The Illustrator Says: Elizabet Vukovic

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Website/social media: / instagram/twitter @elizabetvukovic

Tell me a little about yourself:

Hi, I’m Elizabet Vuković, 32 years old, born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

This is where I live next door to my sister, she’s my neighbor, we bought a house together. I also have a much older brother. Things about me I speak multiple languages Dutch, Croatian, English & German. A huge supporter for animal rights, CAT obsessed (my last 2 cats passed ± a year ago, both aged around 18).

Love riding my bicycle it’s my transportation and also my therapist. I’m a bit eccentric, I guess (collecting unusual things like prosthetic eyes, they are beauties), curious, enthusiastic, a listener, contradictory, introvert mostly, but when comfortable an entertainer. Have done some terrifying stuff for an introvert like talk to a huge crowd of people in English and German about scientific ophthalmological study.

1.How long have you been illustrating books?

I’ve been working as a full-time freelance illustrator ± 3 years, about 2 years into illustrating children books.

2.How did you become a book illustrator?

I always loved drawing, as I grew older I drew less but never fully stopped. I never considered illustration as a profession, although teachers told my mom that I had some sense for art.

So when I had to decide what to do after highschool I convinced myself Biomedical Laboratory Technology would be the way to go, only to decide very last minute to study Optometry.

After graduating I knew this was not what I was suppose to do, this was my backup plan and to satisfy/ensure my parents that I would be able to take care of myself.

While working 8 years as an optometrist I saved up money to take online classes at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco for a degree in illustration. During the day I worked full-time and in the evening and weekends I studied illustration, that took 4 years.

I kept working to pay off my mortgage in this time I also worked on my portfolio and participated in childrens book competitions. There I developed new ideas for my portfolio, send out my work to an agency and the same day they got back to me with an offer to represent me. I was SUPER happy when I heard the news.

This happened just before I went to visit Montreal for a month workshop and conference in, Burbank. After I came back from my trip I had a few children illustration jobs waiting for me, I was so lucky to get a good start.

3.When you were my age, did you read alot? What was your favorite book? 

Must admit I didn’t read a lot, spend way too much time playing outside (everybody in the neighborhood did) my mom had to call out to get inside for dinner 😉

But my absolute favorite books were from the author Roald Dahl I was obsessed with ”Mathilda”. And growing up and we had a famous dutch author ”Annie M.G. Schmidt” whose books were very popular and timeless, like ”Jip & Janneke”, ”Pluk van de Petteflet” , ”Floddertje” very funny books. But as I got older (age 10 and up) books from the author ”Anke de Vries” especially ”Blauwe Plekken” were very impactful.

  1. I love Jasmine Toguchi. How did you design her?

When I read ”Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen” I felt I could relate to Jasmine a lot, being the youngest sibling of three.

Also her character is funny, messy, independent and wants to be strong and that is what I was like as a kid.

I think I wanted to catch up with my siblings being stronger, faster then they are.

I would be so proud when someone would be surprised I could carry more then they thought I could, everything was competition I guess… 😉

(Even went as far as I convinced my dentist I didn’t need anesthesia for a root canal, I was 14 at the time, it hurt terrible but I didn’t show it. My dentist and dad where impressed, I was so stubborn and thought I can’t prove them right after I claimed I didn’t need it)

Back to Jasmine, I love how Debbi described this character I could see much of myself in this character and that helped design Jasmine.

There were some facts I got like her age, her ethnic background so I knew more about her physical appearance.

Jasmine is an active child so I thought she needs a ponytail (I actually always wear a ponytail) and comfortable clothing so that she can climb and play, she lives in California so I thought the weather isn’t too cold she could wear t-shirts and shorts and my favorite sneakers.

I must admit I think I made Jasmine look a bit like myself 🙂

  1. Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated?

Oh that’s a difficult question for me, every time I illustrate a book it’s like a mental game in my head, I like it but I also see all the things I could have done better. I keep learning and improving with every book, but I must say Jasmine Toguchi Drummer Girl is one of my absolute favorites so far.

  1. Do you illustrate by hand or by computer?

I do both, sometimes I start the sketch and finish the illustration totally in the computer.

Most of the time I sketch with a regular pencil and scan the drawing, then either color it in the computer or start painting/pastel/pencil on paper and later scan that too in the computer.

  1. Who are some of your favorite authors/illustrators?

There are so many I’ll probably forget a lot (these are just the illustrators)

Fiep Westendorp, Sempé, Alice & Martin Provensens, Brian Wildsmith, Miloslav Sasek, Isabelle Arsenault, Anton Pieck, Beatrice Allemagna, Javier Zabala, Leo Lionni, Quentin Blake, Annette Marnat, Tove Jansson, Jan Balet.

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