Scbwi Israel presents our Illustrator of the Month – Inbal Leitner
Hi! I am Inbal Leitner. I studied classic animation and worked as an animator for 12 years, before I took the decision to focus on illustration. So far I've illustrated 4 children books, now working on the fifth book. I had the honor to illustrate the biography of Louie Pasteur, "One Stubborn Boy", which was followed by an exhibition of the originals at the Pasteur Museum in Dole, France. Other than illustrating books, I participate every year in one or more group exhibitions.
How did you first get into illustration?
I studied classic animation in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. I love animation, and I've always loved and practiced the more artistic and less commercial style & techniques in my short film animations. However, this was not very practical so that in order to make a living I had to compromise sometimes, and take commercial projects that would not be my first choice… This, with the challenge of being a mother and an animator, led me to the decision to focus on illustration, where I can practice my artistic vision, communicate with the viewer (which is another thing I love about animation and illustration), and make ART.
How do you start a new project of children book illustration?
I usually read the text few times. Well, Many times. I also read it to my kids. If an idea crosses my mind while reading, I write or sketch it down. I then research the subject – read related materials, and build a folder with reference images, inspiration images and links. Then I make sketches and sometimes show them to children in order to check if my ideas are communicative. I try to have the whole book sketched down before starting to work, in order to have a full view of it.
What is your artistic process, creating a new illustration?
I usually start thinking with a pencil & paper, sketching and writing down concepts, colors and technique ideas. Then I make color tests, and I choose the technique that will best fit the story and the energy of the book, trying to create the right atmosphere for the story. I create a color palette that will serve as the basic color information for the whole book. This is the stage when I start illustrating. I usually start with the illustrations which are clearer to me, leaving the ones which I still have dilemmas or questions about for later. It all sounds very organized, but I do tend to jump back and forth between the stages!
What would be your ultimate goal as an illustrator?
Every now and then I have a completely non-commercial idea. Sometimes these ideas yield independent series of illustrations or single illustrations, sometimes they result in works for exhibitions. Recently I find great interest in combining poetry and illustration. I think these two genres are very similar in a way, hence the challenge in putting them together, and I am working on few ideas in that direction.
Did you work with clients from the international market? Can you tell us about it?
My recent book, "Marisha – Das mädchen aus dem Fass" (Marisha – the girl from the barrel), was written by Gabrielle Hannemann and was published in Germany by Ariella Verlag. It tells the amazing life story of young Marisha, who experienced WW2 as a little brave girl, Hidden alone in a dark barrel for 18 months. Being an Israeli illustrator, working on a book targeted at German school kids, yielded some interesting conversations with the writer and the publisher. One of the main discussions was about the different points of view towards the Holocaust and how the story should be visually presented to children who don’t know much about it, whereas in Israel it is a widely spoken subject which is also present in a way in elementary school.
Tell us about an interesting illustration project you were involved in.
Two years ago I was approached by a compositor, who wrote a 54 minutes choir music after the famous story "The Little Prince" by St. Exupéry. She hired me to illustrate and design a CD package for the music, including 13 full bleed new illustrations of the prince and some of the many characters in the book. Having such big shoes to fill was a bit frightening in the beginning, but once I found the style I was happy with, it was a great joy to re-illustrate the story and combine the worlds of music and illustration.
What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?
Do what you love, appreciate your personal style and don’t try to follow the fashion. Focus (Focus. Focus!) on what you really want to do and (Oh So important!) always keep on learning and developing, making sure you get an inspiring input that will fill your creativity batteries!
Would you like to be our next Illustrator of the Month?
Israeli illustrators who are current members of Scbwi can apply to be Illustrator of the Month. Contact Miri for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org