Updated: Mar 3, 2022
Tanja Varcelija grew up in Croatia, she currently lives in Serbia. She has been a professional illustrator for seven years and is currently working on a series of activity books, a children's cookbook and has projects with a German publisher too.
Our team here at Authologie have regularly worked with clients who have adored Tanja's work, so we approached her to ask if she could become part of our excellent team of illustrators... we were delighted when she said yes! We are so excited to share her work with us, get her paired up with our clients to illustrate for, and to share her interview with us...
Describe your illustration style in 5 words.
Clean, detailed, colourful, whimsical, emotional.
How would your art teacher at school have described you? She was super uninterested so I’m not sure what she would say... Maybe ‘I expected it from you.’
How did you become an illustrator? Well, this is a story... I have my degree as a graphic designer. Under the pressure of my parents I dropped the idea of being an artist. They claimed I would starve if I dare to be an artist, so I pushed myself to be a graphic designer. I finished school, started to work in graphic design and was just miserable. The only time I was excited and happy when my work brought me to illustration. Now you'd expect, after I'd realised this that I'd do something about it, but no. I left the graphic design industry only to dive in to the marketing industry. My fear was bigger than me. Finally, I have learned a ton, grown up a bit in the meantime and finally decided that illustration is the way to go. The Children’s books industry was always attractive to me so I started and i'm still in that same industry. It has been treating me well so far.
Can you explain the process you use when developing your characters? Hehhehe I'm not sure, let's try... After I get the brief from the client, I sketch. From time to time clients bring visuals with their briefing, so I use this in the process of sketching. The character development phase is super exciting, the character sets the mode for the whole book.
What’s the strangest thing you have been asked to draw?
I kiss but never tell!
What illustration of yours are you most proud of? I know you will hate me, but I don’t have a favourite one. The one I’m currently working on? Every book that I work on I’m super proud of and to select just one piece... Impossible.
Which techniques do you prefer to use when illustrating children’s books? I use digital media to produce my work. Photoshop is all I use.
What is your favourite part of the illustration process? My client's faces when they see it! I feed off those amazing emotions people share over art! Writing, illustrating, at the end of the day it's an expression purposely made to teach, entertain, help the child. In that light, the best part of the illustrating process is the end result, a happy child.
Do you have a favourite illustrator? Yes!!! But not just one!
To name a few Beatrix Potter, Norman Rockwell, Fran Meneses, André Franquin and so many more!
Do you have any rituals or routines which help you to think creatively and perhaps help you to overcome periods of creative block? I live near the river and whenever I have creative blocks or life gets in the way, I go for a walk there with my dog. The river just puts me in a different perspective.
Any tips for first time authors looking to hire an illustrator for their children’s book? Yes! Think about your marketing before you go and invest yourself in a certain style or illustrator. It is crucial that you are sure who the ideal buyer is. Visuals have to be appealing to that person before all else. Once you know who will buy, you will easily select visuals.
If you could illustrate for anyone, who would you choose and what are your ambitions for the future? I don’t have a specific person in mind. The story is what I’m after. So my aspiration is to meet yet another new and amazing story in the future.