Ask the Art Expert: Illustrating the Way Forward
This month we are exploring the world of art. Art is everywhere when you really think about it, from the beautiful work of old masters in galleries to the covers and illustrations in our books. To find out more about this, we are interviewing Marina Garciá Gurevich an architect, author, artist and illustrator. Living in a little pink house in Seville – Spain, Marina has been in the publishing world for several years as a children’s author and illustrator. Her picture books focus on educating children on culture and art, and since 2015 she has embarked on a workshop programme with the Museum of Fine Arts Seville helping children become interested in art and try it out for themselves.
Alongside her books, Marina creates other educational materials for children in a variety of mediums, including pop-up books, animation and multi-media art pieces. Marina herself enjoys travelling and nature alongside her art. We want to say a big thank you to Marina for agreeing to be the expert of the month for Ultimate Library, and a thank you to her son, Nicolas, for helping with translation.
Why did you choose to illustrate children’s books in particular?
Since I was a child I always liked to draw and I loved to fill in all the empty spaces in my class notebooks with little pictures around the texts, the sums … or whatever. My teachers didn’t really love this attitude! But then I grew up and as it usually happens to us adults, I forgot all about it and my architecture studies took me another way. Until one day I felt a great need to express myself again the way I did when I was a child.
The children’s world has always fascinated me: it is a time where everything begins and where the seeds for what we will become are planted. I recognize myself in the books of my childhood and in all the visual and artistic influences that I received at that time. To me, creating children’s books has been a way to reconnect with my own childhood.
How did you get into this line of work?
I have always been interested in culture, art, education and in looking for ways to connect all of this through literature. I really wanted to illustrate and tell about our art, our cities and our artistic heritage.
At that time, in Spain, there were no picture books for children that would tell them about these topics. There were no authors/illustrators who did this. It was clear to me that I wanted to do it and so I began to develop complete editorial projects – as an author and illustrator, which I later offered to different Spanish publishers.
Illustrated non-fiction books were my first line of work and then I also introduced fictional stories into them. This is how my books about great Spanish museums were born.
A lot of the books you illustrate are about art, why do you feel experiencing art is important for children?
I think art is essential because it explains us as human beings. That is why it is important to be able to access not only art books but also illustrated books with artistic quality to educate the eyes of children. In this time where the proliferation of images and the amount of information that children absorb, most of it of dubious quality, is so overwhelming, it is becoming more essential than ever to help them focus and take a critical look at what they see and consume. Quality art and picture books developed with great care and respect for children will help them on their way.
I know you work in other mediums, such as pop-up books and mixed media, which is your favourite and why?
I really like to experiment with the different formats and learn from the expressive capacities that each one has. Pop up books have always fascinated me because they have that relationship with three-dimensionality that allows us to see and feel images from a different, more immersed perspective.
Another format that has captivated me in recent years is 2D animation, specifically motion graphics. I have learned a lot adapting the content of my own books and developing educational projects with this format. During the pandemic, we adapted my book “Revuelo en el Museo” to this audiovisual format and this allowed me to do many online workshops with a very innovative digital product with a lot of communication capacity that was a great public success.
Who are some authors that have inspired you throughout your life?
Many artists and art books have inspired me throughout my life. I think I have kept my curiosity for books since I was a child and I love to continue discovering books that surprise me in bookstores around the world.
But I have been fortunate that, since I was a child, art was close to me through wonderful picture books such as Miroslav Sasek’s or Mitsumasa Anno’s travel and city books – which influenced me a lot.
Also the poetic books of Joan Walsh Anglund. Many years later I was captivated by the books of James Mayhew and his way of telling art to children.
The books of Benjamin Chaud and Quentin Blake for their poetry and the touch of humour in their illustrations also fascinate me.
Once again, we want to thank Marina for being our expert this month and sharing with us her wonderful work in bringing the world of art to children. You can find out more about her work with the Museum of Fine Arts Seville here.