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Washington Post

In National Book Festival poster, Suzy Lee shows ‘everything that you can do with books’


By Michael Cavna, Published: September 13, Washington Post

 

When Suzy Lee wanted a picture book as a child, often her only option was to try to picture the book. These simply weren’t items her family came across every day in the Seoul of the ’70s, years before South Korean publishing made rapid advances. So when a real, physical picture book did enter her household, it took hold. And if it was illustrated by the great Edward Gorey, it especially held her imagination.

“I remember that there was ‘The Shrinking of Treehorn,’ by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Edward Gorey, on my mother’s bookshelf,” Lee said by e-mail from South Korea. “I don’t think I understood the book properly at that time, but I was instantly drawn to some kind of strangeness that it carried. Probably, this book made me think that every book should have some quality of mysteriousness.”


Growing up, Lee had “no idea of picture-book author” as an occupation, but she is now one of the more gifted under-40 children’s book illustrators. She’s a thoughtful artist who imbues her work with clever qualities that beguile. Her most recent visual wonder is “Open This Little Book,” by Jesse Klausmeier (Chronicle). It’s a playful creation that led to Lee’s next big assignment: creating the official poster for this year’s National Book Festival.

Jennifer Gavin, the Library of Congress’s project manager for the festival, spotted Lee’s bright, deft images at a national librarians’ event in Seattle.

“Her work makes you smile,” Gavin said. “There’s something you see that adults as well as children might enjoy. . . . You want to give people something that can bridge those age gaps, and that’s uplifting and colorful when you look at it.”

Lee pursued that same spirit for her new assignment with the Library of Congress. “I wanted to create a poster that can make you smile — the warm feeling that we all know when we have a wonderful book on our lap,” said Lee, who studied painting at Seoul National University and book arts at Camberwell College of Arts in London. “All the words associated with the poster are fun: festival, joy of reading, children, tree of books, a forest library, lots of colors, lot of animals. . . . Then those words and images are all connected together and realized.”

That woodsy land of literature, in fact, is derived directly from “Open This Little Book.” “When I made the image of the forest library in the last page of ‘OTLB,’ I had an urge to make it really big and give it away to the libraries and book lovers,” said Lee, who has also illustrated the acclaimed “Wave” and “Shadow.” “When the festival organizer asked me to do the poster, I thought my wish had come true.”

The assignment came with a primary request: Use lots of color. From there, Lee went deeper.

“I studied the previous posters in the Library of Congress,” said Lee, who did her line drawing in pencil before coloring in acrylic and tweaking the artwork digitally. “All the posters were unique and beautiful, but I thought I could try the lighter and more fun elements.” Besides the creatures adopted directly from “Open This Little Book” — including the ladybug, frog, rabbit and bear — “there are lots of other animals reading various patterned books, and they’re doing everything that you can do with books: reading books, chewing books, swallowing books and doing acrobatics with books. Everybody in the poster certainly enjoys the moment.”

Lee might have grown up behind national borders with relatively few picture books, yet part of her joy as an artist is to do what Heide and Gorey did: Somehow communicate across those boundaries.

“It is such a pleasure to see we’re connected by the picture books, and with no language or cultural barrier,” Lee said. “Moreover, my greatest readers are children — there are no borders in their minds!”

 

Suzy Lee will speak in the Children’s pavilion on Sept. 22 at 2 p.m.



by 힌토끼 | 2013/09/16 10:43 | 그림책 | 트랙백 | 덧글(3)
트랙백 주소 : http://tokigool.egloos.com/tb/5767318
☞ 내 이글루에 이 글과 관련된 글 쓰기 (트랙백 보내기) [도움말]
Commented by 최현경 at 2013/09/17 10:47
우아~ 단순히 포스터 한 장 그리는 게 아니라 이렇게 의미 있는 작업이었군요. 신문에 인터뷰 기사가 실릴 만큼... 무려 오바마 대통령이 게스트로 참여한다고요? ㅋㅋ 그림책 작가가 존중받는 이런 분위기 정말 질투나는걸요! 검색하다 보니까 어떤 워싱턴DC 거주자가 이 행사 소개하면서 선생님을 '재미교포 작가 수지 리'로 표현해서 넘 웃겼어요. 살짝 수정 요청해 두었습니다 ^^*
Commented by Luis at 2013/09/18 12:29
우리 작가님 정말 대단합니다!!!!
Commented by 보리 at 2013/10/11 23:43
우리나라는 언제나 그림책 작가를 존중하는 날이 올란지..정말 분위기 많이 차이 납니다.

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