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.

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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! 

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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.

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!

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

The first step is collecting inspiration, then I doodle the key figures. The first drawings are just blobs, lines, or circles. More and more details are added and voila...there is a funny squirrel or dog sitting on my screen. I often make a new brush in psd and I use it to create the tree-leaves and the bushes. For me, the sketch stage is the most crucial. 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 receiving 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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What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Keep balance in everything in your life.

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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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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, we adopted her from an animal shelter. I think she can talk and we are very good friends.

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What do you do in your spare time?

I am a big fan of hiking. I enjoy being among trees and feeling the unique atmosphere of the woods. It is so quiet, only the birds are singing. It fills me up and gives me extra energy, it makes me happy.

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What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

I get out of bed at five. Undoubtedly, I'm an early bird. I typically go for a longer walk or just do some light exercise after enjoying a good cup of coffee. I then reply to my emails and complete the "Idontlikebutneedtodo-things". I frequently start at 10, cook lunch after a few hours, and continue working until 6 or 8 in the afternoon. I occasionally give myself a break and spend that day hiking, visiting a museum, or simply traveling to another town with my husband and exploring it.

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Outline your dream project.

Funny animal tale that allows me creative freedom.

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Which project are you most proud of?

I am over the moon about working with Dan Brown. Wild Symphony is the most interesting, memorable, and loveable book in my life. It was a great honor to work with him.

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