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The unexpected interview

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Kristiane Bernhard-Novotny, the CERN Courier associate editor,asking me if she could ``interview`` the tiny creatures at CERN.

I don't think that I can describe the joy that I felt that someone who was neither a close friend, nor a family member enjoyed these little creations.

I started doodling by accident about eight years ago now roughly, I had a long commute

to get to work in Orsay in the south west of Paris - hello RER B - one semester I colleague of mine asked me if I wanted to share a class with him. It was "Introduction to particle physics" for second year physics bachelor students. Previously, I tutored some students as a postdoc at EPFL but never taught in a class, so I thought why not.

To help me prepare, I bought a book called : "Syllabus: notes from an Accidental

Professor" by Lynda Barry.

A few days later I received the said book and realised it was a book for students in the

arts. The book had all kind of weird exercises. For example, drawing a car or batman in

two minutes, then one minutes, then thirty seconds, then five seconds. The book's main ideas are, not only to help students get out of their heads, but also to develop an artistic practice. Everything I love.

I started to do some of the exercises, which was quite relaxing. I was neither a student in the arts, nor in the academic sense, so there I felt no pressure. I was spontaneously

out of my head unlike every other topic in my life.

And this is how many train rides later, I had built a bunch of characters, Professor Petites Mains, the creatures, the fields, the music notes etc. Their only purpose was to

keep me company in dreadful meeting



Around 28 September 2021, my friend Francesco asked me whether I participate in the

Inktober challenge, an internet challenge where people post one drawing per day. I admitted that I didn`t have the bandwidth, nor the energy for it. But two days later, on 30 September around 22:30, I thought I will take the lazy path and just take pictures at CERN since I was recently based there and append the creatures to them.


This is how the "Tiny creatures at CERN" were born. I posted online one every day and

Francesco helped me by providing some pictures he took himself. My self-imposed

rule (I am so good at those) was to draw them in less than five minutes.

People seem to have enjoyed them and I certainly loved drawing them. A couple of people told me I should publish them in a book, but I thought nah, they say this just because they like me.


When I received Kristiane's email, the story completely changed. I realised that all these little creatures were all over the place in my notebooks and on the internet and they didn't have their own home. Thinking about it a bit more, I did not authorise myself to take these creations seriously. It appears that what I was missing was a sign or blessing of a person from a respected institution. It is odd that I needed this, especially since one a little cartoon that I carry around with me everywhere to give me courage says: "Authorisation not to ask permission". Yet somehow, I forgot to apply this to myself.

So dear Kristiane, thank you. I am so happy that I have now created a home for all these creations that provided me so much joy throughout of the years, after all they deserve a roof over their heads.



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