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Kertu Sillaste

Biography

Kertu Sillaste (1973) graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in textile design in 1996, studied tapestry at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré (Paris) in 1997, and participated in Viive Noor’s illustration course at the Open Academy of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2009. She graduated from the Tallinn University’s in Master of Arts in Education in 2017. Sillaste has worked as a graphic designer at the Tallinn Central Library, and now teaches the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre Art Chamber. Kertu Sillaste is a member of the Estonian Graphic Designers Association and the Estonian Section of IBBY. She has illustrated books and textbooks; written five picture books; designed books, posters, fliers, and more; and has collaborated with children’s magazine Täheke. Her signature style comprises thick, vibrant India-ink brush strokes combined with acrylics or collage.

I studied to become a textile artist. After graduating from the Estonian Academy of Arts, I wove quite a number of big tapestries and painted metres and metres of silk. It was by a pleasant stroke of fate that I started drawing illustrations for books, and now I like doing it more than anything else. I enjoy drawing (painting, cutting, pasting), coming up with pictures, and positioning them in books. I wrote and illustrated my first solo book a few years ago. Since then, I’ve also enjoyed the simultaneous creation of text and illustration: I tell a part of the story in pictures, and put a part into words, because one doesn’t have to repeat the other.

I personally learn a lot from children when I teach them about (book) art. I’d like my books to be able to offer something for both little children and ones a bit older. They should include the joy of recognition and an opportunity to have your own say. I’d like a book to encourage children to do something on their own; to unleash their seed of creativity.

I try out different techniques when I illustrate: drawing in Indian ink and pencil, as well as collage. I do this so that every book has its own visage, and because it’s interesting for me. I start with sketching, scribbling, and doodling – it’s like thinking on paper. Later, I draw a clean picture. You can colour and adjust images a little on the computer, but the most important effort and the most enjoyable part lies in the hand-drawing stage.

  Profile photo: Piia Ruber

Kertu Sillaste. The Prettiest Skirt, Koolibri, 2019, coloured pencil, collageKertu Sillaste. The Prettiest Skirt, Koolibri, 2019, coloured pencil, collageKertu Sillaste. The Prettiest Skirt, Koolibri, 2019, coloured pencil, collageKertu Sillaste. Help!, Koolibri, 2021, lead pencil, digital treatmentKertu Sillaste. Help!, Koolibri, 2021, lead pencil, digital treatmentKertu Sillaste. Help!, Koolibri, 2021, lead pencil, digital treatmentKertu Sillaste. Everyone Makes Art Their Own Way, Päike ja Pilv, 2016, colleage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist, Päike ja Pilv, 2016, colleage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. I Am An Artist, Koolibri, 2018, colleage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist, Päike ja Pilv, 2016, colleage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. Where Is Love?, Päike ja Pilv, 2014, collage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. Where Is Love?, Päike ja Pilv, 2014, collage, mixed mediaKertu Sillaste. Where Is Love?, Päike ja Pilv, 2014, collage, mixed mediaElise Puls. Amazing Funny-Bombs, Tänapäev, 2014, acrylic, ink, colleageKertu Sillaste. No, It Isn’t So!, Päike ja Pilv, 2015, acrylic, ink, digital treatment

Precious Wolf

Siiri Laidla

Eesti Keele Sihtasutus
2008, 80 pp
ISBN: 9789985792278
fiction, storybook
2020
Annual International Contest ‘Image of the Book/Obraz knigi’, Moscow, laureate

2019

25 Best-Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Kertu Sillaste. The Prettiest Skirt)

2018

5 Best-Designed Estonian Children’s Books, special prize of the Estonian Children's Literature Centre (Kertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist)
Good Children’s Book (Kertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist)

2017

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate

2016

The White Ravens (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn't So!)

2015

5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize of the Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn't So!)
Raisin of the Year Award (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn't So!)
Good Children’s Book (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn't So!)
The Knee-High Book Competition, winner (Kertu Sillaste. Astrid and Ott)

2014

25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (illustrations and design – Liis Sillaste-Toots. Cookery Tips Black on White)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit, Special Jury Prize for Wonderful Illustrations (Kätlin Vainola. Where Is Love?)

2013

The Knee-High Book Competition, 1st place (Kätlin Vainola. Where Is Love?)

2011

The Knee-High Book Competition, 3rd place (Kertu Sillaste. It’s Pancake Time!)
Since 2009, Kertu Sillaste has taken part in exhibitions in Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

2020
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia

2019

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Group exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Leafing Through Estonian Children’s Books II”, Moscow, Kolomna, Russia

2018

Exhibition of Estonian illustrators „Masters of Estonian children’s books“/“Power of Pictures“ in Russia: Krasnoarmeysk, Moscow

2017

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
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, Estonia

2016

Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Fairy Tales Come to Visit”, New York Estonian House, USA
Travelling exhibition of Estonian illustrators, “A Walk on the Path of Fairy Tale Together with Charles Perrault”, Moscow, Krasnoarmeysk, Mytishchi, Russia
Exhibiton of Estonian illustrators “Neighbours Who Love Reading”, Pskov, Russia

2015

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia

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, Krasnoarmeysk, Mytishchi, Vyborg, St. Petesburg, Russia

2015–2018
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, Estonia; Gallery “Culture University”, Minsk, Belarus; Kraków, Białystok, Szczecin, Płock, Warszaw, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Poland

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

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

2013

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Travelling exhibition of Estonian illustration, “Etelästä tuulee – Lõunatuul puhub” (The South Wind Blows), Finland

2012–2013
Exhibition by Estonian illustrators, “Old Fairy Tales” (Brothers Grimm), Estonia, Russia
“A Handful of Book Illustrations by Estonian Artists”, Poland

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

2011

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia

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

2009, 2011
Solo exhibitions, Tallinn Central Library, Estonia

2009–2010
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators, “A House Full of Fairy Tales”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn