As unplanned as many of our lives are, American illustrator Kris Di Giacomo, who has had over 30 of her books translated worldwide, never thought she would ever be an illustrator. With her lively pictorial representations, Kris has been transcending book reading experiences for children. During her recent visit to the city at the invitation of Tara Books and the Institut Francais, it was an insight into the world of illustrations for us.
This American artist has been living in France since her childhood. Answering our query on how she took up the profession, Kris reveals, “Actually, I never thought I was ever going to be an illustrator. I went to an art school in Paris. I taught English to children after I finished school, because that was the only job I could find then. Over the years, I looked for ways to teach them the language using pictures, which gave me the idea that I would make a bilingual picture book with a storyline. That helped me get started on making picture books. From there on, it was all about the people I met,” she says.
Kris attributes some of the biggest influences on her work to the book stores in Paris, which opened her up to the works of other illustrators in the country. However, Roald Dahl will remain her favourite forever. “One of my favourite things from childhood would be Roald Dahl, and Quentin Blake for his illustrations. These books are fun to read even for an adult. Every week in Paris, I visit a book shop for children’s books and I’m always amazed. I really like the freedom that I have when I illustrate for children.”
Kris usually works directly with the authors, reads the manuscripts and then sketches for the stories that she connects with. She explains, “The author would send me stories, I read them and then take up one of the stories that interests me. I spend about two-three months on putting the book together. I usually work on paper with pencil at the beginning, and when I start to get elements of the drawing together, I scan them into the computer. The final compositions for the book, I make using Photoshop. It’s both hand work elements as well as the computer that contribute to this.”
Kris points out that travelling and everyday experiences help her renew ideas and keep the excitement going. “This is my first time in India, and it has been an eye-opener. It would be great to work with Indian authors, too,” she says, signing off....