Bagram Ibatoulline Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Bagram Ibatoulline

Bagram Ibatoulline

An interview with Bagram Ibatoulline

An Interview with the illustrator of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

You change your style dramatically with each children's book you illustrate, like an actor who never plays the same role twice. You've paid homage, always brilliantly, to Dutch masters, American realists, primitive folk art, Chinese scrolls, and more. Which style do you most enjoy using? What kind of research do you do for each book?
I enjoy any style—it is never my intention to copy a particular look or aesthetic. Instead I do a lot of groundwork and extensive research on the time period in order to come up with my own approach or style for a book that I can relate to and use naturally. I have a big reference library, and when that's not enough, I turn to public libraries and private sources, which was the case for Edward.

Do you use models or photographs for the people in your painting? How about the rabbit—did you see Kate DiCamillo's big rabbit or invent your own?
Usually I create sketches and work off of them to create the final image. Sometimes I take inspiration from people and faces in old photographs or pictures of a specific time period in order to come up with an idea of what a certain character might look like. Although Kate sent me photos of her rabbit, I still had to sculpt my own model of Edward's head, since we see the rabbit from many angles throughout the book.

Did you consider yourself an artist as a child? What kind of art training did you have?
Since the time I can remember myself, I was sculpting. When I was ten, with advice from my parents, I went to the Children's Art School. I studied there for five years. It was a basic art education—introduction to the world of art materials, history of art, basics of various crafts. Then I decided to continue my art education in the Art College of Kazan for four years. It was a time of the most intensive classic art training. After that I attended the State Art Institute in Moscow for five years. It was an important step for me, allowing me to understand and find myself as an artist.

Each painting adds a rich and emotionally affecting dimension to Kate's text. How did you find the heart of each of the characters? What did you want your illustrations to add to the story?
It's not easy to explain how I found the heart of each character. Everything is in the text, as in "But first you must open your heart." I couldn't say it better.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Electric Woman
    The Electric Woman
    by Tessa Fontaine
    In 2010, author Tessa Fontaine's mother had a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke, leaving her with a...
  • Book Jacket: The Female Persuasion
    The Female Persuasion
    by Meg Wolitzer
    A college freshman struggling for identity. A 1960s feminist icon attempting to maintain her ...
  • Book Jacket: A Lucky Man
    A Lucky Man
    by Jamel Brinkley
    If his debut collection of short stories, A Lucky Man is any indicator, Jamel Brinkley is poised on ...
  • Book Jacket: Picture Us In The Light
    Picture Us In The Light
    by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    Kelly Loy Gilbert presents a beautiful narrative with myriad intertwined plotlines that explores the...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Harbor of Spies by Robin Lloyd

A captivating thriller-at-sea set in Spanish colonial Havana in the 1860s.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Comedown

The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin

A blistering dark comedy that explores delineating lines of race, class, religion, and time.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.