Every year a Canadian illustrator creates the official poster for Book Week: this year’s artist is Gabrielle Grimard, who created this year’s beautiful poster of books brought to life.
Gabrielle Grimard was born in 1975 in Montreal. Much to the dismay of her teachers in the early grades, Gabrielle was constantly drawing in class. For her, drawing was a way of keeping her concentration focused. Otherwise, she would spend all her time daydreaming. Gabrielle studied art, first in high school, then at Concordia, and finally at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (l’UQAM). Although Gabrielle took on many art projects after graduating, she did not start illustrating picture books until after the birth of her son. Her artwork appears in over 25 children’s books.
Gabrielle illustrated the award-winning picture books by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton When I Was Eight and Not My Girl. For her latest book with Annick Press, Lila and the Crow (Fall 2016), Gabrielle is both the author and illustrator. You can learn more about Gabriellle and her art at her official website.
Sandra O’Brien, Editor for Canadian Children’s Book News, interviewed Gabrielle about the creation of the poster.
Explain the process you went through to create the image you designed for the 2018 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week poster.
The possibilities were virtually endless! “Bring Books to Life”
is such an open and free phrase that the first difficulty was
to choose an idea from all those that popped into my head.
The symbol of the tree always came back to me. The tree is
the symbol of life and the very source of the book. A child in
a tree? A child leaning against a tree, reading pages blowing
in the wind? A forest springing from a book? Then a garden
and its flowers, too… with all its colours.
I liked the idea that the children in the drawing were
actors who participated in bringing the book to life. A garden took all its meaning from this perspective. It brought me a
visual diversity that resembles the diversity present in the
choice of literature.
I sent out several sketches and let the CCBC choose. I
loved them all! The garden was selected!
Tell us about your training as an artist and how long you’ve
been working as a children’s illustrator.
I have been an illustrator for 16 years now! I started when I
had my son. I was a painter, a muralist, and these jobs often
took me away from home, or if I was at home the income
was uncertain. I got some good advice from illustrator
friends like Simon Dupuis and Stéphane Poulin. I got the
urge to try it and it worked! And in addition, it was the youth
section that interested me the most; I now had a miniature
What or who inspires the illustrations you create?
Everything around me inspires me — my children, my
friends, my life. The infinitely big, but especially the infinitely
small! Colours, fabrics, landscapes, travels, the wind…
I discovered that I prefer to illustrate the wind! It is my
favourite muse! It is present in almost all my illustrations!
It’s my poetry.
Tell us about some of the projects you are currently working on.
I have just finished the fourth instalment of Le petit gnouf,
written by Dominique Demers, for Dominique et compagnie.
And I’m currently illustrating The Magic Boat by Kit Pearson
and Katherine Farris for Orca Book Publishers. This summer,
I’ll be working on a book for Pajama Press and I hope I’ll
have time to write another as I have two or three stories that
are knocking on my door.
You participated in the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s
Book Week Tour. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
When I participated in the TD Canadian Children’s
Book Week tour, I had the chance to go to Nunavut. What
a shock! No more trees! Just all that space around me and
I was breathing it all in! I learned about Inuit communities.
Their world is so different from ours. I had the feeling I was
in another country! But kids are beautiful and so free. I truly
enjoyed that experience and I only wish I could go back.
The Other Side of Eden by Hugh Brody became my friend
on this trip. Reading about something that is happening in
one of the most remote villages in Canada, like Pond Inlet,
and being there while you are reading it — that was a
treasure! I wish everybody could have that chance.