Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pinoy Illustrator Interview: Liza Flores

Liza Flores, illustrator and former President of Ang INK, answers questions about her creative process and the challenge of illustrating Dear Nanay, our book which was published by Lampara Books (2014).

a. What attracted you to use paper when illustrating a book for children?

I have always loved paper! As far as I can remember, whenever I'm at National Bookstore, or any store that has paper, I'd be looking at the store's paper selection (whole sheets, cut sheets, gift wrappers, notebooks), even if I had no real use for it. In a trip to the US, I bought Manila paper, just because their Manila paper had a nice thickness, and was in a nice yellowish-crafty color. 

I think the idea of using paper was planted in my head when I got a set of Japanese bookmarks when I was around 10 years old. 

Then I discovered I was pretty good with scissors. 
b. How different is this medium to, say, water color or digital media as far as rendition is concerned?

When I use paint or colored pencils, I have to have a very clean and detailed drawing of the whole book before I can color. (1) I start by making small thumbnail studies. (2) Then, I draw all the pages again, but this time bigger, a little bigger than the book's size. I use regular bond paper and a pencil when I do this. (3) With A light box, I trace my drawings on to the actual paper board I'll be using. (4) Finally, I color my line drawings.

With paper cutouts, I can jump from rough thumbnail studies straight to cutting. I don't draw on the paper I cut. I just imagine the shapes I need, like a circle for a head of a character, then I cut. Almost any object can be simplified into simple, basic shapes. So I would cut one piece or element at a time, move things around to see what works, and build each character, scene, and page as I go along. Then, I glue the parts when I'm happy with what I have.

c. What was your approach to Dear Nanay? The story is pretty sad, but you made it appear light and cheerful.
I remember Beth Parrocha saying that whenever she got a sad story, the more she wants to make the illustrations happy. That's how I felt after reading the manuscript. 

Also, how the story was written was already easy to understand. So I figured there was room for the illustrations to be less literal. I could illustrate sending a letter via snail mail, or via email, but why not via paper airplanes? 

d. Is being an artist/illustrator your first choice of career? If not, what made you become one? If it is, what keeps you in it?

I couldn't decide what course to take when I was applying for college. I knew I liked art, and maybe something communication-related, but that was it. So I ended up choosing Visual Communication (Fine Arts), not really knowing what I'd be when I graduate. 

It never occurred to me that being an illustrator was a career until I saw INK's exhibit whan I was in college. In fact, it's funny that it never occurred to me that real people made the drawings in my favorite books. And when I saw the illustrations of Robert Alejandro, Mel Silvestre, Joanne de Leon, Beth Parrocha, I thought, hey, I'd like to do that too!

I enjoy the process of making a book. I like imagining the story and making it "real". I learn something new every time: about the materials I use, about what I am capable of, about how to tell a story better. Then, there's the happy bonus of seeing my work printed, and being enjoyed by the one reading it.


deliberatelymom said...

I am so curious on your book Dear Nanay. When you showed one of the prototypes of the illustration during the Reading Camp... I became more curious. Now that I read the interview to the illustrator... I am getting more excited to read it. I love papers. Liza Flores is sooo creative.

I can't wait to read this to my son. :)

Zarah C. Gagatiga said...

Dang, I'll be going to Lampara soon to get copies. I'll reserve one of each of title for you and Luigi.

Zarah C. Gagatiga said...

Dang, I'll be going to Lampara soon to get copies. I'll reserve one of each of title for you and Luigi.

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