By Sanne Dufft
It is my pleasure to interview Ana Larrañaga, second place winner of the Europolitan Portfolio Contest. I am lucky enough to live so close to her that we were able to do this interview in person at Ana’s work space and, as it was a beautiful Summer’s day, in her garden.
Once more, I’d like to give you my warmest congratulations on your win. Stephanie Amster, Editor and Art Director at Bloomsbury (U.K.) and Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (U.S.) were the jury.
In their address, they emphasized they had especially been looking for portfolios featuring work which would be ready to be published in both the U.K. and U.S. markets.
As a Spanish illustrator who has lived both in England and in New York and currently lives in Germany, have you been published yet on any of these markets?
Yes, I have been published in all these countries, although never directly in Germany. But my work has been translated for the German market several times.
Can you share some of your experiences?
My first work was published in Spain but the country where I really took off as an illustrator was the U.K. The United States was much later. It is great to work with all of them.
Feeling comfortable in the language you are working is crucial.
Would you say there’s a market you personally feel most comfortable with?
I couldn’t say. In the end, you deal with individuals. But in general, people in this business are very nice people. We do it because we all love children books and that makes it a very friendly environment.
Can you tell us a bit about the creation of your portfolio? How did you pick the artwork?
That was very difficult! We were supposed to choose no more than 12 pieces, selecting the right ones was very hard. In the end, you go with your gut feeling. I tried to choose pieces that I enjoyed creating.
Do you have a favourite piece? Can you tell us a little about this?
My favourite one is The Polar Bear because the boy riding it is my youngest son and he is wearing a sweater vest that I knitted for him. He wears it all the time.
As I understand, you work mainly digitally, but start with hand-drawn pencil sketches. Would you tell us a bit about your creative process?
I do a lot of tiny sketches in scraps of paper. Some people have beautiful sketch books.
In my case, it can be a napkin or a shopping bill. Most of it is just doodles; but when I like a character, I scan it and blow it up.
What was your prize?
My prize is an online meeting with Laurent Linn, art director and designer of literature for children and young adults.
We went through my web page and he gave me very clear and professional advice on what changes would improve it (now I have to do those changes!) It was quite wonderful.
Thank you so much for this interview. It’s been wonderful talking to you! I look forward to seeing your joyful illustrations in lots of kids’ books in the future.
She has illustrated several picture books, and written one.
Special thanks to Cynsations reporter Angela Cerrito for coordinating the Europolitan Con Portfolio Winners interview series!