Astrid Castle was saam met Elizabeth Wasserman die wenner van vanjaar se M.E.R.-prys vir 'n geïllustreerde kinderboek vir Die Dingesfabriek. Astrid is die illustreerder van dié boek, en ek het met haar oor haar werk gesels.
Is there a particular scene in the book that was the best for you to illustrate?
Gosh its hard to pinpoint exactly which scene was my favourite but when I chat to people or show them the books I do enjoy the introduction of the laboratory and the house in 'Op die Maan' and the scene where Oupa bounces on his bottom in zero gravity on the moon. Apart from all the adventurous underwater scenes in 'Onder Die See' i enjoyed the scene where Oupa's innocent and enthusiastic aid gets him into a bit of trouble when he gives one of his inventions, a 'SUPER-lolly-pop' to a screaming child sitting next to him on the public bus only to have the the now calm child's hair turn blue a few seconds later. The mom was not impressed. I laughed so much in drawing that! In the third book, 'Krimp', I really enjoyed the action scene with Oupa's new device when it accidentally turns into a shrinking machine not to mention Kriek escaping the crows talons in the garden once she got herself shrunk! Vey exciting! And in 'Die Tydmasjien'....well i LOVE dinosaurs so this book was like heaven for me to illustrate. I still have a good laugh at the scene where they come across Professor Snol's campsite and find him hiding up a tall tree. Very soon afterwords Kriek saves the day by using one of Oupa's inventions (Oupas inventions always have a dash of something extra special) when a young but incredibly dangerous carnivore called a Carcharodontosaurus almost attacks them. "Go Kriek!" How could you not have fun drawing that
How do you decide what to show and what to leave to the imagination when you create a picture?
Hmm good question, well just imagine the book you are reading at the moment unfolding like a movie in your mind and all of a sudden you had to freeze frame on one image that best describes or summarizes the scene you have just read. That is how I work through a manuscript. I let it play out in my mind from page to page and keep the essential elements included that will best describes visually what has just been happening. What to leave out, well thats a tricky part, especially when you have a story that is so rich with fantastical elements that you would love to add it all. Some scenes, like the grandfathers laboratory and Prof Snol's office lent itself to adding as much detail as possible but often the saying 'Less is More' comes into play when you're drawing out your snippet of the recently unfolded scene.
How does the cooperation between you and the author of a book - do you even small concept sketches, the author gives you ideas in terms of the illustrations, or create your full illustrations without input from the author?
I find that rough sketches of each scene in the story really helped for everyone to see how the story would read visually and possibly what could be edited in the manuscript or tweaked further in the illustrations. It was rewarding working with Elizabeth's writing as the stories are so richly descriptive that it made it rewarding for my imagination to visualise the scenes unfold!! I really enjoy our team!!
Do you have a perfect young readers in mind when you create your illustrations?
Ooh another good question and the first image that came into my mind was a scene of a younger version of myself curled up under a blanket with a torch to read the adventures into the night or lying on my tummy on the lawn with the sun on my back, imagination bliss. So with this in mind I guess i could say that I illustrate not only for the children that read the stories but also for the children within us that always enjoy a fantastical narrative.
Which illustrators are your heroes?
I grew up being greatly inspired and loving the work of Eric Kincaid (Esp his Wind In the Willows book), Roald Dahl plus the illustrative painters such as Norman Rockwell and Carl Larsson. And of course I loved just about any comic I could get my hands on. I am so inspired as an adult by the more contemporary work of Chris Ridell, Alexis Deacon, Emily Gravett, Patric Ness to name just a few.