June 7, 2016

Illustrator Spotlight: Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales is one of the most versatile illustrators I've ever come across. She does such an incredible job of molding her illustration style to the text and tone of the story, and her books are always rooted in family and self-identity.


Viva Frida is probably her most uniquely-illustrated book, and one of my personal favorites. It provides a bilingual look at Frida Khalo's thought process and search for a sense of self, and Morales mixes two distinct styles of illustration into this book: photography and painting.

The photography scenes are very unique in the sense that Morales created dolls and sets that she later photographed. These photographs eventually became the illustrations of the book.

I talked about this process a little while ago (it's fascinating) so if you missed it, check it out. Morales has also posted a video discussing how she created the book. Definitely have a look to learn more about Morales as an illustrator, but also about how much work goes into this style of illustration--there are so many levels to it.

In El Niño Wrestles the World, we see a more dominant side of Morales.

The images are vibrant, and the bilingual text--just like in Viva Frida--is integral to the imagery. And true to form, the main character is searching for a sense of self as he wrestles all of his enemies.

But just when the story gets too crazy, too far-fetched, Morales brings in El Niño's sisters as his biggest nemeses.

Once again, we see that Morales has a strong track record of grounding her stories and images in family.

We see the same tendencies in Morales latest book Thunder Boy Jr, written by Sherman Alexie: the text is integral to the visual narrative, the images are rooted in family, and the main character is searching for an identity.

Almost every scene features Thunder Boy Jr. interacting with family and searching for his true self.

Like Viva Frida and El Niño, the text in Thunder Boy Jr. is an integral part of the visual narrative, guiding readers through Thunder Boy Jr.'s journey of self-discovery and focusing on the importance of family.

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