Children’s book artists illustrate how to turn an idea into captivating images at SIBF 2022
Emirati children’s book illustrator Alia Al Badi and Italian artist Nicolette Bertelle highlight the various stages of illustrating works for young readers
Sharjah, November 6, 2022
Leading children’s book illustrators at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair gave an illuminating insight into the art of book illustrations, from its concept as an idea through the various stages of its execution, in an engaging panel discussion at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The panel talk, featuring Italian children’s book illustrator Nicolette Bertelle and Emirati illustrator Alia Al Badi, demonstrated how artists transform stories and text into interesting images and exciting visual material to engage young readers.
Al Badi, who enriches children’s books with colourful and evocative images, says that she reads the stories from a child’s point of view, and translates the mental image that touches her the most into the accompanying illustration.
“I discuss with the publishing house their expectations regarding the images, and then I take in the book as a reader, not as an illustrator. The final illustrations you see are a result of both processes,” said Bertelle.
For books catering to younger children, especially those who are not yet old enough to read themselves, certain criteria such as larger illustrations with brighter colours are followed, while more abstract images and colouring may be used in works for older children.
Both creators also said that they strongly follow their own emotions while illustrating. Bertelle, who has more than 120 books to her credit, said: “You incorporate your own life experiences and visual references into your illustrations. While there is constant research and work that goes into illustrating, I know I’m on the right track if the images evoke a special emotion in me.”
Colours can also add powerful references or symbolism, says Al Badi, who pointed out that in her stories catering to young Emirati children, she takes painstaking efforts to get the local culture and details right.
“Words by itself have a magic spell that helps us create,” said Bertelle, while Al Badi said that a rule of thumb she follows while illustrating is: “I imagine that I’m a kid playing with colours.”
The artists also advised young children to “draw, draw, draw” to become artists and illustrators in the future.
Bertelle added: “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes for that’s when you also make incredible discoveries. Be determined and tenacious in seeing your work through and be passionate about what you do.”
1-4 General photo during the session