Monday 16 July 2012

Afternoon Tea with the delightful Marta Altes

I am primped and preened, have donned my very best bow tie and polished the cake stand to near perfection and I'll tell you why. We are honoured and privileged to have Marta Altes coming to tea at Book Sniffer Towers for her VERY first interview, now that is an exclusive for you sniffers if ever I heard one.

Truly Scrumptious

We first became acquainted with Marta's delightful work when we sniffed NO! which was kindly sent to us by the ever so cheery Sarah at Child's Play - In NO! we observe a little well meaning pup as he unintentionally causes a bucket load of mischief as he tries his very best to please his family. NO! is an impeccable example of beautifully illustrated simplistic and humorous picture book and a very impressive debut. Accessible and enjoyable to all ages on many levels and very very funny indeed. This one certainly has the Book Sniffer stamp of approval.

We were thrilled when Marta agreed to come and visit us for tea so we could have a proper chin wag especially as it will be her very first interview!

We have just finished sniffing your latest picture book masterpiece My Grandpa, which we loved, what will you be working on next?

I've just finished (literally... I sent everything yesterday) the artwork for my third picture book!!! I'm so happy! It's called "I am an artist" :) It'll be published by Macmillan Children's books in February 2013!

Now I'm going to start thinking in my next project, and I'm going to set up my website... something that I've been putting aside for too long...

Which three things you would take to a treasure island?

My dog Floc, one sketchbook, and chocolate! :)

Do you collect anything?

I don't collect something in particular, apart from picturebooks :) But I do like to "collect" good memories...

What can you see from your studio window?

When I'm back in Spain I'm in a little town in the countryside close to Barcelona, and from my window, while I work I can see lots of trees and birds :) But from my window in London, it's not as lovely, although I can see a little park, and my neighbours kitchen windows (what is very funny when it's dinner time, and you see all of them cooking). I love that everyday around 5 o'clock I can hear the Ice-cream van music... It's very weird to me! We don't have this in Spain :)

What do you listen to when you are working?

mmm... difficult! It depends a lot on how I feel... or the work I'm doing... If I'm "thinking" in new projects, I can't listen music that I know because then I start singing (very poorly), and I can't focus on the ideas I'm working on.
Lately I've been listening a lot of Alt-J, Mishima, Maika Makovski, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros... among others :)

Which children's classic would you most like to illustrate?

I don't know if it's the one that I would like to illustrate the most (there are many I would like to illustrate)... but the first one that comes to my mind now is "El Patufet". It's a classic Catalan folktale that tells the adventures of the tiniest little boy who after not  being allowed to leave the house (because he is too tiny), one day he goes out to help his parents doing some tasks. It's a very surreal and funny story.

Best piece of advice you received while training?

In the MA of Children's Book Illustration, I don't think it was one tutor who told me this, but the general feeling that I think I got from the whole course was "to have fun and to experiment" while you are drawing.

Marta - Self portrait

Have you sniffed any good picture books lately?

YES! After visiting the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Tate gallery, I couldn't help it after seeing it... I bought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by her. The illustrations and the design of it are so special... It's such a beauuuuutiful book!

Who inspires you?

There are many illustrators work I love, like Herve Tullet, Beatrice Alemagna, Isidro Ferrer, Max,...
And things that happen to me or to my friends help me with my stories.

List three essential tools of your trade?

Pencils, photoshop and Watercolours. I discovered Watercolours in the MA, a couple of years ago, and right now... I don't know how I could live without them! love them!

Who should we follow on Twitter ?

You should follow my VERY good friend @birgittasif, super mr @daveshelton, @blogshank, I'm sure everybody already follows amazing @NadiaShireen and @chrishaughton, lovely @mayhewjames, Cambridge School of Art @FindUsAtBologna... How many can I say? :)

Which of your books are you most proud of?

so difficult! as I have just 2 :)
"No!" is very special for me because it was my first book, and it's given me lots of happy moments. But "My Grandpa" is very special as well, because it's a very personal story ... it was a challenge for me. Lots of things came together at the right time. In the MA, lovely Pam Smy gave a beautiful lecture about picture books on "issues", I was missing my grandpa a lot and I could see how my little nephews reacted to their very old great grandpa.

Tell us a secret....

Embarrassing and odd... I don't know how to use "green" colour... I find it terribly difficult.

What's the best thing you've ever found?
My dog Floc is not a thing... but I'm very happy for having found him :) We took him from the dog pound.

Do you create a character before a story of visa versa?

Well.. Because I'm just starting, I don't think I have a method... But I think I create both at the same time... I'm not very conscious of how it happens. If the character comes first, it might change depending in how the story evolves. Or the other way around.

Who's sketch book would you most like to snoop through?

mmm...let's see... Herve Tullet, ISOL, Beatrice Alemagna, Jon Klassen, Isidro Ferrer, Pablo Auladell...

Do you have time to draw / sketch for pleasure as well as work ?
Yes! :) I try to even if I don't have the time, to draw or write something completely different to the project that I'm working on at that moment... It helps me to disconnect and go back to the project with fresh energy.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Well... After finishing the MA, my life changed so much I couldn't believe it. I used to work as a graphic designer, and being able to work as an illustrator now, makes me feel so lucky ! Although everything still feels so unreal...
I think the happiest moment was winning the "Read it again" award... it was so exciting!!! A big honour! being such a special award where children were the ones who voted. Another very happy moment to me, was being shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's book Prize and having "My Grandpa" published in Catalan (my first language)!

THANK YOU Marta for popping by to see us it was lovely to meet you, We can't wait to sniff your next book.
THANK YOU to Sarah at Child's Play for sending us a copy of NO!

FOLLOW MARTA's Blog here!

1 comment:

  1. Having just discovered your blog, I was pleased to see this blog post. I am already familiar with Marta's amazing work. This is a really fun and insightful interview.


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