What came first the book or the interest in trees?
Well, the book of course. Then we became more and more passionate about trees.
Research for the book
What did you hope to achieve when you started to work on this project?
Well, we wished to realise someting fresh, not boring. For children and for adults, without excluding anybody. The first difficulty was to find a way to be discretely narrative, to tell a little history among the pages that little children could easily recognize, but also to have at the same time very precise illustrations, close to the science, to real nature.
So the main difficulty was to combine these differents objectives, and after many storyboards we decided to separate the double pages in two different aesthetics: one page with a schematic three, growing, started to face another page with specific details connected to the texts. See our process here.
What influences come to bear on the design and style of your illustrations?
First of all a lot of ancient images from Herbaria, for the precise drawings and for the elegant compositions as well. In general, we were inspired by many different scientific images, especially the images that come with a classification (for example the successive shapes of the leaves, etc) or some very clear ways to describe a specific part of a tree. And then some contemporary Japanese illustrations, that suggested to us to use the white colour to make the tree on the right of the book more abstract, universal and schematic.
How consciously did you work to suit the publisher’s taste in books, or did you have carte blanche to make what you wanted?
Paolo and Giovanna of Topipittori are very open to many different styles of drawing. They didn’t impose one style on us, they gave us a lot of freedom and time to look for the best solution in order to illustrate the book. They just asked to keep a sort of strong connection with nature – do not invent but observe and represent how the nature looks like. That was the guideline.
Was the book a new departure for the publisher, design, content, audience wise?
This books belongs to a series of book called PINO (Piccoli Naturalisti Osservatori) that aims to make the nature close to the children.
So, it is rather a sort of on-going process and we are really happy to be part of it.
L’Albero cover visual