Conversation with Paloma Valdivia

Conversación con Paloma Valdivia

Pigeon Valdivia is one of the great Chilean illustrators who began her career illustrating in Amanuta with her book Kiwala knows the sea. For us she has been fundamental in the development and growth of Amanuta as she has illustrated many of our books. But above all she has been a great friend with whom we have traveled together the path of starting a publishing house, of making our books known abroad, of participating in many workshops, seminars and fairs, and of sharing experiences and experiences during the last 20 years.

Amanuta Team: Can you make an introduction of yours for this interview? How do you want us to introduce you?

Dove Valdivia: Illustrator, author and editor of children's books. My main passion are stories, illustrations, books and especially children. Not only the children of today, those who were or those who were our grandparents, that common territory that we all inhabit, childhood.

EA: We have known you for many years, since you were in college and we have followed in your footsteps and your career as an illustrator. What things do you think have changed the most in your work as an illustrator and what things have you maintained throughout all these years?

Reporter: Visually it has changed a lot since I started, yesterday for example when I finished a drawing I thought: it is the first time that I feel 100% satisfied with a drawing and it has been 20 years since I started illustrating professionally. I am always in search, so that generates constant change, I am also learning to choose well the projects in which I want to participate and in which I do not. I retain the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

EA: You have told us that you always wanted to be an illustrator, what are the stories that inspired you since you were a child? 

Reporter: When I was a child, I didn't have access to as much book as today's children have, so what came to my hands was a source of inspiration and joy. I remember the classics narrated orally by my great-aunt before nap that I never slept, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella. The fable books of Aesop, Félix María Samaniego, very sad stories by Oscar Wilde, I miss that melancholy in today's or late books that did not end so well, I liked them a lot. Naricita by Monteiro Lobato read by my mother.

Little Red Riding Hood

EA: When you illustrate a book, what is your creative process like? How do you approach and develop a project? What techniques do you use? Where do you look for your inspiration?

Reporter: I love taking on a new project. There are two types, the custom and the auto-order. The first is easier, you have a text, an editor, a delivery time. The second is more complex because everything depends on you and your organizational skills. In the first case, I read the text, I look for more information, references. Then comes the storyboard, tell in image what is suggested and not written, expand the story with the image. Then I make the originals, I usually illustrate by hand with ink and pencils and then I go to the computer to edit in Photoshop. In the case of personal projects, I can spend years turning it over in my head, they start from a topic that haunts me, since I have no deadline to deliver them, I work on them when I have time and I put them down on paper once they are in my head completely finished. I do one every three years or so, although I would like to do more.

EA: When you write and illustrate, how do you look for your project? Some are quite autobiographical. Do you write first and then illustrate? Which projects have made you happier?

Reporter: First there are thousands of ideas, but one of them takes on a certain importance over the others and if it is good it remains and becomes an obsession. Rather than writing first, I think about the idea for one or more years and once I have it very clear, I develop the text in my head and I memorize it, I don't write it on paper until it is completely ready. The illustrations have a similar process, they are drawn in my head along with the text and I lower them to the paper as sketches. These, unlike the text can change and vary, the text however almost always remains quite similar to the first writing. They are very short texts and I look for the precise word to say a lot with little, that is my search.

EA: When you receive a project to illustrate, what conditions must it meet for you to accept it?

Reporter: I have to like it and I have to feel capable and happy to do it. I have received precious texts that I could not draw, because I visualize them more realistic or about subjects that I do not feel close to. When I illustrate something that I like, it is like going for a walk, if not, it is like working in a sausage factory.
Another reason why I can accept a job is because it is well paid, you have to articulate an economy, with that payment you can dedicate yourself to working on personal projects.

 Each feather flock together Out for a walk

EA: Why did you decide to do your editorial Hare? How has that process been? 


Reporter: I love books, it does not seem to me that there is a more beautiful and fantastic object, they are the prolongation of a thought. I have always wanted to work making books for early childhood, it is an interesting niche to explore, think of innovative and playful formats, look for materialities. Those books are the first approach to the printed image of a child, his first portable museum, it is beautiful to work on it. The work of an illustrator is very lonely, having a partner like Monica, interesting, creative, hard-working and friend, makes work the most entertaining part of the day. And finally, I think about the diversification of interests, I know how to make books, I like to be behind and in front of the desk, I have more ideas than I can carry out, having a publishing house I can develop them without doing them directly.

EA: What things do you like about being an editor and what don't you? How do you divide your time between editor and illustrator and author?

Reporter: I like to think about the idea from scratch, look for the right writer, the illustrator who can shape that text, I like to choose format, materialities. I love dealing with other illustrators, paying them well, appreciating their work. I do not understand and it frustrates me all the bureaucratic and economic part, taxes, purchases, sales, how expensive books are in Chile and how badly distributed those profits are.


EA: In the book About Us published by Amanuta in Spanish and by several foreign publishers, how was the creation process?

Reporter: Like the others, it started with an idea and then an obsession. I realized that I had been accompanying my son to sleep for years and that we would repeat the same game every night. Being others, animals, I said I was the mother and he named the cub. When he fell asleep, I couldn't leave instantly because he would wake up, so I would spend a long time thinking about him. I imagined that I would grow up and that we would both change and that this separation would hurt but that despite this normal and necessary distance from a growing child, love and bond would always remain powerful. That's how I feel about my mom and that's how she must have felt about hers. Sometimes I make books to give me an answer or calm, this is the case of one of them. Understand growth and change in children, think about the empty nest and powerful bonds early on. I shaped a repeated activity and a thought.

EA: What projects are you currently working on?

Reporter: I am in several projects at the same time, it is almost always like that.
Finishing a book by Neruda that took me 5 years to illustrate, but it is beautiful. Another book by Gabriela Mistral for a Brazilian publishing house, projects of Editions Liebre, filming a workshop for Domestika and studying a diploma in Anthropology and Audiovisual Communication.

EA: Can you leave a message or advice to illustrators who are starting their career?

Reporter: Do not wait for them to come to look for you at the house. Invent, illustrate, sell online, self-manage, self-publish, ring bells, ask for advice and send emails. Draw honestly, it is better not so beautiful, but be your own, with personality, honest more than a colleague's copy. It is boring to see so much similar illustration.