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Illustrator Spotlight with Anat Warshavsky

Process, style, color and influences: get to know the talents behind the illustrations we love

Illustration: Anat Warshavsky

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to a creative career.

I am a freelance illustrator and creator, an illustration lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) and I conduct workshops in the field. The areas in which I create are diverse and change from project to project. I illustrate children's books (and even started writing one myself), illustrate for newspapers and magazines, create exhibitions, design characters and graphic-illustrative languages ​​for various campaigns, create illustrations for animation, and more.

I learned that it is very important for me to create without obligation or a client's brief. I need to be able to find the time and place for creativity that does not depend on or aim to please anyone else. The independence of creation is essential and helps me understand what I like to do, what interests me, and what materials and techniques I want to experiment with, and contributes a lot to my development. Usually, things that I create for myself come back later to help me find original solutions and ideas that I would not have been able to come up with on demand.

How did you find your medium and style, and who and what influenced you? I like to do strange and funny creatures from different materials, collages, mobiles, boxes with a 3D scene inside, intuitive painting, and more.

I used to do this from a very young age. I have always loved to draw, sculpt, create, and above all invent my own techniques and rules. I always liked to collect things and make something new from them or fill whole pages with hundreds of strange and funny fish. I’ve developed and perfected my style over the years, thanks to the visual communication studies at Bezalel, but my original foundation has been there since childhood.

My parents really liked to read us stories, and to this day they still have an impressive and high-quality collection of children’s books from which they read to our children even today. I am the youngest sister in a family of 4 children and my older brothers influenced me a lot. They heard music at home and saw movies and series that greatly influenced me in terms of programming and visuals. One of the most watched movies in our house was the animated movie "Yellow Submarine" from 1968. From a very young age, I was fascinated by surrealism, the freedom, and the humor in it. We also liked to sit together and watch "The Simpsons" a lot. This type of humor, together with the books, movies, and music that I absorbed as a child formed a kind of visual and conceptual way of thinking that goes with me and develops over the years.

What subjects are you most fascinated with? I have the most desire and motivation to create materials and colors. I really like playing with different materials and creating new things from them. The hands and gut intuition lead the way and the head joins in later stages. That's why it doesn't really matter what the topic is—the path and the experience are more important. Many things happen by chance which is why it is so important to dedicate time to experiment and playing at the same time as work. I find rational connections while working. It's amazing to discover every time you can tell a story or express very clear ideas even if you didn't plan everything in advance.

How do you create characters, what inspires them, and how do you use color? I enjoy playing with proportions and perspectives. For me, there is no difference between designing a character and designing the environment or other objects. The character is an integral part of the world I created for her. The creation of a world is the creation of a set of rules and DNA from which all the elements in that world are made—the color scale, the point of view, the type of line, etc. When I receive a text I read it over and over and try to feel and imagine this world. I take a large sheet of paper and start scribbling without thinking. While scribbling, figures and shapes emerge and the pace of the story is also clearer to me. The text plays in my head as I go along and affects the way I make the spots or lines.

I really like strong and basic colors, almost primary colors. Sometimes I add mixed or pastel shades but mostly I start with black-red-yellow-blue-green-white. However, I don't have one favorite color. I really like all colors and sometimes I try to work with a color that at first seems ugly to me. I'm trying to find ways for it to work and be cool.

If you had to pick a favorite project, which one are you most proud of and why? One of the first things I did when I turned to an independent path was to look for a challenge that would give me a framework and a clear schedule. I really wanted to create picture books and searched the internet for book illustration competitions. I came across the 'silent book contest' of the Italian Carthusia Edizioni. On their website, it was detailed the criteria and format for book submissions, and the most important of them was, of course, that the book must be without words. A book without words is not a book without a story. There are many different ways to tell a story without words and in the visual world it is sometimes even required. It was not a simple challenge at all—the illustration part was very easy for me at the time but I had no experience in writing and planning a storyline. After working for a few months I completed the task and a great book came out that I was also very proud of. To my delight, I was selected among the 8 finalists in the competition and presented my book at the Bologna Book Fair in 2017. Unfortunately, I did not win first place so the book was not published in a printed edition, but it continued to roll forward and a digital book publishing company from Copenhagen (Piboco) was enthusiastic about it and published it in a digital and interactive edition.

The reason I am proud of it is not only because it was chosen and succeeded, but because I dared to try something new and really believed in myself. Maybe that's why I especially enjoyed and felt liberated while working on it. The book is not perfect and it has quite a few flaws, but today I try to find the freedom I had when I created it. There will always be flaws and the fear of them can be paralyzing. In that project I allowed myself to make mistakes and it turned out wonderful.

What’s next for you? I continue to illustrate and create, increase my teaching position, and have interesting projects all the time. Mostly, I want to make more time for my own things. I want to continue creating for and together with clients and partners but I really want to let myself be who I am and that means thinking less and getting my hands dirtier...

Rapid Fire Round - Choose one answer! you can add a few words if you like :)

Weekend - lounge in bed / go out and party? Even before I had children I would not sleep late. I'm not a party girl either. I prefer to travel, meet friends and family and do housework.

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Cats or dogs? We have a cat and a dog but I'm actually a cat lady.

Favorite season? Fall

Cinema or Netflix? Cinema!

Pool or beach? I live right by the beach

Computer or sketchbook? Paper


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