By Veronica Spagna
Natia Gogiashvili is a freelance illustrator who specializes in drawing original illustrations for children’s books. A visual development artist and children’s book author she works with publishers, magazines, and clients all over the world from her homeland Georgia. Georgia is a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia characterized by its beautiful nature, which Natia says inspires her constantly.
Born in a family of artists, she has been drawing ever since she can remember. After she graduated in 2010 from the Academy of Arts, she turned her passion for drawing into a profession and started working as an illustrator for several authors around the world. “It felt totally natural like I was doing what I knew I was going do since my childhood,” said Natia. Her illustrations are always vibrant, colorful, full of life, and full of extremely cute faces. Another element that makes her illustrations so magical is being the mother of a little boy, who gives her a big advantage in the process of completing her work. Any time she finishes an illustration, she always seeks out his opinion and is able to receive “a child’s true and honest perspective” for all of her creations.
Finally, after almost a decade of drawing illustrations for others, Natia has released her first children’s book as both author and illustrator. The Adventures of Oliver and Lucy: The Little Duck. An adorable story about Oliver and his little sister Lucy’s adventure in the woods. I had the opportunity to interview Natia to find out more about her story, her new book, her illustrating process, and more. Here is Natia’s interview:
“To me each illustration is its own little world – an opportunity for me to bring more life into the world and to express myself creatively, striving at all times for uniqueness and vibrancy.” – Natia
How did you get started?
I’ve always had a passion for illustrating, ever since I was a child at school. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Multimedia Arts from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts of Visual Communication and Advertising. One of my teachers from the university had a major influence on my illustrating style. I think she found my past works had a cute style and she encouraged me to try children’s books. After graduation, I decided to formally specialize in Graphic Design and Illustration. Since then I’ve illustrated multiple children’s books, and every year my business is growing.
“I love adding magic to my illustrations.” – Natia
What countries do your clients come from? Tell us about one of your most memorable clients.
My clients come from all over the world. One of my most memorable clients is Dr. Lauren Baker who is from the United States. I did the illustrations for her children’s book The Boy and The Boomerang: An Adventure Told in Haiku. This is one of my all-time favorite projects, I love the story and I enjoyed drawing each illustration to match.
How closely do you work with the author?
It varies, how closely I work with an author. It totally depends on the story. In some stories, the author will write some instructions so I can understand the context that isn’t mentioned in the manuscript. In other cases, I get the story and nothing else from the author or publisher and I have complete freedom to tell the story as I visualize it. Each story can take from one month to three months to complete, depending on the difficulty of the project.
Which do you prefer: To get the context and instructions from the author or to have full creative freedom?
I prefer creative freedom. I feel when I have creative freedom I produce better results than when I have been given instructions. I love this process- when your ideas are born from exploratory play with shapes, colors, light, and texture.
What inspires you?
I take inspiration from my surroundings, whether it be from nature, kids, family, books, other illustrators. I definitely love to draw cute faces and as many plants as possible, so I think these two things also inspire me: cute faces and plants.
You recently released your new book The Adventures of Oliver and Lucy: The Little Duck. What inspired you to write this book?
This year I felt like I wanted to write and share stories that would inspire kids to care for and love nature. Charming stories that would be adventurous and interesting for kids, that they can easily understand. The Earth is what we all have in common, animals and people alike. All these thoughts inspired me to write this book.
What is something you would like your readers to take away from this story?
First I want readers to understand taking care of the Earth is important to our well-being. The Earth is our home and it’s time for us to appreciate, love, and respect it. Secondly, anyone can be good or bad depending on the situation. No one can be only very bad or very good. The best example is the bear, a character from the story. At first, the kids think that the bear is scary and bad, but his habits were caused only by the situation, and after the situation changed, the kids understand that the bear wasn’t being mean. He only wanted to help clean the forest like the rest of them.
You have always worked as a children’s book illustrator, this is the first book where you are also the author. What surprised you the most about working as an author?
Ohh, I really enjoyed the whole process. When the story depends on you, you feel like you have a superpower. I worked with all the elements of the illustrations so they enhance the final story.
“When the story depends on you, you feel like you have a superpower.” – Natia
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
My favorite thing about being an author is that everything, every detail is in my hand. I can be more creative as I don’t have any limits or restrictions.
What are some of your favorite?
Of course, my favorite color, it is green, but I love other colors too. My favorite illustrator is Beatrice Blue. I fell in love with her works. Her books are perfect. Some of my favorite hobbies are traveling and talking to children. And I also love riding my bike!
How many projects/books have you worked on so far?
I don’t think I’ve counted lately, but if you include picture books, chapter books, and book covers, I’ve worked on over 40.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced as an illustrator?
One of the challenges I experienced was finding an illustration style that I liked and wanted to work in. I tried different techniques before I found mine. One thing I try to keep in mind when illustrating is I try not to make the story exclusively “kid-friendly” and just do justice to the words with my illustrations.
How would you describe your illustration style?
When I look at my work, I know I truly am a children’s book illustrator. My illustrations are colorful narrations. There is always something happening. The characters are cute and friendly. I don’t use black and heavy lines in my works, leaving it more soft and textured. I love to add more plants with green and yellow colors to make the kids feel more natural.
“I love this process- when your ideas are born from explorative play with shapes, colors, light, and texture” – Natia
If you could illustrate any classic children’s book, which would it be and why?
I am glad to have the opportunity to work with very talented authors. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments. With that said, I’m a big fan of Peter Pan and some stories from Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I love adding magic to my illustrations.
If you could be stuck in one year, which year would it be and why? I don’t want to be stuck anywhere. I enjoy my progress and this feeling when I look at my old works and realize that now I am much better.
In the future, do you see yourself illustrating for anything else other than children’s books?
I usually try something totally different every week or so…I love trying new things so maybe I will. In the future, I look forward to trying many new styles including computer-generated art.
This article was originally posted to Tropicult Magazine and reposted here with permission.