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Illustrator Spotlight: Carla Moreno

Authologie illustrator Carla Moreno lives in a small city named Chillán, in the south of Chile. Chillan is close to a snowy mountain to the east, and to the ocean to the west, it is also known as the “city of artists”, because great Chilean artists were born there, such as the pianist Claudio Arrau and the sculptress Marta Colvin. It's no wonder Carla became such an incredible illustrator growing up surrounded by such inspiration and beauty.

Prior to becoming an illustrator, Carla was a computer science engineer, but realised her true passion was in art and illustrating children's books. She is currently illustrating a novel for older children set in Yosemite National Park and is thoroughly enjoying reading the great writing from the author and creating the scenes. This is Carla's fourth book for the same author. She is also working on a series of 5 activity books which aim to teach children to read. You can see Carla's incredible work on our author Helen A. Lacey's books, 'Let's Talk to Mummy's Tummy' and 'Let's Talk About your New Baby Brother or Sister'.

Carla's illustrations are atmospheric and warm, we just love working with her and are always thrilled to work alongside her on clients projects.


Illustrator Carla Moreno

Describe your illustration style in 5 words.

Pictorial, expressive, evocative, poetic, clean.

How would your art teacher at school have described you? “That girl is a genius”. - I'm kidding. Most likely they didn't notice me, but that description would have been great!

How did you become an illustrator? I was always attracted to the world of art, but I did not know that this could be a real job. I thought that the only thing an artist could do for a living is teaching or sell paintings to someone, somewhere. I used to work 9 hours a day as an engineer, but it was too much time spent each day on something I didn't like that much. I wanted to quit but I didn’t know how. I started painting custom watercolour portraits, but the income was occasional. One day thanks to a suggestion from Facebook I discovered the group “Ilustradoras chilenas”. Until then, I didn’t know that illustration was a thing. I mean, I knew that someone must create the images in books or movies, but I didn’t really think about it being a career. I hadn't realised that it was an industry and a job for many people. I discovered that there are many areas that need illustrators, that many people work on in illustration and that it is not necessary to be famous to be able to pay your bills with your art. That was a revelation to me, it could mean that there was a real possibility to stop working as an engineer and instead do something that I really like and also been able to make a living from it. I also discovered that it was not necessary to study for this new career in the university again, because there were many good online courses taught by some of the best artists in the industry.

I bought a graphic tablet, quickly learned how to use it and I started very seriously to prepare myself to be an illustrator. I quit my engineer job and not long after that I started receiving my first commissions. Now I live exclusively from illustration, and I continue studying.

Illustrations from Helen A. Lacey's book 'Let's Talk About your New Baby Brother or Sister'.

Can you explain the process you use when developing your characters? In chronological order:

1. First I research the character. If I can, in real life, if not, on the internet. I see photos, watch documentaries, try to understand their environment and culture.

2. I try to understand their personality.

3. I begin to create sketches, and I choose one of them.

4. I draw the character and then register their proportions and colour palette to reproduce them again.

What’s the strangest thing you have been asked to draw? I have been asked to draw many strange things, but I try to make the strange things make sense in their own world despite the strangeness. I think these animals are doing some pretty strange things:

Image of 'Ursula and the Yosemite Fire', 2019

What illustration of yours are you most proud of? This is such a difficult question! I think I am always proudest of the last thing I do. Which is good, because I feel like I'm getting better. You can see the last thing in my instagram and I’m really proud of that.

Which techniques do you prefer to use when illustrating children’s books? I love seeing the water moving on paper, but when illustrating books I like the digital technique

better, mainly for its technical advantages. It is much easier to make changes and corrections in digital art, with watercolor it is almost impossible.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process? Seeing the finished illustration and feel that it perfectly expresses the idea I tried to convey.

Do you have a favourite illustrator? The illustrator Adolfo Serra does things that for me are from another planet, which are not reached only by learning technique. I admire him, I don't understand how he can do such beautiful and poetic images.

Do you have any rituals or routines which help you to think creatively and perhaps help you to overcome periods of creative block? Taking a break has always helped me to overcome a creative block. Rest and dedicate time to

something very different, like traveling and getting to know new places in my city. But for when I don't have time to do that, I turn to my engineering resources. I follow a very structured process that helps me to finish a job.

Any tips for first time authors looking to hire an illustrator for their children’s book? I believe that the illustrator should be chosen by a person who has experience in the world of

illustration. Indie authors usually want to control everything related to the art of their project: choose the illustrator, direct them, make decisions about colours, cover design, etc. And since writers are often people unrelated to the world of illustration, they end up with a visually poor quality book without knowing it. They could solve that problem by delegating that job to an art director.

If you could illustrate for anyone, who would you choose and what are your ambitions for the future? It would be nice to create a book with Sergio, my husband, who is a writer. That is a plan for the future. I would also like to hire an agent to work for me and to dedicate myself to illustrating while I travel the world!

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