Nonfiction takes on an exciting new twist in this creative and imaginitive new book, WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, illustrated by Susan Batori. She stopped by to tell us more about it, all the way from Hungary!
e: What was your creative process/medium for WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, can you walk us through it?
Well, my creative process is the same for almost all of my books. The very first step is to search the web for reference photos for the characters of the book. This book was special because it includes non-everyday animals. These guys are not ususally found in storybooks. Then I started to draw the characters. I work in Photoshop digitally I just rarely do pencil sketches. The next step of my process is to design the pages. Things get in place at this stage. Together with the art director, we already knew that almost every page would look like an investigator's desk with mug shots, rap sheets, notes, post-its and so on. So I worked on this for a while. After the sketches were accepted there only one step left: the coloring. And tadah, the book was finished.
e: You chock each spread so full of information in such an interesting and engaging way - was the layout your idea, or your art directors? (If yours, how did you come up with it?)
When the work starts with a publisher I always get the comp pages in pdf with the illustrations notes and with the texts. I need to know how much text will be put on the pages and how much space will remain for the illustrations. In this case the art director, Marie Bartholomew, showed me her idea about the layouts. I just added a few things: the sheriff badge, the magnifier, the pencils or the handcuffs which made the scene a little funnier. I prefer if I can design the pages but this was an amazing collaboration because Marie and her team were very open to my ideas. It was a pleasure to work together.
e: What was your path to publication?
In 2012, I was approached by Good Illustration Agency that they would like to represent me, because they liked my portfolio which were on, where artist can feature their works. I was happy to say yes. There is a great connection between us and it's very good to work together. They are like my family. From then I got more and more job offers from different publishers all over the world.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM?
Yes, I thought first that one of the character of the book are not a real one. I thought this was only invented by the author (Heather Tekavec) I've never heard of the Satin Bowerbird, who collects only blue things. There is always something new to learn. Haha!
image via Wikimedia Commons, © Joseph C Boone

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?
Yeah, I know this kind of art. It comes from the heart, can be made without effort. There are no rules, limits or boundaries that are hinder into the work. I feel completely free when I create and this can be felt by the viewer. It feels like my soul is holding the pencil.
e: Oooo - I love that! "It feels like my soul is holding the pencil." Wow. How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I think I am extremely lucky because my agency do it for me. I have an Instagram and a Facebook account too where I can communicate with my followers and I can advertise here the books I illustrated.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
That is interesting because the favorite and the most challenging part of being a creator is the same for me. Being alone in my studio. Once I feel it is so good to work alone and another time it is the opposite. I worked as an art director earlier in a team, so I miss that a little bit but this kind of life is very magical. Oh, actually I'm not completely alone, I have a coworker, my cat, Kamilla. :)
e: Fuzzies make good employees! Is there something in particular about WANTED! CRIMINALS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Our world is beautiful and unique with these particular and funny species and our duty is to protect them because we are richer by them. I do hope children will discover this message in the book.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am working on a very funny book right now. It is a story about a bear and a woodpecker. My upcoming work is about the friendship of a whale and a little penguin. My dream project? Anything which is funny and the main characters are animals. It's easy to make me happy. :)
e: Thank you, Susan, for sharing your joy! I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Thanks again!

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