A True Romance

by Yuval Saar | 05.02.15

“I think that illustrators have a strong relationship – if not a romance – with text. A stronger relationship with it only exists among the writers themselves. So after I got excited over the thought of illustrating for the book fair, I got to work…”. In that simple way Eitan Eloa describes the beginning of his work process on the illustrations he created for the International Book Fair that will take place next week in Jerusalem.

Eloa – whose wonderful final project for the Visual Communication Department at Bezalel was one of the most outstanding last year (in the field of illustration, and in general), and which has already been presented at Tokyo design week – was asked by Studio Grotesca (who designed the concept for the festival) to create illustrations for five literary genres: Fiction, Poetry, Children & Teens, Nonfiction and Cooking & Culinary.


The illustrations needed to correspond with the fair’s logo, making up one big illustration, while on the other hand every illustration needed to work on it’s own. The values he was asked to express in the illustrations were values of a vibrant and exuberant occurrence, diversity and abundance, “literariness” (the material world of a book, paper, pages, browsing and such), the experience of reading, imagination and more. The result (unsurprisingly) is one of the most charming images to been seen here recently.

The first thing Eloa did was to read and study the differences between the genres, understanding what each genre consists of, and thinking of a way to encapsulate those understandings into visual concepts that incorporate humor and imagination. Only after that did he try to create a colorful element to correspond with the logo, out of which he created the smaller illustrations (the five genres).

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“I matched a scene to every genre that captures its essence, in addition to the experience of the genre as I see it. For example, in the illustration for “Nonfiction” it was important for me to express an abundance of books alongside the feeling that books are the entire world of a researcher. In “Cooking & Culinary” I wanted the experience of cooking to come across as fun, experimental and messy. The next step was to create visual and content connections in the meeting points of the different genres. Those with sharp eyes can notice the dragon fire that is about to heat up the stew.”

While working on the small details Eloa scattered small tributes to books that he loves. For example, an illustration of The Little Prince and a reference to the Israeli cover of The Catcher in the Rye. “I also incorporated childhood memories: the teddy bear holding on to the dragon is the teddy bear I had as a child and was past down to my nephews. The cook’s flowery pot is a vague memory of my mother’s enamel pot that was part of her Passover set. The character with the white beard is a tribute to my high school librarian, who introduced me to some of the books that most influenced me at the time.”

How did working on your final project advance you towards this project in terms of style and characterization?

“My Final project mainly shaped my technical side and my ability to play with lines and colors. It just so happened that in the in the past year and a half I have illustrated many personified animals, which is entirely my comfort zone. So in that aspect, the intense work with human characters is refreshing. There’s something unspoiled about it, and it was about time. That being said, obviously, I couldn’t hold myself back and I did end up finding a way to incorporate animals into the story… “.

Jerusalem International Book Fair is taking place 8-12/2. For more details visit the site.


Another version of this post was originally published in Hebrew on http://byfar.co.il and translated by Yuval Regev.

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