5 questions with Antonia Pesenti
We caught up with the illustrator ahead of her Rhyme Cordial book launch at Koskela.
Koskela loves Antonia Pesenti and her vibrant illustrations, which are colourful collages of drawings and textures. She co-created Alphabetical Sydney with writer Hilary Bell and it’s one of our best selling children’s books.
Recently, Pesenti struck out on her own, releasing Rhyme Cordial, a fun board book for ages 0-4. To celebrate the release, Koskela is hosting a StoryTime on Thursday, 24 May as well as a book launch on Saturday, 26 May. Her original prints (perfect for kids’ rooms) will also be available to purchase during both events.
We stole a few minutes with the very busy illustrator to ask her five questions about her craft...
What was your path to becoming an illustrator?
I am actually an architect as well as an illustrator. I studied architecture at Sydney University and this was in part my training for illustration. When I graduated from architecture I moved to Paris, to take up a traineeship with architect Jean Nouvel. I ended up living in Paris for 8 years, and this is really where my passion for drawing was fuelled. France has an amazing culture of illustration; the streets are full of drawings, on posters, in magazines, street art etc., and of course there is an incredible culture of picture books. While working as an architect I was feeding that passion for drawing and absorbing a lot of what was going on in illustration in France. It was only when I got back to Australia that I started working as an illustrator parallel to my work in architecture. I took on editorial illustration work for 10 years, working for many Australian and international magazines. When my first book Alphabetical Sydney came out (created with friend and collaborator, Hilary Bell), I decided to focus my illustration work on picture books.
What part of your illustration practice brings you the most joy?
All of it! It is such a great counterpoint to my work in architecture which can be so complex, slow and stressful. I also love the idea of my books becoming part of a child's imaginative life.
What was the inspiration for your new book, Rhyme Cordial?
The inspiration was in part the rhyming games I played with my kids on the walk to school. It was fun thinking up the rhymes, my kids were my consultants in terms of choosing the funniest.
What was your process for creating Rhyme Cordial?
The illustrations I created for Rhyme Cordial were much more graphic than I have ever done before. There was no photographic collage or textures laid over the drawings, their impact came from the shapes, colours and surprise factor. All the illustrations start with many hand drawings which are then scanned into photoshop, with the colours applied digitally. Some of the many sketches are on display as part of my mini PopUp exhibition.
What are your favourite children’s books?
I love anything by French/Italian illustrator Beatrice Alemagna (A Lion in Paris, The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty, What is a Child?). I also love all the books published by Planeta Tangerina, a Portuguese picture book publisher pushing all the boundaries. I love Carson Ellis' book, Home. I also love Cloth Lullaby, an illustrated book about Louise Bourgeois.