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Catherine Zarip

Biography

Catherine Zarip (1966) is an illustrator and graphic designer. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in ceramics 1995, after which she worked at the publisher Avita as a book designer and art director. She is currently a freelance artist. Zarip has illustrated dozens of textbooks, more than 30 children’s books, and has designed about 200 works in total. She is a member of the Estonian Graphic Designers Association and the Estonian Section of IBBY. Zarip has been awarded twice at the Tallinn Illustrations Triennial and ten times in the 5 Best-Designed Estonian Children’s Books competition. Her works are held in the collections of the Estonian National Library and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre. Her art is fresh and elegant – simultaneously animated and restrained, detail-rich and simplified.

As a child I had two dreams – to become a cosmonaut or a book illustrator. Somewhere along the way my dreams fell by the wayside because I went to study ceramics at the art academy. But life took charge and in my final year I was asked to illustrate a textbook. I worked for that publisher for 19 years as a book designer. During that time I have also illustrated books.
Creating the world of pictures is a wonderful job. Each time I need to think up something new and improve my knowledge of the world and the way things work. Everyone’s work should be like this – doing something that you like and being able to bring joy to other people.

Profile photo: Piia Ruber

Täheke, 12/2006, cover, acrylicEstonian language textbook for 3rd grade II. L. Carroll Alice In Wonderland, 2008, acrylicDarja Gerassimova. Winter Fairytale/Magic Winter, Labirint, 2011, acrylicAino Pervik. The Wandering Cat, Tammerraamat, 2012, acrylicIko Maran. But So Many Cats, TEA, 2012, acrylicHilli Rand. Snowy White and Pitch Black, Päike ja Pilv, 2014, acrylic, mixed mediaAino Pervik. Bluephant Goes to Kindergarten, Tammerraamat, 2014, acrylic, mixed mediaMargery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit, Koolibri, 2015, acrylic, mixed mediaLeelo Tungal. Joseph the Bunny Looks for a Friend, Tammerraamat, 2015, acrylic, mixed mediaHow the Animals Got their Tails, Tammerraamat, 2017, acrylic, mixed mediaHow the Animals Got their Tails, Tammerraamat, 2017, acrylic, mixed mediaIlmar Tomusk. Wolf’s Friends, Tammerraamat, 2018, acrylic, mixed mediaIlmar Tomusk. Wolf’s Friends, Tammerraamat, 2018, acrylic, mixed mediaEllen Niit. The Little Bunny Who Didn’t Want to Go to Sleep, Tammerraamat, 2018, acrylic, mixed mediaLiis Sein. Saskia Looks for Colours, Tammerraamat, 2019, acrylic, mixed media

The Gingerbread Story

Piret Veigel

Postimees Kirjastus
2019, 32 pp
ISBN: 9789949669585
fiction, picturebook

Not a Peep

Olivia Saar

Pegasus
2017, 30 pp
ISBN: 9789949620494
fiction, storybook

The Velveteen Rabbit

Margery Williams

Translator: Piret Carson
Koolibri
2015, 31 pp
ISBN: 9789985036396
fiction, storybook, picturebook

But A Lot Of Cats

Iko Maran

TEA Kirjastus
2012, 32 pp
ISBN: 9789949241187
fiction, storybook

Wiff-Waff Warbler

Jaan Rannap

TEA Kirjastus
2008, 72 pp
ISBN: 9789985717271
fiction, storybook

Miisu's Birthday

Uno Leies

TEA Kirjastus
2007, 56 pp
ISBN: 9789985716298
fiction, poetry
2020
Nukits competition, 3rd place (Ilmar Tomusk. Little Whiskers)

2019
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, 2 Certificates of Merit (Liis Sein. Saskia Looks for Colours; Ilmar Tomusk. Little Whiskers)
Good Children’s Book (Liis Sein. Saskia Looks for Colours)
Edgar Valter illustration prize nominee

2018

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Ilmar Tomusk. Wolf's Friends)
Good Children’s Book (Ilmar Tomusk. Wolf's Friends)
Annual International Contest ‘Image of the Book’, Moscow, diploma (How the Animals Got their Tails)

2017
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonian Children’s Literature Centre diploma
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (How the Animals Got their Tails, illustrations and design)

2015

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Joseph the Bunny Looks for a Friend)

2014, 2015

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate

2014
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Kadri Hinrikus. The Frogs’ Revolt)
Good Children’s Book (Aino Pervik. Bluephant Goes to Kindergarten)

2013

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, 2 Certificates of Merit (Birthday Stories; Ellen Niit. Play Water)

2012

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Aino Pervik. The Wandering Cat)
25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Aino Pervik. The Wandering Cat)
“Kuldmuna” (Golden Egg) Advertising Awards, Silver Egg and Bronze Egg, Tallinn

2010
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Sulev Oll. Rascally Proverbs)

2009

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (The Golden Book of Estonian Fairy Tales)

2008

Raisin of the Year Award (Once Upon a Time…)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Jaan Rannap. Flitter-flutter Leaf Warbler), Special prize of Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union (illustrations and design – Once Upon a Time…)

2007

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special Prize ‘Golden Book’ of the National Library of Estonia (Uno Leies. Pussy Cat’s Birthday)

2006

25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (illustrations and design – Big Book of Fables)
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Diploma

2003
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (design – Leelo Tungal. Anna and Adam’s Tales)
Her work has been in many group shows in Estonia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the USA and Yugoslavia.

2020
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia

2019
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “From the Mountains to the Sea”, Kraków, Rabka-Zdrój, Elbląg, Poland

2018

Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Running with Wolves”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators „Masters of Estonian children’s books“/“Power of Pictures“ in Russia: Krasnoarmeysk, Moscow

2017

Catherine Zarip's and Anne Linnamägi's jubilee exhibiton "The Century", Tapa City Library
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “A Window into the Fairy Tale World”, Haapsalu Cultural Centre, Haapsalu Children's Library

2016

Catherine Zarip's and Anne Linnamägi's jubilee exhibiton "The Century", Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Fairy Tales Come to Visit”, New York Estonian House, USA
Exhibiton of Estonian illustrators “Neighbours Who Love to Read”, Pskov City Library, Russia

2015–2020
International illustration exhibition, “It’s Always Tea-Time”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn; Riga, Latvia; Uusikaupunki, Finland; Gdansk, Wrocław, Toruń, Elbląg, Poland; Berlin, Germany; Szczecin, Płock, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; Oxford, the United Kingdom; Moscow, Vyborg, St. Petesburg, Russia

2015–2019
Exhibition of Estonian Illustrators, “Once Upon a Time...” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales), Aosta, Anagni, Lagonegro, Bernalda-Metaponto, Corato, Matera, Roma, Lacco Ameno, Irsina, Siracusa, Sassari, Roma, Bologna, Italy; Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn; Minsk, Belarus; Kraków, Łomża, Białystok, Szczecin, Płock, Warszaw, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Opole, Poland

2014

European Professional Doll Art Festival, Riga, Latvia

2014–2017
Travelling exhibition “Tallinn Illustration Triennial 2013. Estonian Illustrators”, Estonia, Poland

2013

Il Posto delle Favole, an international group exhibition, province of Rieti, Italy
Solo exhibition, Estonian State Puppet Theatre, Tallinn
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Travelling exhibition of Estonian illustration, “Etelästä tuulee – Lõunatuul puhub” (The South Wind Blows), Finland

2013–2015
Exhibition by Estonian and Hungarian Illustrators, “Crisscross Stories”, Estonia, Hungary, the United Kingdom

2013–2014
Group exhibition, “The Visions of Mother Goose. Tribute to Charles Perrault”, Tallinn, Estonia

2012–2013
Exhibition by Estonian illustrators, “Old Fairy Tales” (Brothers Grimm), Estonia, Russia

2012

Solo exhibition, Ilon’s Wonderland, Haapsalu, Estonia

2011–2018
Exhibition of artists from the Baltic Sea countries, “Sea Fairy Tales”, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia

2010–2011
Travelling Exhibition of Estonian Book Illustration, Russia, Finland

2009–2010
2nd “Blue Book Group”, an international illustration exhibition, Iran, Japan, Spain, Argentina

2009

Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia

2008
Illustration exhibition “Once Upon a Time…”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn, Estonia

2007

Exhibition of Estonia’s leading book illustrators, “Suur valmiraamat” (Big Book of Fables), Haus Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia

2006

Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia

2005

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia

2003
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
One of Estonia’s most renowned book illustrators had two dreams as a child: to become a cosmonaut or an illustrator. Two completely different desires: one that physically takes you to such distances, and another that can so much as be seen and touched! Catherine Zarip enrolled in the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) to study something very tactile – ceramics. She graduated in the field in 1995, but was given the chance to illustrate a workbook already during her last semester at the university, and indeed switched from ceramics to book design. In reality, there was nothing surprising about this. According to Zarip, she learned to read at a very young age and discovered the world of illustration at the same time, also. Libraries and bookshops soon became her favourite places. Even her first allowance was spent precisely on books, so that she could design her very own little library! Immediately after graduating from EKA, Zarip took a job as a book designer with the publisher Avita, where she worked until 2014 as the head artist for the majority of the time. Outside of her publishing work, Catherine Zarip arrived at illustrating children’s books more than a decade ago. In addition, she has frequently done work for the children’s magazine Täheke and been featured at exhibitions. It certainly is not the same as conquering the cosmos, but it allows her to roam through her fantasies ideally.

Catherine Zarip’s works are most correctly viewed through the prism of paradox. A book designer’s job is not easy. Given today’s publishing conditions, a head artist has to act quickly – contract deadlines are constantly breathing down his or her neck, there are perpetually cover designs to be done, illustrators have to be found, and – when necessary – the artist has to illustrate the books themselves, too. And so, Catherine Zarip has done the designs and cover art for several textbooks published by Avita, and has contributed a voluminous number of illustrations. However, there also has to remain time for one’s own original works alongside quick reaction-time. Zarip’s illustrations are very well-considered and the outcome of deep concentration. The artist finds that illustration must speak to the reader and not only depict the text in a visual manner, but enrich it as well. Illustration should help the reader peek behind the text for a moment, too.

Catherine Zarip’s illustrations always leave a fresh and elegant impression. Yet, what hides behind these abstract descriptive categories? In terms of composition, she frequently nudges the centre of gravity towards the fringes, which is in no way derived from the need to position text in a certain place. This state of “offset” results in a film-like feeling at times – you never know what else might surface somewhere! Zarip often implements completely unexpected perspectives when observing an object. Her pictures contain a great deal of air; of unoccupied surface. In spite of the absence of figurative filler, the space is not empty or simply left blank to achieve greater contrast. Instead, it is lightly filled with a tone or pattern, and is made into an inseparable part of the illustration.

In regards to illustration techniques, the artist often uses acrylic paints. This gives her the opportunity to make backgrounds glow as they do with watercolours, and allows her to apply colours more freely, resulting in fascinating factures and layering. Zarip’s colour solutions are manifold, ranging from pastels (although very colourful shades) through works done almost in the grisaille technique, where only a few lone brighter splotches of colour have settled. When using pastel tones, there is often the danger of the picture becoming too sweet; however, in Zarip’s works, some kind of balance is always found for every “sweeter” colour combination. Even when using milder tones, her works never turn foggy or diffused. The picture’s surfaces can indeed be processed to a very detailed point in places, but Zarip is able to avoid general dullness. Her figures possess clear boundaries for the most part, but are not drawn emphatically. Zarip’s signature can be recognised precisely by way of her animal characters, which are always very endearing and expressive. There is nothing insistently childish about them, nor are they excessively stylised or cute. Rather, one can sense human characteristics behind their expressions – outright personalities. At the same time, they are all characterised by a certain sort of contemplativeness.

Returning to the aforementioned paradox, one may say that this is exactly where the elegancy of Catherine Zarip’s works lies – her illustrations are simultaneously living and restrained; both detailed and generalising.

Catherine Zarip has written the following about her work: “Creating a drawn world is incredible work. You must come up with something new every time, and enhance your knowledge about the world and things. That probably is the kind of job every person should have – doing what you like and being able to create joy for others as well.”

It seems that Catherine Zarip’s childhood dream was fulfilled regardless. You do not need to be a cosmonaut to view the world from a certain distance and always in a new way – being a book illustrator suffices.

Text by Eva Laantee Reintamm

21.03.2014