Let's continue getting to know the winners of the first Philippine National Children's Book Awards! =D In my last post, I interviewed Gidget Roceles-Jimenez, the author of the excellent Can We Live on Mars?: A Book about Space (Adarna House, 2009). Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Bru, the book's illustrator. Bru has brought along some illustrations from the book to share with us.
Hi, Bru! And welcome! It's great to host you on my blog.
What did you like most or find the most interesting about Can We Live on Mars?: A Book about Space?
The whole thing was fun. There was no one thing that stood out. It was a challenge actually, but I really enjoyed illustrating this book (except for the mechanical drawings of spaceships. It's like drawing cars. I am so not a gearhead).
[Click on the image above to see a spread from the book. This image is courtesy of Adarna House. All rights reserved.]
How would you describe your illustration style for Can We Live on Mars?: A Book about Space? What influences and inspirations did you draw from while working on the book? Can you please guide us through the creative process you used while working on the book?
The Little Golden Books style was one peg, it has such charm and a great hand-drawn feel. Fitting for the title and cover page, although I rendered these on the computer. Adarna let me come up with my own characters and style and I am very thankful for that freedom. The Adarna science series always has main characters that act as the kids' guides through the book. My girl was loosely based on Princess Leia, and the boy on Astroboy. I also gave each kid a pet—a cute green alien dog and a space monkey—as secondary characters. They were loosely based on Laika the Soviet space dog, and monkey astronauts; animals who were historically launched into space before it was deemed safe for humans. The gang gets to live out little slice-of-life space stories in the book.
I always start with thumbnail sketches which Adarna goes over. Once they green-light the studies, I ink my characters on paper then color these digitally. Working on the book was very tedious; there was a lot to illustrate! In the beginning, I had difficulty nailing a look that was both educational/factual and fantastic/whimsical, but once we got over that black hole, it got easier to draw the gist of the text. I kept it fun and kengkoy [funny or goofy] but still informative (it is a learning book after all). I also interjected sci-fi and pop culture references when I could.
How would you describe your studio?
Organized chaos :) Masarap magtrabaho dito [It's a pleasure working here.] (except for Cubao dust). It's a very creative space.
Please visit this link. This is our studio. [Bru is one-half of Electrolychee.] Our good friend Mitch Mauricio shot us for her creative spaces blog a while back.
What is your typical workday like?
We try to get to the studio before lunch. But that's not happening right now, maybe when we get our biological work clocks in sync with the rest of the world. So, we sleep in, have lunch, go to the office, draw, paint, eyes on the computer, then back home for dinner. Some days if we have meetings in the morning till afternoon, we spend the rest of the day out-checking out bookstores, Booksale branches, malls. Some nights we go grab drinks with friends, catch a gig nearby, or if [my partner] Marcus' bands are playing. Pretty normal.
Do you have any rituals when working on illustrations?
I have to really be in the mood. I research a lot. Sketch a lot before hunkering down to do the final illustrations. We always have the radio/music on (sometimes Marcus plays LPs he bought at thrift stores on his old vinyl player; yesterday we were listening to the Pointer Sisters!). Starch and snack attacks are for sudden hunger pangs especially when we're working [many hours] straight, but generally a good meal before or after work is more rewarding.
What does winning a National Children's Book Award mean to you?
It's a wow. It makes me proud of the group's accomplishment. It really is a team effort. I hope more schools/government agencies support local publishers' endeavors, such as Adarna's.
What's next for you?
In kid's book publishing? I hope to illustrate my first kid's story book. I really have difficulty illustrating a running narrative, which my partner Marcus can do blindfolded.
Bru, thank you so much for stopping by my blog for a chat and for sharing your illustrations!