We had a great chat with our new Plum Katarina Gasko about her life as an illustrator!
Where do you live?
I live in Ontario in Canada in the city of London. Yes, I know, it’s funny that we have a London in Canada, it’s a little bit more snowy than rainy here. I work from a room in my home.
What do you like about working there?
I enjoy working in the room in my home because it is a quiet place, I like my chair and my large white table and I have a beautiful view from the big window that I face.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love having the ability to create and draw my own characters. I enjoy being able to interact with individuals from publishing houses to create something fantastic from a simple idea, to a sketch and into a final product that we envisioned.
How do you work — what are your techniques?
I work digitally. My technique is to begin by creating a sketch, and then using it to turn it into a final illustration.
What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
My favourite things to draw are children, animal toys, cars, insects, buildings, nature and busy cities. I enjoy drawing these because I am able to play around with them in many fun ways!
Do you have one favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
There is this one bug that I absolutely love. The bug looks bizarre, because it has red pants, wears a yellow t-shirt and has blue sneakers.
What or who are you most inspired by?
My inspirations come from many other brilliant artists, from everyday things that life brings, from humorous situations, from photography and from the places that I have visited.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I have many favourite illustrators, but I admire Marija Lucija Stupica Richard Scarry, Marc Boutavant and Dušan Petričić.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
As I work alone on the daily, I like to go out with my friends, to the park and go on trips with my husband and two daughters when I have free time. One of my favourite things to do is to go to Toronto on a day trip, I love the city and I enjoy observing how people interact, live and act in the big city.
How did you get into illustration?
I studied arts and illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in the city of Bratislava in Slovakia. After graduation, I moved to Canada with my husband and daughter. I then slowly started to create a portfolio for myself, I uploaded some of my very first illustrations on the Association of Illustrators (ASIL) and after a while, publishers began contacting me. After that, I started illustrating my first children’s books and educational books and magazines.
What are your top three tips for aspiring illustrators?
Firstly, you must always make a good sketch and do research before you move on to the final illustration.
Secondly, don’t forget to believe in yourself, especially when it gets tough.
Lastly, push through, and withstand what pulls you back from achieving the progress you want!
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I used to love reading and playing with board books! I liked books that had a lot of details in the illustrations, I enjoyed seeing a busy setting and trying to figure out what was going on. Books from Richard Scarry were some of my favourite books ever, and still are! I also really like a lot of illustrations from former Yugoslavian artists, I really like their style and I still remember one of the books, it was titled Kako se radi Kuta? It means, “how do you make a house?”
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
The last book that I read was the one that I just finished illustrating! It was an adventurous love story. I really loved the style of writing that was used in the book, however it made me realize that I had a lot of work to do on this book. Since the book was very adventurous and detailed, I had to constantly imagine and create a new scenery, new action and movement and new characters. Instead of reading, I love listening to the radio, and I especially enjoy tuning into podcasts that interview individuals. I like to hear the story of someone's life, their good times and their bad times, and how they have dealt, or are dealing with it. I find myself listening to podcasts like these very often when I am working.
What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
I have to work on and finish some of the projects that I have recently started, then I plan to take a break from work to be with my family, to have some fun and to eat good food!
What’s your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is what I am doing right now! But maybe on the next level. I want to continue to illustrate children's books, work on new and interesting projects and be satisfied with the work that I do. I also envision myself meeting new colleagues, attracting more publishers and creating something that will be very worthy and valuable to me.
Welcome to the family, Katarina!