Babbling with Ana Kadoić
When we invited Ana Kadoić to take part in a children`s workshop “Mixed technique – relation of picture and text”, she has mentioned that the name of our project Living water, living stories reminds her of saying Still water runs deep. It doesn`t suprize us because, we dare to say, it strikes us that Ana Kadoić, an universal artist , unites Living and Still waters in a nice, subtile way. For the rest of that matter, here`s our interview with her 🙂
Ana, since the beggining of your work in illustration, you have expierence with working for big as well as small publishers, but also with your own editions. How can you compare those expierences in creative and technical way?
I have worked with most of the publishersin Croatia and with some abroad. With big publishers I have mostly worked on school books, and with small ones on picture books and illustrated books for children. There is always a bigger team working on school books (authors, editors, designers, often more than one illustrator), and it is usualy a “factory” work, with shorter deadlines and less time for creative development. School books have some rules and standards, which is understandable, since they have a specific purpose. But, the results are often dissapointing, since there is no real communication in order to build a visual identity. Mistakes are sometimes made even by choosing the “wrong” illustrator (as if they`re saying: “Ok, you work like this, but can you do it like that, for us?, “Why haven`t you ask xy, he works like that?”) Communication between illustrator and designer usualy doesn`t exist, everything is submitted to short deadlines. Editor`s job most often doesn`t include visual editing, editors usualy don`t know what to do with it, why should they, since that`s not their field. That`s the publisher`s oversight, not emplying a visual editor, mot of them probably don`t consider it neccesary.
Working with small publishers, everything is more personal, there is more communication, deadlines are more flexible, an illustrator has more freedom, Communication between writter and illustrator is being encouraged. Those experiences are mainly positive. Sucessfuly collaborating teams of editors, writters and illustrators are being formed.
Publishing my own editions is a new thing for me, that I have leraned alot from, and I am still learning. I have published four books on my own (from which two with my colleague, Melita Rundek), with the funding support of Croatian Ministry of Culture. Here, “you`re in charge” from the beggining to the end of process, and that brings responsability. It is important to have co-workers you trust, like a good printing-house. And there`s a matter of distribution. Ministry of Culture can buy a significant number of copies for libraries, but in a retail, a small amount is being sold. A number of printed copies is quite small, so we gave just a several copies to some small book stores in Zagreb. Those books are, also, not among the cheapest, and here is also the question of marketing, people simply don`t know about the book. I was thinking about a web shop on my page, because we were getting e-mails of people asking us how to buy the book, so it could be ordered directly. Then here is the question of taxes, paperwork, reciets…
Among different collaborations, the one with Melita Rundek is often mentioned. You have worked with her on a several books, such as “Daddy`s medal”, “The girl who fell asleep in a plate”, “About fear and the lion tamer”. How did you come up with that collaboration, and why does it maintain? Do you find stories or stories find you?
I met Melita when I was illustrating her book “Mirko and seven objection” for the publisher Golden Marketing, 6-7 years ago. We recognized each other by similar creative approach and energy. We found our collaboration and the result very satisfying. More projects with the publisher “Sipar” followed. I was mentioning such collaborations, where creative ties and good teams are being made. People recognize each other by similar sensiblity. I think that every illustrator meets stories he needs to meet, it`s a mutual process.
Illustration is not your only occupation, you also make solo art exhibitions through which you deal with process, things being unfinished, pure visual phenomena, and making a “gap” between idea and matter where focus and tension take place… It does sound quite different from your illustration work, but the handwritting of Ana Kadoić can be recognized in both. What do you think connects your shows “Visible and invisible” and “Backwords” to your children`s books “At grandma`s” and “Why I like bedtime” In other words; what is similar and what is different in your approach to children and to adults?
I used to consider myself a “serious” artist. Illustration came later and I was seeing it as a kind of my “off-scene”, not less important, but definetly separeted from my main work. As those processes have a life of their own, they inevitably started to form a relation between each other, and somehow, they grew closer. Shedding layers and becoming more “my own” they became more similar. Both worlds deal with sometning latent, unspoken, with more than one meaning, although they differ in form.
What is a good children`s book for you? Does it take to consider also some gap for creating a focus and tension in child`s perception of a book content?
A quality book for children speaks to both, children and adults, it can`t be outgrown. It reffers to content and form. What is important is that children are not being underestimated by serving them banalities and empty schemes, so wrongly misteken for simplicity. Us, adults, are to be reminded that the greatest truths and the best solutions are simple. Children understand that, and a lot more, intutivly, although they can`t articulate it rationally. A quality book asks questions and opens space for creative thinking. These are the kind of books I want to make.
Your illustrations were transformed into an animated film, and you have started to work on digital books and collaborate with musicians. What is thinking in terms of different media bringing to you and how they can communicate with children, comparing to a printed book?
It all started when the director Miran Miošić offered me to make an animated film based on a book “Bjelobrk`s lemonade” by Rozalija Ovčar, which I have illustrated. I was the main designer and a scenographer, the film was produced by Zagreb film.
It has litteraly opened new worlds to me; thinking in categories of movement, time, sound, close collaboration with the director and animators, different from the illustrating, which is, mainly, a solitary job. Things I wanted to come alive needed to be explained, desicions about things I merely anticipated had to be made. There had to be a work rate, deadlines you couldn`t miss by alot, because animation includes studio-timetable, schedules of other co-workers and a considerable budget, so definetly a discipline and a team work. I very much want to stick to that world.
Digital book appeared as an extension of printed book, and an answer to the crisis in publishing in Croatia, but also because of the creative possiblities of new media. I don`t like the general complains about the printed book becoming extinct because of digital, nor the detesting new media as alienating. Let`s rather take care of the quality of the content, it can come in different forms, which have different advantages. So that`s where the idea of digital children`s book comes from; it is interactive, it can include sound, animation, their price is much lower, it is ecological, doesn`t take space, it`s easily portable. And to the authors, it offers completely new creative possiblities, avoiding many issues and expenses (printing, distribution). It can be polylingual, and the market is, litteraly, the whole world. That is in constant change.
Printed book will always have it`s advantages, and it definetly should be offered to children. It will never be the same treat to me to curl up in bed or in favourite caffee with a tablet or laptop, as it is with a book. But to some new kids, it will. And what can be done about it. And that`s ok.
an interview regarding the project “Living water, living stories”, as a part of the Croatian participation as the guest at The Children`s Book Fair in Bologna, 2015.