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We are saddened to announce the recent passing of Untapped Cities illustrator, cartoonist and beloved friend David Cessac. He was 39 years old. David, who lived in Paris, always made us laugh with the witty illustrations and commentary he created for his Untapped Cities column, A Few Parisians. In his first interview with Untapped, David said, “What I like about this series is that it’s a new way to reinvent, or reappropriate, the city of Paris. It was the first idea I had.” 

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David came to New York City frequently to visit friends and foster an inter-cultural dialogue between Parisians and New Yorkers. He helped organize and participated in a “Parisians vs. New Yorkers” live drawing event at the French Embassy in New York, amusing audience members with his quick and humorous drawings as well as his astute observations on the idiosyncrasies of New Yorkers and Parisians. He was both observant–picking up on the little things that make people tick—and an extremely talented illustrator.

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For the one year anniversary of David’s column, he filmed a short video of himself creating a drawing called “To Be or Not To Be… A Parisian,” which he gave away to an Untapped reader—a gesture which is just one example of his unfailing generosity.

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On his last visit to New York, in February, David was inspired by the winter weather and the way New Yorkers react to it. He drew this illustration—never before published—outside of the New York Public Library.

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David always tried to bring a smile to people’s faces and joy to their lives. In addition to his Untapped Cities column and regular magazine work, he did illustrations for non-profits and hospitals. We are sad to lose our dear friend David, but thankful that he touched our lives. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. He will always live on in our memories.

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A message from Untapped Cities founder, Michelle Young:

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David entered my life in an unexpected way, like most of my interactions with the Untapped Cities community. He was at a dinner party, met one of our editors, and showed up at the Untapped Cities HQ one hot New York City summer day with sweaty brow and notebook in hand, observing and drawing the idiosyncrasies around us that he caught with a nuance I had never seen before.

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And that same nuance accompanied his interactions with friends. I cannot pinpoint the moment that we would become Facebook chat buddies across the ocean. Or how he became my go-to person in Paris to explore things like Jim Morrison’s last apartment or to enjoy a simple evening of drinks and Parisian pastries. He even came to my bachelorette party in Paris, just a few months ago.

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What I do know is that he poured himself into everything he did. He was a private person, but shared with the world his acute sensibility on the human condition. He wasn’t a New Yorker, but he understood it. He would walk the streets with me, pointing out at the contradiction within me as well–that what I needed desperately before my French language class was a NYC diner hamburger and fries.

David was always pushing for his art, working corporate jobs to support his dream. At Untapped Cities, we gave him a platform, but we always felt he was destined for so much. It is a terrible moment to see great artistic potential cut so short.

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One of his last, generous gestures to me was to illustrate a series of drawings for my wedding on May 10th to a Parisian. The series was an extension of his New Yorkers v. Parisians series, and was placed in every gift bag. On the back of his drawing, my husband and I wrote: “We’ve learned a lot from each other these past four years, living in both Paris and New York City and traveling the world. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is that cultural differences will continue to surprise us, challenge us, and make us laugh. This drawing by Untapped Cities illustrator David Cessac gives just a glimpse of the many moments that bring new depth into our lives every day.”

David filled my heart, and those of our readers, with such joy through his art. We hope his message of acceptance and of cultural understanding through humor and the exploration of humanity will live on through the work we do here at Untapped Cities.

–  Michelle Young

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