Cristian Turdera has created a dream world for us. When I entered his place, I found myself in the middle of one of those children’s books, the ones you won’t let go, those books that will remain forever inside your deepest thoughts and fantasies.
Photograph courtesy of Paulo Fast
Getting to know Christian’s universe is like travelling inside the time machine. Suddenly I was 5 again and my grandfather would wake me up with a story, a fantastic new story he would make up for me every morning.
There I was, listening to Christian’s voice transporting me to those incredible years of my childhood. All I could think about was how great is to do what he does. He draws stories for children, he tells his own stories with endearing characters we learn to love the minute we see them. We want to be children again. Or we are, while we avidly read those books.
Cristian Turdera studied graphic design and now he combines both tasks, illustration and design, he can’t separate one from the other. That’s why his colours, shapes and lines seem to have been there forever, as if they created themselves.
Right now he works as Arts Chief at Pequenio Editor (Little Editor), a lovely children’s book publishing company. This small company published two of his books, “Queen Mab” and “Decided Song”. He also designed these books plus his other illustrated book “Pototo, three times a monster”.
Pequenio Editor is an editorial project, and this year it became more alive than ever. They just launched four new books and had a short and sweet presentation at a bookstore in Palermo, where children and adults shared their passion for reading, learning and exploring new worlds. “We edit the books we’d want to buy, that’s our criteria”, Turdera tells me.
“When studying graphic design, says Cristian, I met Elenio Pico, one of my teachers. It was the most important thing that happened to me while I was in college. He hasn’t taught me to draw but to think. I learned that illustration is about ideas more than techniques or styles. We’ve become friends; he’s the person that, in a way, forced me to do what I do now, and nothing else”.
“After that, I started drawing for a big publisher’s company, and then I became part of the Illustrators Forum. From that moment, lots of good things happened at the same time and now I’m just working with illustration”, tells Cristian. “This is just a job, like any other, it’s like being a shoemaker, if you work hard, you can succeed. I really like to work and see my work in a book, I believe books are the natural support for illustrations, I have a fetish for books, of course”, he says smiling gently.
What would you say are the best things that happened to you so far?
One of the best things that happened to me because of this job, is that those people I used to admire ten years ago have now become my colleagues. Another great thing is to see the reaction of the children when they find these stories. We recently went to one school with my father in law, and every 5 year old kid had a Pototo book in their hands, and it inspired them to make a play, a song, a bunch of letters, everything for Pototo. At that age, everyone has the same possibilities of achieving things, that is what I realized when I was there, witnessing their creativity.
You like to say you don’t make illustrations for children, though, how is that so?
I don’t make drawings for children, I draw for myself, and it’s kind of pretentious to think you would get the attention of kids just like that. I make the book I like to do, but I don’t worry about who will understand it or not. What I try to do when I illustrate is to create an understandable book that works, the most important thing isn’t making decorative illustrations but author pieces that enrich the written story. That’s an album book; it’s where illustration and text function independently, both things are equally important.
What would you like to do that you haven’t done until now?
I’d like to work with an animation project and keep creating books freely; I’d love to do so many things. Maybe I’d do some merchandising with stuff also. I did a puzzle and postcards; it’s a nice thing to work with objects.
What are your next projects?
Next year I’m travelling to Bologna, Italy, to the most important children’s illustration Fair. They invited Argentina and we’re going to an exhibition there with a group of people. It will be a very interesting experience.
Not as interesting as having discovered a whole new world, though, I think to myself. A place where people work to make us happy, people whose job is to reconnect us (the readers) with who we really are. So I leave his place with some postcards and books that magically make me absolutely happy. Who needs more than this?
Text: Gisella Lifchitz