If you’re looking for imaginative, funny, colour packed, characterful illustrations (with a few cats too), look no further! Aurora Cacciapuoti does this and much more, and we’re very proud to be showcasing her as our Illustrator of the Month for March.
Born in Carbonia, Sardinia, Aurora has lived between Italy and the UK throughout her professional development as an Illustrator. Working primarily in children’s books, she’s worked on more than 15 titles including her soon to be published Let’s Learn Spanish, a follow up to her book Let’s Learn Japanese published by Chronicle Books in 2019.
Continue reading to find out more about Aurora, her process, her books, and her son Alberto!
Tell us about your journey so far. How did you get into children’s illustration?
I started drawing when I was a child; it’s always been my passion, in particular since I discovered manga and anime when I was around 10 years old. Since then, becoming an illustrator has always been my dream. When I went to university, I decided to study psychology and then art psychotherapy to have a strong background, as I was also very passionate about these subjects. I moved to the UK (to the fantastic city of Edinburgh) while I was finishing my specialization in art psychotherapy; I took my degree but, while in Edinburgh, I decided to follow my desire to become an illustrator and started going to book fairs, attending workshops, and learning to screen print at Edinburg Printmakers.
I then started getting my first commissions, so when I moved to Cambridge, I decided to attend the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. What a wonderful experience it has been! I loved being a student there, and it has always been my desire to attend art school. During the MA I developed various projects, experimenting with screen printing and other techniques, and I met a lot of good friends – one of them, Sarah Finan, is now Alberto’s (my son) godmother.
Your portfolio doesn’t only feature children’s books, but also other sections like editorial and branding. Do you think it’s important for yourself, or other illustrators, to have a versatile practice?
Versatility for me is very important. I find that various types of commissions nourish each other. I find inspiration from what I am doing and, also, I like to work with various styles.
I would find it a bit monotonous to work in just one field; it is so much more enjoyable to learn new things, and when I am a bit stuck on a project, I can work on something completely different in the meantime. This allows me to get back to the other project with new breath and freshness.
At the moment, for example, I am working on a chapter book as well as on branding for a feng shui consultant, besides some personal projects. I am always thinking about the next thing to do.
You’ve worked on the book Let’s Learn Japanese and its follow up Let’s Learn Spanish (to be released soon). What was the process like with both books?
This is a project that was born during the last year of my MA in Children’s Book Illustration, where I initially created a screen printed poster during a print workshop. At that time I was just starting to study the Japanese language, and this poster project was such a useful way for me to memorise new Japanese vocabulary that I started illustrating more and more words, and dividing them into categories.
I drew each colour layer by hand – first sketching with pencil, then creating the two different layers in black (I used Uni Posca and Promarkers). I’d scan them and, with photoshop, changed colours from black to other colours and assembled them digitally. The result is very similar to screen printing, as I’d use a very limited palette. I am a very fast sketcher, as I like my drawing to be spontaneous. If I didn’t like the result, I would start all over again.
For the text and introduction, I did the research of words and kanji myself. I’d then ask some of my Japanese friends (and an Italian friend that teaches at University of Osaka in Japan) to double check them for me. Then my publisher hired a Japanese expert to triple check everything, to make sure all the information was correct.
When my agent, Debbie Bibo, came back from Frankfurt Book Fair and told me that Chronicle Books was interested in publishing the project, I was over the moon. For the Spanish sequel (out this month), text-wise it was easier, as there were no kanji, hiragana and katakana to cross check.
You recently became a new mom (congratulations!), and have been documenting little comic snippets on Instagram. Can you talk more about these?
Thanks a lot! I had a very strong need to create these comics since Alberto was born, to talk about my experience, and share both the ups and downs. The first three months or motherhood can be very difficult, but these vignettes helped me hugely to laugh about the sleepless nights, tiredness, difficulty in breastfeeding, and more. Also, I found an online community of mums and illustrator new mums (yes, recently there are so many of us!) that support each other amazingly.
I hope I will publish something about it in the future, I would really love that. Having a baby means, in part, you have to rethink your idea of concentration. On the other side I find my creativity really enhanced, and I have a continue source of inspiration.
What exciting new projects can we expect from you in future?
In June The little girl who was afraid of everything will be published by Tate! I am really fond of this project. The story follows a character who is afraid of absolutely everything, but then she meets a creature who needs her help, so she puts her fears aside her to make her new friend feel better.
What do you set out to achieve with each project?
Personally, I like to make people smile and laugh. I love when my illustrations bring a bit of lightness and happiness to people in general. I like my drawings to be a bit quirky and fun, even when I have to deal with serious topics.
Many thanks to Aurora for taking part in our interview!
You can find more of her work on her Website, Instagram and Twitter!
Make sure to also catch our last Illustrator of the Month, member Mason London.