‘Illustration is a passion and a way of life, and reading an illustrated book has three levels’, affirms Javier Zabala: the first reading is the illustration; the second, the text, and the third and most important, the tension between the last two. The third only occurs in the brain of the reader and each person reads differently, ‘that is the magic of illustrated books’.
Zabala (León, 1962) is a long-time illustrator and recognised in Europe and America, author of tens of books for children and adults translated in various languages, he has been awarded the National prize for El soldadito Salomón (SM), finalist to the Andersen Prize, etc. At the same time he teaches other artists. Amongst his works he chooses Bartleby and Hamlet as his favourites, published by Nordic and recommended to adults and teenagers.
‘For many years now I have been interested in the relationship between reason and intelligence vs. emotion and sensibility when I am starting a new project, or when I look at my colleagues’ works. For me, a project has to be an illustrated book and I think that for a book to be a good book it must originate from a good, backbone idea. But I don’t believe at all that it can leave it at that: emotion, subtlety, suggestiveness, poetry and metaphor should all be part of the materials that make up a good book’. ‘For me, books have always been related to theatre, with an active scenography. An interesting book for me, is one in which ideas and emotions meet.’ ‘I understand illustration as a language parallel to text’.
has recently published Árboles
, by Mario Benedetti
and he is preparing a version of Prosa del Transiberiano de la pequeña Juana de Francia
, by Blaise Cendrars
, which he describes as his most enjoyable work yet. Below is the interview he gave for Canal Lector
Zabala: ‘I am always drawing. My favourite part of leading workshops is the feedback, I have often changed my professional work after a workshop. I believe that in this world 20% is talent, 80% is work, and you still need to know how to sell your work. However, I think illustration has now come of age and is its own language’.