Thursday, September 13, 2012

Liora Grossman

How is it that you came to be an illustrator/artist?
I was born in Lithuania in 1966, during the soviet regime. Western children's literature was strictly forbidden throughout the Soviet Union. 
My parents, who where active freedom fighters back in the day, would not put up with this form of intellectual oppression. They have spent every Rubal they could spare on smuggled books from Europe and the U.S.A (That was a capital offense that could have gotten them a one way ticket to Siberia).
One time my mother managed to buy a torn up copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Ricki Ticki Tavi", and smuggle it to our apartment under the watchful eye of the K.G.B officer, who worked the 
Lift in our building. She sat me down and read it to me, before she even took off her coat. I thought the story was amazing but the illustrations – not so much. I forced my mom to go back (after all, she did have her coat on) to the store, and get me a notebook. Then – I made her rewrite the story on the left pages of that notebook, 
And carefully added a more suitable illustration to the right side of every double spread. That was my first experience as an illustrator. I was 3 years old at the time, and never looked back. There was nothing else I wanted to do with my life ever since.

Did you go to art school?
I have studied in the Bezalel academy of fine arts in Jerusalem. 

Were there one or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator/artist?
Is there anyone that continues to influence you?
To me, that is a 2 part question. When I was in art school I had 2 teachers who have influenced me in very different ways. The first teacher thought my work was terrible.
She once called me after class and told me, that I should probably go to a technical school, and become a printer, as I will never ever become an illustrator.
The 200 children's books I've illustrated since were motivated by this grim prophecy. The other teacher, was a painter, who studied in Florence, Italy, and used to teach in many art schools in Europe before returning to Israel. He told me to listen to no one. "You have an exceptional gift, and one day you will show them all" he used to say. Showing them all is what I live for to this day.
Contemplating on my career, I think that the people who have influenced me the most were other artists. I adore the old masters of European illustration such as Edmond Dulac, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter, Walter Crane and Ernest. H. Sheppard. The work of Ralph Steadman (not a children's book illustrator, but still) had a
Huge influence on me. I have studied for hours the art of artists such as Brian Selznick, Chris Riddle, Anna Juan and Wolf Erlbruch. However, the artist who has influenced me the 
Most, would have to be the Russian illustrator of the early 20th century – Ivan Bilibin. I basically owe him everything I've got.

What inspires you now?
I'm inspired by the great changes in the editorial world, and the opportunities presented to us by the new technologies. I think that the ability to create a moving and talking story in the form of digital applications is incredible. I have just finished my first app. It was made by a magical collaboration with people with enormous talent, and for no money at all. Everybody contributed just out of sheer joy and curiosity. We felt like the Wright brothers, working in their home garage, on the impossible machine that can make you fly. An amazing experience indeed.
Also I'm inspired by my students, who keep sending me all kinds of experimental stuff – from music clips to crazy art performances. They got me hooked on racy kinds of manga,and now I'm taking some classes on that subject. They help me feel young, and that's kind of nice…

Is there anything you would like to share regarding your technique or style of Work for instance?
What types of medium do you like to work in?
My technique is mixed media. Initially, I used to work with colored pencils – a technique that requires applying many layers to get a good result.
 At some point I have strained my right hand muscles while trying to meet a dead line on a book, and realized I need some kind of base before using the pencils.
The way I work now is by applying a first layer of soft colors to my drawings (I might use aquarelle or Pantone markers), and go over it with Prisma pencils.

What types of markets do you do art/ illustration for?
I usually make books for children between the ages of 3-5. Sometimes I do books for young adults.
Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Please visit my site: . The illustrations there are a few years old. I'm working on a new wonderful site right now, so until it's ready –
Please befriend me on facebook, where I post my newest stuff: 

Do you do other things regarding art like teaching, or Classroom visits?
I actually do both. I teach in various academies in Israel, but usually take a couple of years off between teaching jobs. It's kind of tough for me to be away from my work for long periods of time, although I do consider my students to be a constant source of inspiration. Classroom visits on the other hand, are something I do very often.
I'll go every time they ask me to, and visit any kind of school or kindergarten. I did classroom visits in foreign countries as well, such as Mexico, Argentina (I speak some Spanish, and illustrate for the Spanish market) and Denmark. If my students are my biggest source of inspiration – children are my biggest source of information. Children see everything,
notice small details, have a very clear opinion on what they like and dislike, and can't be fooled into thinking a boring book is actually interesting, and an ugly drawing is actually beautiful. They are the people who are most worth listening to, in my opinion.

Are there other creative interests you peruse like writing or music?
I read a lot (6-8 books per month), I write children's books (my first one is to be published in Israel by the end of 2013), and I paint on walls and objects whenever I have the chance. Basically, though, my work is also my hobby.
Do you currently have product with your images on the market? Books, gift or home products?
I have illustrated many books that were published in Israel and in Europe, but I am a newcomer to the American market. My first application, "Boxes", that was both written and illustrated by me is to be issued in October. 

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
The publishing system in Israel and Europe is a lot different than the one used in the States. Here we get to work very closely with the authors of the books we get to illustrate. That is actually my favorite part of my work. I get to meet, chat, fight and make up with some truly great minds. That is such a privilege.

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