October 11, 2016

Let's Talk Illustrators #5: Júlia Sardà

I did an Instagram post a little while ago when I first got a copy of Kyo Maclear and Júlia Sardà's The Liszts and said that I felt like I had been waiting for this book my whole life. That sentiment hasn't changed one bit in the months that I've had it: the more I read the book the more I grow to love it. It's so beautiful and so quirky that you can't NOT find something to connect with. There's something for everyone in this book.

Júlia Sardà stopped by to talk about her process for creating the illustrations and font for this incredible story, and I'm excited to share her insight with you today!


About the book:
The Liszts make lists. They make lists most usual and lists most unusual. They make lists in winter, spring, summer and fall. They make lists every day except Sundays, which are listless. Mama Liszt, Papa Liszt, Winifred, Edward, Frederick and Grandpa make lists all day long. So does their cat. Then one day a visitor arrives. He’s not on anyone’s list. Will the Liszts be able to make room on their lists for this new visitor? How will they handle something unexpected arising?

Let's talk Júlia Sardà!


LTPB: I can’t believe this is your debut picture book! Congratulations! 

JS: Thanks so much! I must say that this is the project that I'm most proud of the last year.

LTPB: Where do your illustrations generally start? How did you get into the minds of the Liszts and make each one feel unique but connected to the larger family unit?

JS: I usually start sketching the characters, this is what usually inspires most. It's something that I find very funny and also gives me the chance of digging and imagining freely the kind of people they'd be, without the constraints of thinking about composition, narrative or coherence that I'd have on interior illustrations. I just play around with them, and I usually get the distinctive tone that I want for the book at that time. If I can get a hint of the charisma I'm looking for the book only on the standing plain characters, all the decorations, tone and atmosphere come easily after.


      

      

I also work them one by one but come back to each one every time that I got an aesthetic idea that I think that could be important enough to define the tone of all the group, so in the end they have a coherence.

In this case I felt that the aesthetic would explain a lot from this family, I tried to make them feel anachronistic, out of time and space, just following the small hint of an eastern Europe origin, from their beautiful last name.
LTPB: As an artist, you must be used to conceptualizing a lot of your projects from start to finish. What was your process like for creating visual representations of someone else’s words? How did you work to weave in your own visual story while staying true to Kyo’s text?

JS: I love to bring other's projects to my point of view and to give them another layer of meaning, trying to "continue" the story the writer started with my illustrations. In this case it was especially easy as Kyo's text is very inspiring and abstract, it's deep and doesn't limit in any way. Just the opposite, I felt that she just dropped small seeds of inspiration that could be developed all over the book.



LTPB: There are at least a half a dozen different fonts in this book. How do you go about creating these different styles of text? 

JS: This is usually something that's hard for me. As I don't feel they are my strongest skill I always look for inspiration on other artists or try to find nice original packages where I can steal the lettering from. I must say that this is a very pending subject for me on which I have to work more, as it's something really important that walks along with the illustration and the artist's style.



LTPB: Any new picture books on the horizon?

JS: I'm planning to start very soon with a biography of Mary Shelley, also with Tundra Books, also with Tara Walker, who leaded me through all this process giving me lots of inspiration and freedom. It will be something very different. As I envision it, I plan to work with watercolor stains and blurry black atmospheres, but this is something that I'll see when I face it. It's always an intuitive process that I don't like to verbalize a lot in case it might faint or lose strength, as I say it.




LTPB: The last question I’m asking all illustrators who participate in the series is, if you could have one illustrator (other than yourself!) illustrate your picture book autobiography, who would it be and why?

JS: It would be definitely my partner David Rosel. He is an amazing illustrator and a great friend of mine who would truly picture the ridiculous turnarounds of my absurd life.

Thank you so much to Júlia for stopping by! She was moving the entire time and still managed to get me answers and images!! The Liszts published from Tundra Books last week, October 4, 2016--add it to your list immediately!