EVENTS Tyrolean Tales with Jon Klassen, Edinburgh International Book Festival


Illustration Features Editor Ell Rose recaps their time at Edinburgh International Book Festival where they went with Illustrator Coordinator Tita Berredo to see Jon Klassen talk about his newest books, 'The Rock from the Sky' and 'The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale'.

Seeing Jon Klassen was a dream come true for me – he's a huge inspiration as a designer, animator, writer and illustrator. His concept art for Coraline is a particular love of mine as is his first picture book I Want my Hat Back.

The crowd for this event was a mixture of children and adults, which is not surprising considering that his books do have a darker undertone making them very appealing to all ages.

He made everyone feel comfortable and at ease with his incredibly funny way of telling his stories and delighted us all with showing us his process. A particularly favourite moment of mine is seeing his photoshop document of one of his illustrations for The Skull. Much like me, he has a wonderful approach to NOT naming any of his layers and adding in new layers for absolutely everything. 

Thank you Jon, I feel much better about my own organised chaos!

I really enjoyed hearing about his process and how it's okay to "only want to draw a turtle" and teaching us all how to sketch out his iconic characters. His work is incredibly fun and his style is very magical. He uses traditional textures such as ink and graphite powder and has some unconventional ones like putting dirt in his scanner to make snow on his page – this is super cool and helps gives his work that unique edge.

At the end of his readings and process he then opened up the floor to a Q&A. Illustrator Coordinator Tita Berredo had an amazing question for him about his days in cinema as an illustrator herself, "Are picture books and cinema a similar media? What do you add or subtract from cinema?"

After his very insightful answers to everyone's questions we left feeling even more inspired and elated plus a little bit nervous about meeting him at the book signing in which we rushed to.

Overall Jon is an amazing storyteller, illustrator and person with such wonderful information about the picture book industry.

*Header image, photos and videos: in-house collaboration by Tita Berredo & Ell Rose. All Characters: Jon Klassen 


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.
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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. She has a Master's degree in Children's Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths UOL and a background in marketing and publicity.
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