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Susan Batori

Susan Batori

Represented by Good Illustration
Susan Batori Interview

Susan Batori

Children's Illustrator

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

I live in Budapest and grew up in a small, friendly town not far from Budapest. I love Budapest. It's vibrant, dynamic and there are many museums, artistic places and exciting things to do. I like to walk along the banks of the Danube river and now as I'm getting older I have a desire for the calmness. Maybe I will move to a little house where I can see more trees and nature.  

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Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

I love the works of many illustrators and painters. I was impressed by the paintings of Gustav Klimt and Alfons Mucha. I love their line work and the richness of the colors. When I started my illustrator career I felt in love with the works of Carter Goodrich. When I see his animal characters I have to sit down and draw something funny! 

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

I could mention thousands but my favorite was Pompom. It’s a Hungarian character. Who is Pompom? He may be a wig, a painter's brush or an inside-out fur mitten, or a yarn pom pom on a slippers' nose. He can change his shape and he tells an amazing story every night. Most of his stories are about a fat bird (Arthur Dumpling) whose feathers are blue and he loves every kind of chocolate. It was the funniest story in my childhood. The illustrator who created him is Ferenc Sajdik. I think the google eyes I draw were inspired by him.

An episode of Pompom:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq60f0c5wEs

Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

I just begun to discover the series of Cat In a Hat. These stories are very funny and I just ordered two books by Dr. Seuss a few days ago. These books are amazing. The author used the words very sparingly with great intelligence. The illustrations are extremely simple, there is not much background or environment. Just the essence. I’m not a background-fan either.

Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

Today I work only digitally in Photoshop. I remember when computers were first introduced I made a resolution that I never ever will work on one!  Well, never say never!

Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.

One of the last books I illustrated was Shampooch who is a fancy dog. The book is about her exciting adventures in the park. Here the publisher requested me to draw an Afghan hound. The first step was collecting inspiration. I watched videos about these dogs, how they move, how they eat, sit, walk. After that I sketched the main characters. The first drawings were not nice at all. Just circles, lines, or blobs. More and more details are added and voila...there is a funny dog on my screen. I often make a new brush in psd as I did here too. The trees and bushes were created with it. The sketch-phase is the most important to me. It determines the characters and the whole atmosphere of the book. I always try to make toned sketches or use a little color so the publisher can feel the mood of the picture. After approval I start coloring which is the quickest, easiest part for me. I like the bold and funny colors. And tadaaah... the book is ready. In a nutshell this is my working process. :)

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Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?

Happiness, quirkiness, happiness, quirkiness.

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What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Keep balance in everything in your life.

What makes a good children’s book?

A tip-top, simple and comprehensible story with a pinch of humor and lovable characters.

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Which project are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my first book with Maverick Publishing. Strictly No Crocs was written by Heather Pindar,  who inspired me as she writes very funny stories with a twist at the end!  It was a pleasure to illustrate.

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I watch a Friends (an American TV show) episodes every day. It makes me cheery.

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Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

Oh, yes I have. Her name is Kamilla and she is a grey cat. I think she can talk and we are very good friends.

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