Let’s talk about illustrated books: Let’s talk about illustrators #227: Tania Yakunova

Today I am super excited to share my conversation with the up-and-coming illustrator Tanya Yakunova! Tania’s debut comes in the form of Dr. Rekha S. Rajan’s super fun and interactive board book series, This Is Music: Horns. Y This Is Music: Drums, and it was a blast (honk) talking to Tania about her research for the project and (drum roll please)… what’s coming up next for the series! Ok, enough puns, let’s get to the point!



About the book:

Make music with this hands-on introduction to the four families of instruments: drums, trumpets, strings, and voice in this new board book series written by a world-renowned music educator.

Each title in the This Is Music series features a novel interactive musical element that invites the reader to play the book!

Let’s talk Tanya Yakunova!

LTPB: How did you become the illustrator for the This Is Music board book series, This Is Music: Horns? Y This Is Music: Drums (the latter of which recently won the 2022 Applied Arts Award Y I was shortlisted during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022!)? What were you most excited about illustrating and what were some of the most challenging moments?

TY: These are my first board books to be published. I’ve worked on interior and cover illustrations for fiction and non-fiction books (and was even nominated as a finalist for the Book Illustrators Competition in 2019), but I’ve been dreaming of getting my hands on a proper picture book project for some time now. weather. .

The opportunity came when Rise x Penguin Workshop contacted me with the offer to become the illustrator for this amazing series of board books on the perfect theme: music! I loved the idea immediately. This has been one of my favorite subjects to draw ever since I started my path as an illustrator. I had a lot of fun illustrating them, although there were challenges in finding the right balance between artistic vision and proper realistic representation of the instruments, as these are educational books.

LTPB: Can you talk about your research for this book? How did you learn about the instruments you show on each page?

TY: I have been working with the text written by the talented educator Dr. Rekha S. Rajan; there were amazing instruments from all over the world listed in the books. I didn’t know all of them; some were very sophisticated and unusual. He took time to understand their “anatomy” and how to simplify them so that they are coherent and lucid for young readers and still remain authentic. I am happy to have my husband, who is also a musician, by my side as he helped me a lot.

first draft cover

end cover

LTPB: Can you talk about your process for handwriting these board books?

TY: I quite like to use hand lettering when the text needs to be incorporated into the illustration; I think that is the best way to do it. I approach the letters in the same way as other parts of the artwork, thinking of them as part of the image. For this series, I wanted to make bold lettering for the covers to support a graphic idea and make all 4 books (yes, there will be more!) look consistent. For the interiors, I used my own type of hand-drawn “font” to make the sounds stand out from other text.

LTPB: What did you use to create the illustrations for this book? Is this your preferred medium? How does your process change from book to book?

TY: I start with pencil sketches, then move to the iPad for cleaner sketches, and then to the computer. I usually draw digitally, using Adobe Illustrator first and then Adobe Photoshop. My process may seem a bit complicated, but I’m used to it and I like the result. Though sometimes I get tired of the computer and feel like I need to go back to analog media like ink and paints.
LTPB: What are you working on now? Anything you can show us?

TY: Right now I’m working on the other two books in the This is Music series: String instruments Y Voice. String instruments is almost ready and Voice It is in the drawing phase. More to share soon! I am also preparing my big solo exhibition in Cremona, Italy, in collaboration with Tapirula Association. There will be some old and new artwork, including ink drawings and ceramic pieces. And finally, I’m about to start a very exciting postcard collaboration with a UK gift shop.

LTPB: If you had the chance to write your own illustrated autobiography, who (dead or alive!) would you want to illustrate it for and why?

TY: This is a very difficult question. It would be David McKee, whose characters have been with me since I was a child. It was an honor to meet him in person last fall in Italy and hear his funny stories. It broke my heart to learn that he passed away this spring.

Also, I recently came across this amazing contemporary illustrator, Karlota Freier, and fell in love with her works, they give me a kind of quiet, nostalgic blissful feeling, about all that I have thinking about the past. I can look at her works forever.

An ever-growing thank you to Tania for taking the time to answer a few questions about this new series of super fun board books! Both This is music: horns Y This is music: drums published in August Rise X Penguin Workshop!

Special thanks to Tania and Rise X for using these images!


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