March 19, 2024

Let's Talk Illustrators #284: Carla Haslbauer

I got a chance recently to catch up with German illustrator Carla Haslbauer about her illustration process. Today we're talking about her most recent US publication There Are No Dragons in This Book, written by Donna Lambo-Weidner. I hope you enjoy this claw-some interview with absolutely zero dragons in it!

About the book:
There are no dragons in this book! Wait, is that really true? There was one right here, wasn't there? Was he hiding in the attic? What do you mean, he's not alone? Come on, let's give the book a good shake and see what happens!

Peek underneath the dust jacket:

Let's talk Carla Haslbauer!

LTPB: How did you become the illustrator of There Are No Dragons in This Book? What were the first images that popped into your mind when you saw Donna Lambo-Weidner’s text? How did your illustrations evolve?

CH: I got the text of Donna Lombo-Weidner from the publishing house NordSüd Verlag where I have already published 2021 my first book Die Tode meiner Mutter (My Mother's Delightful Deaths).

I already was hooked just because go the topic Dragons when I read the text for the first time. As a child I loved stories about dragons and fantasy worlds.

The first image in my head was the bathroom scene where the poor dragon hides in the toilet. I have somehow a thing with bathrooms…

LTPB: What did you find most difficult in creating this book? What did you find most rewarding?

CH: The story of the book has an interactive part where the reader needs to shakes the book and some dragons "fall out" of the book gap. It was difficult to figure out which was the best way to incorporate the interactive part into a book, especially in a way that would suit the publisher who had not published an interactive picture book before. With my storyboard and my concept idea I also needed to convince the publisher.

The text does not explain in which room the story takes place, nor are any characters described. There are also no objects (apart from a fireplace or the cat) that appear explicitly in the text.

So I actually had to come up with a second story around the text, which only happens in the pictures. That's how I came up with the concept of the house, where the roof can also be read as a book. Like: "There are no dragons in this house." This part was the hardest but also the most fun, because had a lot if freedom and I could play with the characters and actually just set up my imaginary house however I wanted.

LTPB: It looks like you do a lot of commissioned work and side projects! Can you tell me what else you do in addition to writing and illustrating children’s books?

CH: I do a lot of private projects like Lino print, painting and telling everyday stories in comics. I like to discover the world through drawings and observing. And I love to try out a lot of new things, like designing tattoos (not yet tattooed myself), doing 3D objects and sewing. I do sometimes the event poster for my mother who is an opera singer. And since I published my first book I do a lot of readings. That's how I discovered the joy and my talent of working with an audience.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations in this book? Is this your preferred medium? How does your process change from book to book?

CH: For my picture books I like to work very analog. I use a mixture of gouache and acrylic paint, color pencils, wax crayons. I love to use bright colors and to try out new techniques. For my next book project i would like to collage more, for example.

Sometimes I can't see the illustrations I did 2 years ago anymore. I think all illustrators know that feeling...but that's how I automatically learn something new with every project. About the different variations of the storytelling or about myself and my style.

LTPB: What are you working on now? Anything you can show us?

CH: For 2024 I will illustrate a book for the publishing house Kunstanstifter. I can't say much about it yet except that I'm going to use my fat cat Yuki as inspiration.

Another project is about the topic of fish. I don't know why but I have a kind of obsession about the underwater world and and especially for the prejudices we have against fish. The book project is still very much in its infancy. It will be an empathetic book about the differences and similarities between humans and fish based on scientific facts.

LTPB: If you got the chance to write your own picture book autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it, and why?

CH: I really love the style and the narration of the Italian Illustrator Beatrice Alemagna! She is so good at telling stories from a child's point of view and I would like to see my childhood through her illustrations.

A dragon-sized thank you to Carla for sharing her process with me! There Are No Dragons in This Book published earlier this month from NorthSouth Books!

Special thanks to Carla and NorthSouth Books for use of these images!

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1 comment:

  1. Brava Carla!!! You did a phenomenal job! Mit einer dicken Umarmung, I wish you much success on all your future projects!