Tarsila Krüse Loves Making People Smile | Interview with Dublin based Illustrator

Tarsila Krüse is a children’s book illustrator based in Dublin. She creates art that is whimsical, heartwarming and fun, because she says, she loves making people smile.  Her book “Ná Gabh ar Scoil!” has just been shortlisted for the Children’s Books Ireland 2016 Book of the Year Awards.

Bike Dog Tarsila Kruse - headstuff.org
Bike Dog, Illustrated by Tarsila Krüse

How did you get started in illustration and children’s books?

I got a major in English and Portuguese in University and I really didn’t think that illustration was viable career option for me until I arrived in Ireland. Here I had my very first opportunity to work creating characters, elements and packaging for Irish souvenirs. From then on I started working freelance and approaching publishers because I’ve had this deep want to work creating picture books (I love them so much I actually collect them!)

How does the work differ between websites, articles, editorials, greeting cards – what are some challenges in the different areas?

Every type of work is different even though they’re all illustrations – websites, articles and editorials have an incredibly fast turnaround so you have to be sharp with your ideas and execution, and quality is definitely a must. To me, greeting cards are the most fun, because they usually cover current trends and speak directly to the people who buy them as they help convey a message.

Some of the challenges are usually related to colour profiles and resolution. For example, creating solely for online media can leave you hanging if you need to print the artwork because online (like in websites, blogs, social media) the image files need to be small so they are easy to load online, but with print files there’s a need for very high resolution, so it’s important to keep in mind which colour profiles and resolutions to use before starting.

Also, working WITH a client is very important. Listen to what the client wants, share ideas, and work collaboratively. Every client in a different area has different expectations and it’s important to work together.

“What I love most is making people happy and knowing that my work has touched them in some way, especially if I make people smile.”

A fine day in dublin bay - Tarsila Kruse - headstuff.org
A Fine Day in Dublin Bay! Illustrated by Tarsila Krüse

What’s your preferred medium to work in?

My work is usually created from sketches done with a mechanic pencil on an A4 sketchbook and all my ideas, good and bad, come from here. Then I work digitally, which I really LOVE, but I also have moments that I need to retreat from the screen and treat myself to some acrylic paintings.

“I want children to dream of possibilities and reflect upon a world that is diverse, curious and interesting!”

How do you get into the mindset of a child?

I often go back to my own childhood, but also observing my little son and other children is paramount to understand how THEY see and experience the world.

mr fox Tarsila Kruse - headstuff.org
Mr. Fox, Illustrated by Tarsila Krüse

What were your favourite books growing up?

I had a few: ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein; ‘Where Did I Come From?’ by Peter Mayle and Arthur Robins; ‘A Pedra Arde’ by Eduardo Galeano and Luis de Horna; ‘Marcelo, Marmelo, Martelo’ by Ruth Rocha and I was also fascinated by different myths and legends.

Can you tell me about The Blind Elephant Illustration Collective?

The Blind Elephant Collective was born from the Art Boot Camp course, led by Adrienne Geoghegan. Some of us, who attended the course, formed the Collective in 2010 to keep creating art and to motivate each other. What we’ve accomplished with the collective has gone beyond what we’ve imagined, we’ve been interviewed by TG4, we’ve had collective exhibitions in Farmleigh, The Little Green Gallery, The Icon Factory, The Bleeding Horse, The Bernard Shaw and even at Culturlánn in Belfast. Oh and we have an upcoming exhibition at the Lighthouse Cinema this month!

dog adventures Tarsila Kruse - headstuff.org
Dog Adventures, Illustrated by Tarsila Krüse

Can you tell me about your book, Ná Gabh ar Scoil?

Working on Ná Gabh ar Scoil has been a wonderful experience for me, Myra Zepf wrote the story and Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, the lovely editor at Futa Fata, had approached me to illustrate the book. Her words deeply resonated with me as I became a mother right when I started working on the book and it’s just been a pleasure throughout.

I never expected to work on an Irish book and it’s been great. The story is about a little bear that is very excited to go to school for the first time and his mom…well…not so much. So they go through the ups and downs of that experience with lots of funny twists and, of course, a lot of love.

na gabh ar scoil Tarsila Kruse - headstuff.org
Ná Gabh ar Scoil! by Máire Zepf, Illustrated by Tarsila Krüse