November 11, 2013

Illustrator Spotlight: Albertine

Have you guys heard of Albertine? She's one of the most fantastic artists EVER (here's the link to her site). She and Germano Zullo (author) are an amazing team and they have come out with some of the most innovative and beautiful picturebooks I've ever seen, and I'm so happy to be talking about them today!

First, a little information on both. Albertine regularly illustrates many French newspapers in Switzerland and teaches at the School of Visual Arts in Geneva. Zullo is a writer and poet who lives in Geneva and writes for children and adults alike. Together, this duo has written several amazing picturebooks that really engage readers and push them to think beyond the limits of the picturebook's borders. Allow me to demonstrate.

Starting with my absolute favorite, Sky High is by far one of my top picturebooks. It details the story of two rivals who insist on building their houses higher than the other person's, causing all sorts of craziness. The two homeowners go to great lengths to outdo each other, bringing in the most expensive architects, furniture, Bengal tigers (oh yes), buttresses, and anything else you can think of. Here's the cover:



As you can see, it's a very tall, skinny book, just perfect for showing the growth of the houses as they continue to extend further and further up.




And here they are getting even taller (that guy on the left just has to put up a flag to make his house taller...):


As you can see the houses are each on the verge of hitting the top of the book, which (personally) makes me flip the pages faster to see what happens when the two homeowners can't continue to build up. The book has an interesting message about the preservation of land, and the unnecessary lavishness that is destroying the environment. There is a sort of cyclical feeling as the book opens with leafy endpapers, goes through an intense amount of building, and then ends with yet another focus on nature as boars roam the toppled houses and bring back whatever they find to a boar colony in the forest near the houses. I find everything about this book to be almost perfect. A definite keeper!!

Other books the duo has worked on together are Line 135 and  Little Bird. I briefly mentioned the later in my last post as a great example of using primary colors in illustration. Both books text and color sparingly, utilizing the colors to highlight the most interesting and important aspects of the illustrations.

Like Sky High, Line 135 has a unique shape and feel to it. Rather than pulling the eye up, though, Line 135 pulls you across the page and over to the next spread, encouraging readers to follow the literal and metaphorical lines of the book to its conclusion.





And finally here is a look at Little Bird, a story about friendship and birds! Here is the publisher's 
description: 

"A man drives his truck up to a cliff's edge. Unable to go any further, he opens the back door of his truck and a flock of birds flies out, but, as the man soon discovers, a small timid bird remains. Surprised and delighted, the man acts kindly towards the bird and an intimacy develops. After lunch, the man tries to show the bird that he should fly off and join his friends. The man's comic attempt at flight deepens the encounter between these two very different creatures. Soon the bird flies off and the man drives away, but in a surprise twist the bird and his friends return, and in a starkly lyrical moment we see them all experience something entirely new."


The two do such amazing work together, including a whole host of books in other languages. They are perfect in their sparse text and big messages, and hopefully they will work together for a long time to come!

Never very sparingly yours,
Mel