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Alain Trez, a life of drawings and stories

The life story of Alain TREZ is one of an artist who has lived through the golden age of twentieth-century illustration and press cartooning. At the same time, he has been painting freely since the 60s. Artistes Actuels met him in his studio: at age 98, the artist is creative, sparkling with humor, and is planning to exhibit his “Monstrez”.

A talented child who draws all the time

A brilliant child from an intellectual background, he went fast, very fast, and pursued schooling and higher education to conform to the family line. But deep down, he always knew he wouldn’t have what he calls a “normal job”.

He grew up, in his own words, in a “strange little town”, Berck in the Pas-de-Calais. The seventh of eight children, his childhood was integrated into a school community: his parents had founded a secondary school in which his mother taught philosophy, Latin and Greek, while his father taught science, mathematics and chemistry.

In this studious academic environment, Alain Trez was always drawing. His talents as a cartoonist opened the door to press and advertising cartoons, which flourished after the war.

A first drawing for “L'écran français” and the "Prix de l'avenue Victor Hugo" launched his career as a cartoonist.

He met his future brother-in-law, Pierre Barlatier, director of the reference newspaper “L’écran français*”, who saw him drawing all the time and offered to publish one of his drawings.

* L’Écran français: weekly film magazine published from 1943 to 1952 under the leadership of the Comité de libération du cinéma français.

Meanwhile, he took part in a drawing competition organized by the shopkeepers on Avenue Victor Hugo in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. He wins the prize and buys his first suit!

From then on, his style and signature were to be found in numerous weekly and daily press titles, as well as in advertising: Paris-Match, Marie-Claire, La Maison de Marie-Claire, Elle, Pariscope and France-Soir for 27 years.

An exciting but challenging drawing life

Alain Trez has pursued an independent career with a wide range of exciting but demanding commitments.

As an illustrator, he worked with advertising agencies and cartoon scriptwriters. With his wife Denise, who also wrote, he published 15 children’s books in France, the United States and Japan. For many years, they also produced the “Dominique” newspaper for the Caisses d’Epargne savings bank, featuring games, comics, drawings and crossword puzzles.

But “illustrating means drawing for other people’s ideas. It’s frustrating”.

En tant que dessinateur d’actualité, il devait réaliser un dessin quotidien pour un journal. Cela signifiait chaque jour devoir identifier 10 ou 20 idées et tester plusieurs dessins, avec souvent des rectifications au dernier moment.

En contre-point de ces activités contraignantes, Alain TREZ se lance alors dans une peinture personnelle. En 1968, il expose ses créations rue Visconti à Paris. Dans les années 1990 et au début des années 2000, il a très régulièrement exposé en France et à l’étranger.


“I didn’t want to involve my parents in this adventure”.

His birth name is Alain Trédez. He decides to drop the intervocalic consonant to obtain Tréz.

The need to paint and create a personal universe

In 2006, Patrick Le Fur of Artension magazine published a book on his artistic work (éditions Iconofolio, collection Artension, ISBN 2-35237-008-6).

Alain Trez’s oeuvre is huge. Although many of his works have been sold or dispersed, his studio is nonetheless overflowing, and he draws and paints every day. In recent years, he has been drawing monsters, the Monstrez, because monsters give him a lot of freedom.

“Since I’ve drawn a lot of politicians, it must have given me some ideas!”

In his garden, at the age of 95, he created a spray-painted fresco. Elements of the mural can also be found along the staircase leading to his studio.

Drawing, illustrating, painting and creating keep Alain Trez young at heart, and he always has a good word to say and an easy laugh. His great-grandniece and his daughters surround and support him in his project to organise an exhibition. Artistes Actuels joins them!

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