Mixing Colors with Maja Kastelic

An inside look into the creative process of Maja Kastelic, illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen– The Journey of His Life

Together with author Heinz Janisch, Maja Kastelic has created a book that breaks boundaries of genre, past and present, reality and fantasy with Hans Christian Andersen– The Journey of His Life. The book is simply alive with her extraordinary illustrations. Zurich-based editor, Andrea, visited Kastelic in her studio to learn more about her work and creative process

Maja’s studio contains a lavishly designed wall, full of notes, sketches and curios. Her studio also includes a remarkable picture book library, filled with both samples of Slovenian illustration art and internationally known illustrators who are pushing creative boundaries, like Jon Klassen, Catarina Sobral, Isabelle Arsenault, Peter Sís, Kitty Crowther and many more. Sometimes she cannot control the creative process, and finds herself carried away by it, submerged and unavailable for a while, even to her editor.

To me the story seemed very rich and also quite complex.

Maja Kastelic
Maja’s studio contains a lavishly designed wall, full of notes, sketches and curios.

Next to meticulous research, studies and experiments with color and technology, a certain amount of “playing” is necessary for the illustrations to emerge. Figures and things come into the picture that were not planned, but which literally awaken a child’s joy when looking at them, such as the tiny eyes in the flowers pictured in the Thumbelina scenes or the traveling Andersen who casts a shadow that looks like a pair of wings. It takes the viewer a second or third look to see these subtleties. Some others are more obvious with illustrations that are full of exuberant details, such as the scene from The Emperor’s New Clothes.

This is a story about the courage to follow ones dream and a beautiful tribute to playfulness and imagination.

Maja Kastelic

The character of Maja’s illustrations is strong and delicate at the same time. Strong in the sense of a balanced composition, and delicate because the figures seem light as a feather in the picture. A truly extraordinary combination, which make this book so special. We wholeheartedly agree with Maja, when she says “I honestly hope you will find Andersen’s life as inspiring and moving as I did.”

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