Torben Kuhlmann's EDISON

I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to have the creator of Lindbergh and Armstrong... to celebrate the newest release in his adventure mouse series, Edison. Meet Torben Kuhlmann, all the way from Hamburg, Germany, here for NorthSouth Books.
e: Hi Torben, welcome! I adore these books! What was your creative process/medium for Edison, can you walk us through it?
Each illustration in the picture book Edison was painted with watercolours over a pencil drawing. Everything starts with a rough transfer of the sketch onto the watercolour paper, which is fixated on a drawing board. The sketches in Edison are roughly the size of a credit card. Then, I start filling in some details – first, with a pencil and later with a waterproof fineliner. Finally, I use watercolour to fill in the drawing. I really like, that the drawing is visible through the watercolours. That makes it easier for me to have detailed illustrations.

e: How big are your finishes?
The finished artwork is as big as its printed counterpart. I like to work on a scale 1 : 1.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Well, there is the old expression, that a picture can tell you more than a thousand words. And I definetly believe in that. It is the whole focus of my work to balance and use the narrative potential of words and images. If you just give the reader/spectator enough information ahead of time and then confront him or her with just an image, he or she will have a much more in depth look at the content. And there, the magic of an illustration might become visible. It’s the light, the composition, the art style, brush strokes or fine pencil lines – all defining the character of an illustration and speaking to the senses of a spectator in a silent visual language. You might feel invited to project yourself into a setting or a scenery. If that’s the case, that might explain the appeal of a good illustration.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Edison?
There is indeed a short anecdote! Early in the development, I was figuring out what the actual next mouse adventure might be. I had some early concepts of a missing treasure and a rough idea that the next destination of my adventurous mice might be the bottom of the ocean. And right at that moment a letter from a young reader arrives with a drawing of a mouse in a mouse-sized submarine, asking for a deep sea adventure. After that I was confident and started my work on Edison assiduously. As a little thank-you, I sent my first mouse-sized submarine to the young reader in return.
e: How do you advertise yourself or do you?
I think the most unique way of advertising myself and especially my books are my self-directed and animated book trailers. It’s a passion of mine to do animation and combining illustrations with music, movement and sound effects. Each new book is a wonderful opportunity to do a short film about it.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I think the constant second guessing of ideas at the beginning might be the most challenging part. Is this really the best idea? Should I start anew or stop all together? The favorite part is becoming immersed in the drawing and painting process, forgetting time and human needs like eating and drinking.

e: Check out this great video of Torben at work on Youtube:
e: Is there something in particular about Edison you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
There are indeed some hidden messages in Edison. Most of them I will leave to the reader to discover, but one message I might spoil here. You are never too old or too young to follow your dream – and the young might benefit from the experience of the old as the old become energized by the daringness of the youth.
e: Will we see more in this series in the future?
I am pretty sure that there will be a least one more mouse adventure in the future!
e: YAY! So, what are you working on next?
There are too many tiny ideas in my head right now. Let’s see which one will become the next story for a picture book. But – as many ideas share a similar genre – it’s safe to say that there might be a science fiction tale on the horizon.

e: I can't wait to see it! Thanks for stopping by, Torben!
Check out the book trailer for Edison on Youtube:

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