Born in Portugal in 1985, Catarina Sobral is a published author and illustrator. After studying Graphic Design, she graduated in Illustration in 2012. Her illustrations are a regular presence in editorial, album covers and posters, and she has ten books published in eleven different languages. Her work has been exhibited both in solo and group shows in many places around the world and recognized by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Portuguese National Illustration Award, the Portuguese Authors’ Society, the White Ravens catalogue and the 3x3 magazine.
Interview with Catarina Sobral
When did you start drawing and why?
I never stopped drawing; everyone starts during childhood, the difference is that illustrators don’t stop drawing when they start writing, like almost everybody else. Actually, we don’t stop drawing all kinds of things when we start drawing letters.
What artists or things inspire you?
Many illustrators inspire me as well as designers, painters, filmmakers, poets, writers, comedians. So many people and things inspire me that I can’t make only one list, but sometimes I pay homage to them (my books Greve, O Meu Avô and Tão Tão Grande are filled with references to those inspirations).
The Bauhaus designer Johannes Itten said: “Colors are primordial ideas, children of the aboriginal colorless light and its counterpart, colorless darkness... Light, that is the first phenomenon of the world, reveals to us the spirit and the living soul of the world through colors.” How does your work relate to this idea?
There are many types of contrast, the most important one being the black/white contrast. I almost always use that one on my illustrations. I also work with hue-contrast in my illustrations; (which I learned reading Itten’s The Elements of Color). I read that book because I felt I didn’t understand a thing about colors, and now I use the two or three easiest types of contrast that exist and everybody asks me how I use the color so wonderfully... I guess that’s because I’m not very adventurous and one just can’t fail using pure, contrasting colors.
In your children’s book ‘O Meu Avô’ (My Grandad) you connect beautifully a certain idea of time with color, tell us about this relationship.
The book is about two characters who have different experiences of time and the rhythm of daily life. So I decided to show the contrast between them using single page illustrations, similar compositions, and different background colors. Also, working with two complementary colors (red and green) to reiterate the idea of juxtaposition. The illustrations were done overlapping acetates painted with acrylic scraped with a box cutter; using the same principle as in linocut or woodcut printing. This means that the book was originally designed to be printed in spot colors with overprint, therefore taking their saturation to the most, working with light and contrast.
Name three books/movies you love.
Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati)
Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
Toda Mafalda (Quino)
What do you want to transmit with your work?
Actually I don't want to communicate a fixed message. I want readers to enjoy the journey, just that.
Where is home?
Haven’t found it yet.
Why is art important for children?
It helps with literacy, all types of literacy (you can read an image or a dance), and enhances creativity. Art teaches children to think through metaphors. Literature creates readers, visual arts create the possibility of reading and thinking through images, to think music with sounds, dance with movement. All those types of literacy are equally important."
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Watch O Meu Avo book trailer: