Archive for August 2009

The Girl in the Castle: Interview with Illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli

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she's-so-lovely copiaItalian illustrator, Nicoletta Ceccoli, creates dreamy dimensions inhabited by delicate creatures caught in a fantastical fresco. Her work is sublimely surreal and evokes a feeling of looking at an ethereal microcosm. In addition to her prolific painting collection, Ms. Ceccoli has illustrated several children’s books and has also been commissioned for commercial work. Whether illustrating an ad which befittingly highlights the sleeping comforts of an aircraft or collaborating on The Joy of Spooking for children, Ceccoli’s work beautifully retains her signature palette of cotton candied hues and porcelain characters.

Nicoletta Ceccoli is a three-time winner of the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts and was awarded the silver medal from the New York based Society of Illustrators in 2006.

1) Do you remember one of your first paintings or drawings as a young child?
A portrait of my favourite doll. I called her ‘Birillina’. I still have that doll on my shelf in my studio between my favourite objects and toys.

2) What and/or who are your influences?
I try to surround myself with many examples from art history or from other illustrated sources for style is the  result of the many different things I admire and I am inspired by…I love Piero della Francesca whose paintings are so clean, neat pure measured and classical…One of my favourite illustrators is Stasys Eidrigevicius and his dark surrealism. Then I have ankatherine copiaadoration for the Mexican artist Remedios Varo, too… and for the comics of early 1900 like Little Nemo by Winsor McCay-so imaginative and full of whimsical surreal inventions. Paul Klee once described an artist as being like a tree, drawing the minerals of experience from its roots – things observed, read, told and felt – and slowly processing them into new leaves.The principle of ‘originality’ is more about a kind of transformation of existing ideas than the invention of entirely new ones for me. Words like ‘inspiration’ can easily convey a false impression that ideas or feelings appear spontaneously and of their own accord. My own experience is that inspiration has more to do with careful research and looking for a challenge; and that creativity is about playing with what I find, testing one proposition against another and seeing how things combine and react.

3) Your art is very surreal-what is the last dream that you can remember?
There is a recourring dream I have since several years ago…a neverending house -castle whose inside I explore going undergroud inside it deeper and deeper in its downstairs and empty rooms. The castle reminds me of my school which was placed inside the Ducal Palace of Urbino.

4) What projects are you in the process of working on? Do you have any upcoming shows?gio copia
My most recent book is The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum a children’s book published in 2008 by Random House of New York. It is full of dreamlike and inside-outside visions. It has been my most interesting and personal project as illustrator of books since now. The story is very simple but unusual. I thought to set it in a toy museum and I thought of the girl as if she is living in a toy castle somehow. So when the children come to the museum they look for her through the windows of the toy castle. The results are quiet surreal images with giant child faces spying on the small doll princess’ life…In 2008 ,I worked as character designer for a French animation project La Mecanique du Couer with the direction of Mathias Malzieu and the production of Luc and Silla Besson. The film should be released in 2010.

5) What advice do you offer illustrators who are just starting out professionally?
Fight for their dreams!


Super Kawaii Mama Introduces Ms. Ruby!

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Blog hostess and vintage fashionista, Candice DeVille, showcases her love of the past with Super Kawaii Mama. This lovely blog features everything from kitschy kitchens to candy couture all with a kawaii (or uber cute) sensibility. Ms. DeVille also comes to your beauty bluster aide with her quick tips on make-up and hair. Super Kawaii Mama also offers a vintage fashion gallery which not only displays an enviable wardrobe but it also features Ms. DeVille modeling the clothes in whimsical settings. Each setting is evocative of the very genteel era of the clothing itself. Ms. DeVille recently sports a crinoline 1940’s inspired  party dress while daintily smelling flowers in a garden. Super Kawaii Mama is a lovely ode to all things cute and reflective of a time period that exuded playful (and fashionable) innocence. Ms. Ruby Winkle now makes makes her own debut at the lovely Super Kawaii Mama abode.

Written by corvusblue

August 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Will Work for Fear: Interview with Author Amanda Noll

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9780979974625I Need My Monster is authored by Amanda Noll and complimented by the unique illustrative style of Howard McWilliam.  I Need My Monster puts a spin on scary when Ethan discovers that the devoted monster under his bed has decided to go fishing. Fearing the loss of sleep without his fearful friend, Ethan turns to interviewing a list of monster substitutes. Unfortunately, each monster proves to be inadequate-their fangs are too long, their slobbering too silly. their claws too clumsy.

Amanda Noll captures our dual fascination with creatures by making them both absurd and frightful as emphasized by McWilliam’s topsy turvy fish-eye perspective. Ms. Noll provided her own debacle with monsters in the following interview:

1) Do you remember the first story that you wrote?

No. Like most people I did some writing in high school but I did not begin writing earnestly until my mid twenties.

2) What are your influences?

I love science fiction and fantasy. My personal bookshelf is full of McCaffrey, McKinnley, Croggon, Westerfeld, and Collins. I was raised on Dr. Who and adore the series.

3) What inspired the story I Need My Monster?

One night, after my neurotic 3 year old daughter, got out of bed again. I wished that she was afraid of monsters. At the time she was afraid of almost everything, but monsters did not phase her one bit.

I know this is a poor reflection on my parenting skills, but I was desperate to get some rest, our fourth child was still an infant.

I think the lack of sleep plus the desire for her to stay in bed spawned the idea that if she did have a monster, he was doing a lousy job, or maybe he was gone. The story evolved from there.

4) What advice do you offer children’s book authors who are just starting out professionally?

Don’t wait until you retire to start writing! It really does take 7 – 10 years to see your first book in print. If you plan to write as a second career, start now.

Also, it’s important to write books that are current. Don’t try to write the kind of story you grew up with. Publishers don’t want dated material.

Death Takes a Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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book-thief-2Is reviewing a book halfway liken to being a smitten fool? Like most smitten proclamations, this is my first time. I have never been quite so taken by a book that I wholeheartedly trusted that a good ending was waiting for me based on the sheer brilliance of the writing. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is narrated by the omnipresent and illuminating commentary of Death set to a backdrop of Nazi Germany. In this story, Death is not remorseful. Death is not exacting or vengeful. Death is here to tell the tale of a young girl named Liesel Meminger. After her brother’s traumatic death, Liesel is escorted by her mother to a foster home on the ironically named Himmel Street in Molching, Germany. Himmel means Heaven. Although Himmel Street is far from heavenly, offering only beratings from her dour foster mother and a constant heaping of split pea soup, it is here that she begins to find solace in books.  After a bout of nightmares, Liesel is consoled by her newly adopted Papa which leads to a bond between the two and introduces Liesel to the vorboten world of words. Papa is Hans Hubermann-a jovial accordion player, mustachioed and warm with more wit than money. Papa teaches Liesel how to read through her first stolen book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook. So begins Liesel’s fascination with books leading to a life of stealing and stolen moments. Thievery is not evil. It is an escape from Liesel’s hardsrabbled existence manifesting as criminally sweet tastes of candy, apples and learning.

Although Nazi Germany looms as large as any bully that Liesel encounters on Himmel Street, it does not dominate the story or eclipse the frail heroics of Liesel’s genuine stoicism. A bonfire in the town square is held in honor of the Führer’s birthday however its politics pale against Liesel’s heartful and illicit determination to savalage a banned and burning book from the embers. The Book Thief is shadowed by silent atrocities however it is the transformative power of books and relationships that shine leaving both Death and humans in awe of humanity. “So much good, so much evil. Just add water”.

Written by corvusblue

August 11, 2009 at 11:20 pm