Andrés Landazábal - A Lion & Dragonfly Interview
How did you come to collaborate with Allison Wortche on Oliver's Lollipop?
My agent at the time, Alex Gehring (I’m represented by the Bright Agency), pitched me and my work to Penguin Random House/Philomel Books - and eventually made its way to Allison Wortche and her Oliver’s Lollipop manuscript. Something in my work must’ve caught Allison’s eye and I was lucky to be offered the opportunity to work on the book with her.
Being able to collaborate with Allison; going back and forth, the editing and critiquing process, has made me a better storyteller and is something I’ll forever be grateful for.
What is your favorite page of this book and why?
There is a spread where Oliver’s family all comes together to comfort him after he loses his lollipop to the giraffe. I’m really proud of it because I think through the use of color, the poses and the family’s interaction, I was able to communicate the mood and emotion in the scene.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
I was very lucky growing up that my parents surrounded me with beautifully illustrated children’s books and exposed me to amazing animated films and TV shows. Things like Madeline, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Where the Wild Things Are, Fantasia, 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty. Even at a young age I was so interested in visual storytelling. The use of images to communicate ideas and feelings seemed like magic to me and I knew, even back then, that I wanted to do something similar.
What do you think are the ingredients for a great children’s book?
I don’t really believe that there is a formula to a “great book”. There are so many different stories and styles out there, and so many different people with varied interests and experiences, it’s really what “speaks” best to that individual reader. As an artist I aim for the “less is more” approach so for me personally, I tend to lean more towards simplistic stories.
What is your favorite place to write or illustrate?
Well, it was my studio. I say “was” because I recently just moved and am in the process of getting comfortable in my new space. There are a few things though, that for me are essential. I like to have art on the walls. Work from my favourite artists to inspire me. Plants are a must. Speakers for music and a nice big window where light can come in and I can look out and see a lot of green space.
Do you listen to music while you are working? If so, what’s currently on your playlist?
I don’t have a set playlist but I do listen to the radio a lot when I’m working. Music just makes me feel good and inspires me. There are three stations that you’ll usually find me listening to in my studio; Le Mellotron, WorldWide FM and WBGO. Together they play 60s Mechanical Instrumental, Vintage Folk music, Rock’n Roll, Latin, Jazz and Disco all from around the world.
What was your favorite picture book growing up? and/or What picture book do you never tire of reading to children?
That’s an easy one, Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelman.
What children’s book (other than your own) are you recommending to friends at the moment?
Right now I’m really into The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen. It's fun, witty, and has great timing in the way the story unfolds. I can read that book over and over and over again without getting tired of it. It's brilliant!.
It’s back-to-school season in Virginia (where Lion & Dragonfly is based). We have to know: What is your favorite school supply?
Temperas but I also like colored pencils and crayons. School supply shopping always made learning so much fun!
Are lollipops your favorite candy? Or do you have another favorite?
I think readers are going to be sad to know that I’m not really into candy at all, but if a friend were to give me one as a present, I would definitely go with chocolates.
What museum would you most like to spend the night in?
The Louvre Museum, hands down. Some of my all-time favorite artists have their work in there. It’d be a joy to study and be able to look at their work up close and in person.
If you weren’t an author or illustrator, what would you most like to be? What is your (other) dream career?
I would have tried to become a chef. I’ve always enjoyed being in a kitchen, cooking and being able to recreate dishes. It really excites me - especially when I make something delicious.
What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Draw, look, read, dream a lot… and never ever give up!
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently working on two books. One is called, You, Me, We, written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus for Candlewick Press. It’s about Mahatma Gandhi's message of peace and María Montessori's method of encouraging children to embrace their inner guides, through a day in the life of a group of kindergarteners from different walks of life. And I’m also working on a series of whimsical books featuring a fun little Latina character named Reina Ramos. It’s written by Emma Otheguy and it will be released by Harper Collins.