film Museum and the Museum of Communication are among my favourites.