Q&A Christina Christoforou Illustrator of ‘This is Gaudi’

What artists/people/cultures have influenced you most?

I think I have been deeply affected by various female artists with a ‘theatrical’ quality to them; Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager and Frida Kahlo to name a few. I have always enjoyed the boldness of their artwork and how it makes you think of stories. That last part is what I always aspired to in my own work.  The biggest inspiration fοr me though has been music and album covers. That is what made me decide that I wanted to create artwork of some kind when I was a teenager.

What does creativity mean to you?

I think that creativity is allowing yourself the freedom to transform your experience of the world into something else, of any kind. Judging from my own experience, I would say by allowing children to be bored and left on their own devices, you give them freedom and independence to make decisions and not labelling them as this or that.

What has fueled your creativity over your lifetime?

Observing human behaviour and also looking at animals.

What has been the biggest change in your field since you first entered it?

It’s a lot easier to create artwork now because of all the tools in our hands, so there is a lot more illustration being produced. Also, everyone is looking at everyone else’s work all the time because of social media, over-influencing one another.

Did you have an exceptional teacher?

In art, I certainly did not. In fact, at school, my teacher was a bitter old man who for some reason that I still escapes me gave me the worst grades I ever had, despite the fact that I was otherwise a good student

How do you think we can better encourage artistic creativity in children who don’t have exceptional teachers?

A teacher certainly helps but I don’t think it’s all about the teacher either. As i mentioned earlier, i think what helps is freedom and some level of independence, some tools but not too many and showing interest in children’s thoughts and ideas without rewarding them all the time.

What do you think is important for children to practise in the world today?

Collaboration

If you have children, do you practise art with your own children? What do you tell them to do in order to improve their artistic skills?

I don’t have children, but I did a couple of workshops with some 8-year-olds a while back, and I remember it was more the other way around.

We were making an imaginary city out of scrap material, and I asked this girl “where are the windows?”, just to start a conversation. She replies “they will be made out of lemonade”. “And how will they open and close,” I ask. “With a straw,” she said, “you suck the lemonade to open them and spit it back out with the straw to close”. So gross and so brilliant. What do you add to that? Only an 8-year-old could come up with it I think.

What inspired ‘This is Gaudi‘?

Gaudi was fascinated with nature and organic forms,  so on one hand this was intentionally very present in the book, natural elements. The other thing that was inspiring was Gaudi’s self-torturing nature and his deeply religious life.

What do you do to reignite inspiration when it seems to have dried up?

I often get fearful of the blank paper and that can be very tough. I find that it helps to draw about the very thing that stops me, about not having any ideas. I have a collection of ‘i have not ideas’ themed artwork, mostly terrible, but it helped.

What are your main unfulfilled ambitions?

To reach a point where I never have fear of the blank paper

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