Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meet Valeria, the Artist from Argentina

Valeria Cis was born, raised and resides in the city of Rosario, Argentina, with her family. Her illustrations, inspired by daily events and ordinary objects, display special attention to detail and pattern. She usually paints with acrylic on paper.

We are delighted to have her here for CROCUS- an illustrator from Argentina, who has done books for US and Korea among others!Truly multi cultural we say!

How did your journey into illustration begin?
I started drawing when I was a little girl, as everyone does, I suppose. I loved to draw, every time, everywhere. When I started my studies at the university, I realized I wanted to paint and draw as a job. I also loved to read books, stories. So I merged my two passions and I started to visit publishers with my own illustrations which, by the way, were horrible at that moment!!

Picture books are the best introduction to other cultures- any comments?
When you illustrate a picture book, you not only illustrate what the text says, you draw from within yourself: your experiences, everyday objects, feelings. You have the freedom of telling something at the same time the text is taking place. So it is impossible for an illustrator not to reflect his / her own culture on the book.

I had the chance to illustrate a book for a Korean publisher, and put in some of landscape illustrations including a hornero. A hornero is a bird that is very typical of my region. This bird makes his own house with mud. Maybe people from other countries will not understand what that is, but it is a ‘wink’ I love to put in all my works, even though only I might understand it.

What books would feature on your Must read Top 10 picture books for children from across the world?
There are so many books around the world that I know and think must be seen by people, but there are so many I don’t know, that it would be unfair. I prefer to say that people have to discover their own "must have". I always tell people to visit bookstores, libraries, more often. With kids of course…

How would you describe the children's book scenario in Argentina today? Is English popular and therefore English children's literature as well?
The children's book market in Argentina has developed a lot in the last fifteen- twenty years. There are many more publishers and plenty of illustrators.

You can also see a clear interest from people, especially parents and teachers to introduce children to literature. Something that amazes me, is that you can find a special corner in book stores, dedicated to children, with small chairs and small tables, and the shelves are at their height. And what puzzles me is why I couldn’t find something like this when I was a girl. Luckily, it happens now.

English is very popular, Everybody studies English from early childhood at school, Some institutions teach English literature, but that’s not so often.

Are there many publishing houses that do only local stories/ folk tales in Argentina? Do you have a lot of languages within Argentina or just one?
I suppose that there isn’t a publishing house that does only local stories. We have only one language, but multiple dialects or local tunes of it in each province of our country.

Can you see yourself illustrating an Indian/ Asian book? How would you approach such a project?
Yes! I’d love to! Is an interesting question how I approach a project from abroad. There are two things I'd like to tell you about this point:

One is that this wouldn’t be possible without Internet. Internet is my connection with the world. It is impossible for me to work without it, as most of my work is for other countries. Maybe for this generation of illustrators it is something usual, something that is incorporated into their routine. But when I started, there was no Internet and when it came, I had no access to it!

Second, I find new projects from other countries challenging. When I receive a new proposal, I start studying the subject, I look for images, colors, customs- anything that can help me plunge into this new culture.

This study and research takes more time than the rest of the process at times. I enjoy it a lot since I feel that I have traveled to that place, though I'm still at home!

The details in the illustrations of The Beeman book clearly demonstrate the wonderful research that must have gone into studying the characteristics of bees and the role of the beeman in caring for the hives. Could you share with us your some of your experiences working on that project?
This is one of my favorite projects. Beekeeping was something absolutely unknown tor me. I had no idea how it was done. Fortunately the Beeman was Laurie Krebs, the author's husband, and she provided me with websites, pictures and information I needed.

In the story, a grandfather introduces his grandson to the beekeeping world, as he is the beeman. I was told that the honey process took one year from the beginning to the end, so the wink I told you about, that I usually put in, were the clothes and the outside colors, how the landscape changes in each station.

What guided your decision making in using the techniques you have used in illustrating The Beeman?
I always work with the same technique. Or make some variations on the same that is acrylic on paper. I love to make some close ups especially when the books ask you to do so, as in this case. I think it gives a dynamic look from one page to another. But the false perspective, I usually give specially to floor patterns, is something I stole from kids. I love to use the children's point of view.

What is your dream project?
My dream project is to do a pop up book some day…

Anything in particular that you would like to tell the contributors and readers of Saffron Tree?
I thank you a lot for giving me the opportunity of telling my own experience, maybe close or maybe different from other illustrators from far away… Our cultures are so different but at the same time with so many points in common.

As I'm a full day working mother, I have to mix my job at home between brushes and tableware, between papers and laundry. It’s lovely hard work.

I'd like to thank my sister Julieta who always helps me with translations and corrections of my poor English language. Gracias!

Valeria studied fine art at The University of Humanities and Arts in Rosario. She also teaches illustration at the Visual Communication Institute, in Rosario. She has illustrated many books in her country, Argentina and some from other countries round the world. Her atelier named "La Casuni" is a small room at the backyard of her house. You can continue to stay in touch with her work at her blog.


sandhya said...

Great questions, Art, with equally wonderful answers from Valeria. Her passion for her work, and the reasearch she needs to put in, as also the process that goes on behind the picture book illustrations was very well put forth.

"Something that amazes me, is that you can find a special corner in book stores, dedicated to children, with small chairs and small tables, and the shelves are at their height. And what puzzles me is why I couldn’t find something like this when I was a girl. Luckily, it happens now." Much like our experience here in India, isn't it?

Rachna Chhabria said...

Nice interview with Valeria. In Picture books every word counts and the illustrations have to take the story forward. The effort put in by picture book illustrators is really commendable.

Btw..I have emailed the link to your website to my writing friends and illustrators. Hope you get lots of traffic.

artnavy said...

Thanks Sanhdya.
Valeria's work is BRILLIANT. Do visit her blog. I am not sure how to get her English books here except through Amazon.

Yes, even libraries seem to have them and sometimes bean bags not small chairs!?

Thanks. It was a pleasure since Valeria was so forthcoming and is SOOO talented.

I was also fascinated by the Korean publisher's page....

And many thanks for passing the link on.

Lavs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anitha Sen said...

Love your site. Will check regularly. My friend Rachna sent me the link.

nanands said...

Valeria says "...I find new projects from other countries challenging. When I receive a new proposal, I start studying the subject, I look for images, colors, customs- anything that can help me plunge into this new culture." I think these cross-cultural involvements will only enrich whatever gets produced for children. After all many illustrations for children are "unreal" and "mysterious"! At the same internet "research" ensures that we commit no faux-pa.

artnavy said...

Lavs/ Anitha- Thanks and keep visiting

nanands- it definitely enriches what children get to see as they read...and if they spot things like Valeria's "wink" makes for even better learning!

Unknown said...

Nice :) My appreciation for illustrators has gone up after the karadi thing. :) Her detailing is amazing.. n How nice to be able to incorporate something abt her culture in her illustrations. well done art.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely interview. Well done with the questions.

And what amazing talent. wow!! The attention to details is amazing.

This is surely a great find!

artnavy said...

Pat and Shruti- Was sure you girls would like it being so arty yourselves...

Choxbox said...

The funnest thing about this whole gig is knowing the behind-the-scenes stories. Thanks Art and Valeria!

Radhika Sharma said...

Just love your blog. Its a wonderful place to meet book.

*Thanks Rachna*

*Hi Saffron Tree Gang. You folks are AWESOME*

utbtkids said...

Love the way Valeria talks about "the wink". Really, what did people before the internet?!

A very candid interview and great questions.

Thanks Valeria and Art.

Meera Sriram said...

It was a great joy to get a peek into the world of such talented people!

Valeria, wish you bag a pop-up book assignment soon! BTW, what does "Casuni" mean? Just curious. (could not find it on the blog or from google:)
Thanks for the effort from your side Art.

Anonymous said...

i loved this interview, the questions and the answers both

art I think hippocampus has some of her books if I am not mistaken

v a l e r i a c i s said...

Hi everybody, thank you so much for all your warm comments!
Is really difficult for me to write so many words in a language I don't use so often...
What does "La Casuni" means, is a good question:
"the house" in spanish is "La casa" in a diminutive way is "la casita". "la casuni" is a cute way to call my studio, as it is in my house.
So come along to La Casuni any time, listen to music and take a cup of coffe!

artnavy said...

Thanks all.


Though it is a cliche- your pictures really do speak a thousand words.

Thank you so much for your ready response.

Praba Ram said...

Such a beautiful exchange, Art and Valeria.

I have to say your Beeman book created quite a buzz around here. Ok, now I know the reason for the close-ups - the false perspective on floor patterns to capture the child's point of view! Wow, utterly floored! :)

The eight year old in my family is having lot of fun drawing, figuring out her own style exploring stuff. Her work gets selected often for community shows.It amazes me to think she has been teaching herself many things, like for instance, layering to capture depth and such. Of course, this art-challenged mom has no clue how to help her develop her talents in drawing and art, going forward. I am happy just watching her draw. :)

Loved the personal story about your journey into art. Thanks for taking the time to answer it all in such an honest, simple and straightforward manner. :)

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