Simona Ciraolo

Simona Ciraolo is a Sardinian born author and illustrator who studied animation at the National Film School in Turin, Italy, before moving to the UK where she undertook an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. She has worked as a freelance 2D animator for children’s TV shows and illustrated five picture books for an independent Italian publisher. In 2014, Simona won the Sebastian Walker award for her work in children’s picture book illustration. Her style is charming and playful, inviting warmth to the imaginative tales she creates. Before the release of her first picture book with Flying Eye Books, Simona took the time to answer a couple of questions about what makes her tick.

Simona, what inspired your work?

Anything that I made, and that I had been happy with, had always been the outcome of an insight of some sort. In fact, I tend not to invest energy in projects that do not resonate with me in one way or an other: thorough understanding of a particular mood or feeling is what motivates me to develop an idea. My illustration work is always built around a narrative because it serves the purpose of exploring a mood or the process of growth in one of the characters.

I also find that the choices I make when I work on my drawings are affected by the things I would see on my walk to the studio: the light at that particular time of the year, the colour in the backyards, the shape of the houses. I look at everything and I try to make a mental note of it.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I usually like to have a very clear idea of what I am trying to say with a book before I begin to put pencil to paper, I want to be sure of the kind of tone I need to adopt. I guess it would be safe to say that about 70% of the work I put into a project happens in my head! Once a book has taken shape there, I usually trust my instincts and let the drawings happen without thinking about them too much, allowing them to take the direction they want, trying not to domesticate the intuitions I had to begin with.