For this month’s The Illustrator Corner, we would like to introduce illustrator Kiki Klimt!
Kiki lives in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. She has been illustrating for over 21 years, ever since her first book was published in 1998. She has her Bachelor’s in Painting, a Master’s in Sculpture, and a Ph.D. in Visual Storytelling.
Although she has several degrees in art-related topics, Kiki says that most of her learning has come from the people she has met and other life experiences.
According to Kiki Klimt, inspiration can be found everywhere, whether in the different colors that spring brings, or the people she talks to on a daily basis.
Kiki says, “I am a lucky person because I am synergetic and I can hear colours and see music. Sometimes all five senses combine into one big taste of a new world. So, my inspirations come from everything I can sense.”
She has illustrated for all different types of genres, ranging from children’s literature to adult literature to Playboy Magazine. She claims that her wide variety of creating comes from the desire to tell a story through her work.
“They say children paint to understand the world around them. I am still like a little child; I play with colours and lines to understand life. I do not illustrate to make a beautiful picture, but to communicate the essence of a story.”
Shaun Tan, Rebecca Dautremer, Ayano Imai and Edmond Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, Kay Nielsen, Leonardo da Vinci, and Botticelli are just some of Kiki’s favorite illustrators and painters.
When Kiki first starts working on a project, she reads the piece several times through while meeting with the author as many times as possible.
Then, she tries to forget about the project but keeps her mind open for inspiration. Once that inspiration hits, she sets out searching for visualization. Occasionally, that means taking a walk in nature, other times it means reading a book or looking at a picture. In her own words: “Sometimes I do not need anything and sometimes I need everything.”
Once she can visualize a project, she begins to sketch out what is in her head. Usually, she starts with something small, like a character or a relationship. She keeps drawing and meets with the author and editor quite frequently to make sure that everything is going according to plan.
Since all of her illustrations are done by hand, she must be prepared to rework the illustrations several times before producing the final drawing.
The Illustrator Corner – Kiki’s Step-by-Step
Here is Kiki’s process of illustration, in her own words:
Process of Illustration
This is a work-in-progress for a very special book about the oldest instrument in the world, a Tidldibab, which was found in Slovenia.
1. I had the exact place of this discovery, so I went to see it.
2. There I found some interesting details in a cave, which I have used in a book. There were some little creatures in the cave.
3. I made my first sketch there, while Tinkara Kovač, the author of the book, was playing a flute in the cave. I always have my notebook with me.
4. When I came home the melody was still in my ear, so my first thought was music. Music as a composition of a book and a golden ratio because everything in nature is in a golden ratio and Fibonacci spines. It is the harmony of music.
5. Then I had some numbers for the dimension of a book.
6. After that, I made a dummy of a book and combined both text and pictures into one.
7. When this was approved, I started with a finalisation.
7.1. This one was fun. The illustration was quite long.
8. When I have the final illustration, I meet the author again for finishing touches.
9. Finally, I put it in a book. I always design the book to final product.
10. It is the same with some other parts of a book.
11. For this book, I was so thrilled to be able to make a complete installation, with an exhibition of the book as a bigature.
Illustrations by Kiki Klimt