Mathematics and the World

Interview with illustrator Rachel Katstaller

Ada and the Number-Crunching Machine is a picture book about Ada Byron Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer. Her work has influenced the advancement of digital technologies and made it possible for books such as this one to come out today. The book itself is an international project–Rachel Katstaller lives in Austria, author Zoë Tucker lives in England, parent company NordSüd is based in Switzerland, and NorthSouth is based in the US. Continue below to read the interview with illustrator Rachel Katstaller.

This project is truly international! You are in Austria and NordSüd is in Switzerland, the author Zoë Tucker is in London, and NorthSouth is in the USA. What was your introduction to the manuscript? Was it through the publisher or did you already know Zoë ?

I met Zoë through an online course she was teaching back in 2016 and fell in love with her manuscript. I did several illustrations from her story and went to Bologna a couple of months later. It was there that NordSüd saw my work and also fell in love with the idea of publishing Ada. A truly magical experience!

What medium or techniques did you use to create the illustrations?

I did all the illustrations by hand using a mix of gouache and watercolors, with colored pencils and graphite. I love how mixing mediums brings about such beautiful textures in illustrations.

What drew you to this story?

Definitely the fact that the main figure was a girl who grew up to become a very important person for mathematics and the world.

Inspiring, feminist, and informative in equal parts.

Kirkus Reviews, on Ada and the Number-Crunching Machine

Did you always want to be an illustrator/artist?

While growing up I was always very inclined towards an artistic career, because I’ve enjoyed being creative ever since I can remember. So it was either writing or art, or becoming a zookeeper. Now I can draw animals for a living so I’m pretty much living my childhood dream!

Where do you create your artwork?

I work from a small shared studio in the Austrian Alps. I have a beautiful view from the snowcapped mountains right from my desk, which always takes my breath away. Even though it’s a small studio, nothing beats having your own space to keep all your supplies and to dedicate yourself fully to your work. I couldn’t have ever asked for anything better!

Photo credit for all photos: Ulli Hoschek

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