Sivan Buntova is an Israeli painter and illustrator of children’s books. She was born in Ukraine and since 1998 has lived in Israel. In 1998 Sivan graduated from the Art Department of Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture in Ukraine. After graduation she emigrated to Israel. She then went on to study and graduate from the Graphic Design and Illustration Department of Wizo Haifa Academy of Design in 2010. During her studies at the Wizo Academy of Design and Architecture, she worked as a graphic designer at a printing house. For Sivan's diploma project, which she took in the last year of studying, she illustrated the fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen "The Snow Queen". After graduating she worked as graphic designer in a graphic design studio. Since 2011 Sivan has worked as a freelancer illustrator and artist. Sivan Buntova has illustrated 2 children's books that have been published in Israel. She is now working on illustrations for her third children's book.
How did you first get into illustration?
When I was six years old, a very funny thing happened. My grandparents lived in a wonderful small town, in a pretty private house. One morning I was sitting near the table and drinking tea and eating delicious cherry jam from a saucer. A big wasp flew through the open window, landed on a saucer and also began to eat the jam. Soon it decided that the sweet cherry jam in the saucer is not tasty enough for him and tried to taste the jam on my cheek. And of course, this wasp bit me and like all wasps, it left his sting on my cheek and flew away. At one moment I went from being the happiest person on the earth to a hapless little girl crying from awful, wild pain. I run to the mirror to see how I looked now. My cheek was swollen and red. My appearance was damaged for a few weeks after this. My mother and my grandmother succeeded to pull out the sting, and my mother who was always full of variousmethods how to stop a child crying, and she suggested to me to draw myself in a portrait at this dramatic moment.
Drawing always was my favorite pastime and I sat near the mirror and began to draw myself. It was really fascinatingly for me to draw myself in this dramatic moment and I stopped to cry. My portrait was a great likeness to me at the time and my family liked it a lot. Now this portrait is my family's relic and my mother saves it very carefully. She gave it to me to scan for this interview with the condition that I'll return her the original 🙂
In addition – my mother always said that when I was in nursery, my nursery teacher told her many times that I have a gift for drawing and that I should continue to develop this skill, which I do until now.
What would be your ultimate goal as an illustrator?
My goals for the future will be to Illustrate children’s books for the International market and become part of global projects. Another ultimate goal for me would be seeing my books translated into many different languages on Amazon, as well as walking into a shop and seeing my books sitting on the shelves in the children's section.
How do you start a new project of children's book illustration?
When I begin to illustrate a book, I always explore the subject of the book in a really deep way. I research the characters of the heroes, their relationships, and their appearances. I choose historical costumes that fit the character, what their environment is and historical periods surrounding the heroes. I find images of architecture and housewares that people used in this historical period because I want that my illustrations will reflect correctly the historical period in which the story takes place. I used this method when illustrating the fairy-tale “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen and when illustrating the fairy-tale “The Dwarf's Nose” by Wilhelm Hauff.
Here are the illustrations from these fairy-tales.
If this is a book about our times, I find the latest fashion clothes and accessories for heroes in my illustrations. For this I use catalogs of fashion stores and go to children's fashion shops. I explore landscapes and nature. I always use a lot of reference images when I illustrate a book and pay attention to details.
Because I learned graphic design I try also to design books in an interesting way and find a good solutions for composition of the book. When I illustrate a book I feel like a stage director making a film. And like a stage director I like to think about psychological character features of the main heroes of the book and relationships between them, analyse that and reflect this in my illustrations.
Tell us about an interesting illustration project you were involved in.
My second children's book I illustrated and that was published by a publishing house, was “The Great-grandfather's stories” of Joseph Shapira.
This was a very interesting project for me and like I said earlier when I was working on this project I felt exactly like a stage director making a film. It was a kind of challenge because there were many heroes in the story – Great-grandfather, Great-grandmother and many grandchildren of different ages.
I thought about every hero of the story and tried to imagine the physiological character of each and everyone. There was little quantity of written text in the story, so I had an unlimited field for imagination about the main heroes and I really liked this situation. I chose clothes and haircuts for every hero and invented scenes of interaction.
In one illustration there were great-grandparents and many grandchildren celebrating the Sabbath.
In order to draw this illustration I had to answer many questions. How the Great-grandmother looked? If her husband is a teacher, she must look like an intelligent women. There are many children around a table. What are the relationships between them? What is the behavior of everybody at the table? What are the emotions of everyone during this celebration? Does everybody enjoy the celebration or is somebody bored? Who interacts with whom? Does everybody take part in talking or are there several people who don't take part in talking and just talk with one another?