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Regina Lukk-Toompere

Biography

Regina Lukk-Toompere (1953) graduated in 1981 from the Estonian State Art Institute's Graphic Art Department in illustration and book design. She is a member of the Estonian Artists Association, the Estonian Graphic Designers Association and the Estonian Section of IBBY. She has illustrated and designed more than 90 books and textbooks, as well as posters, record covers, postcards, magazines and packaging. Lukk-Toompere was on the 2014 IBBY Honour List and has received several awards in annual Estonian book design and illustration competitions. She is masterful at a wide range of traditional drawing, graphic, and painting techniques. Collage adds an element of realism to her works, but also gives them a certain dream-like quality. Her works are held in the collections of the Estonian Museum of Art, the Estonian National Library and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, as well private collections in Estonia, Lithuania, France, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine and Russia.

The love for books I developed at already a very young age led me with an irresistible force to become an illustrator. My first published illustrations were for Ernst Enno’s children’s book Üks rohutirts läks kõndima (A Grasshopper Took a Walk, 1981): it was my graduation work, which also brought me cum laude honors and amplified attention on the Estonian children’s literature scene. From that point up to today, I have illustrated 2–3 books per year. All my illustrations – from my very first book to my latest – have been done by hand. All the originals are on paper, mostly using watercolor and pencil but sometimes also with pastels or gouache, and lately also using collage.

Profile photo: Piia Ruber

Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf, 2004, watercolourOnce Upon a Time…. Fairytale by Zacharias Topelius. An Ant Visits A Doctor, Avita, 2008, watercolourA Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves, Koolibri, 2010, pencil, acrylicAapo Ilves. Fairy Tales for Young and Old, Futu Print, 2012, watercolour, pencil, collageOver the Apple Bough/ The Prettiest Apple Tree, Koolibri, 2012, watercolour, pencilLeelo Tungal. Our Grandma Is a Witch, Tammerraamat, 2014, watercolour, pencilLeelo Tungal. Our Grandma Is a Witch, Tammerraamat, 2014, watercolour, pencilA Bunch of Berries. Seto Fairy Tales, Koolibri, 2015, watercolour, pencilA Bunch of Berries. Seto Fairy Tales, Koolibri, 2015, watercolour, pencilHelena Läks. The Secret Cat Bakery, Päike ja Pilv, 2016, watercolour, pencilLeelo Tungal. Ludwig the Snowman’s Lucky Day, Tammerraamat, 2016, collage, watercolour, pencilLeelo Tungal. Delila the Dolphin’s Whale of a Friend, Tammerraamat, 2017, collage, watercolour, pencilToon Tellegen. Everything Exists, Aasta Raamat, 2018, collage, watercolour, pencilToon Tellegen. Everything Exists, Aasta Raamat, 2018, collage, watercolour, pencilJaan Tätte. The Seal’s Problem, Tammerraamat, 2019, watercolour, pencil

Hallo!

Tammerraamat
2017, 47 pp
ISBN: 9789949565986
fiction, poetry, picturebook

The Cats' Secret Bakery

Helena Läks

Päike ja Pilv
2016, 47 pp
ISBN: 9789949986224
fiction, fairy-tale, picturebook

The Time Machine

Henno Käo

TEA Kirjastus
2009, 47 pp
ISBN: 9789985718131
fiction, poetry

Knut the Musician

Zacharias Topelius

Translator: Linda Viiding
Varrak
2003, 28 pp
ISBN: 9985305590
fiction, storybook
2006–2012, 2016
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate

2020
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Diploma
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Diploma of the National Library of Estonia

2019
Edgar Valter illustration prize
Good Children's Book (Leelo Tungal. Julius the Bunny's Computer)

2018
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Toon Tellegen. Everything Exists)

2017
Annual International Contest ‘Image of the Book’, Moscow, diploma

2016
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit, Prize of the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn (Leelo Tungal. Ludwig the Snowman’s Lucky Day)

2015
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (A Bunch of Berries. Seto Fairy Tales)

2014

IBBY Honour List (The Prettiest Apple Tree)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Our Grandma is a Witch)
Aasta Rosin (Raisin of the Year) Award, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre

2013
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonian Children’s Literature Centre diploma for best original illustration by an Estonian artist
25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, 2 Certificates of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot; Birthday Stories)
Good Children’s Book (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot)

2012
25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Andrus Rootsmäe. The Prodigal’s Saga)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Aapo Ilves. Fairy Tales for Children and Adults)
Good Children’s Book (Aino Pervik. Klabautermann’s Worries)

2010

25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (A Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (A Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves)

2009
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Diploma
25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Great Journeys of a Little Man)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Henno Käo. The Time Machine), Special prize of the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre (The Golden Book of Estonian Fairy Tales)

2008
Raisin of the Year Award (Once Upon a Time…)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize of Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union (Once Upon a Time…)

2007
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. A Sun With a Tail)

2006

25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (The Big Book of Fable)
Nukits Competition, 3rd place (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf; Felix the Hedgehog and the Criminal Zoo; Felix the Hedgehog and the Troublesome Autumn)

2005
Baltic Book Fair, 3rd place, Most Beautiful Book, Riga, Latvia (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize for a series (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and the Criminal Zoo; Felix the Hedgehog and the Troublesome Autumn)

2004
Nukits Competition, 2nd place (Andrus Kivirähk. Lotte’s Journey South)
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf)

2003
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Zacharias Topelius. Knut the Musician)

2002
5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Andrus Kivirähk. Lotte’s Journey South)
Displayed since 1988 in over 80 exhibitions in Estonia, Belarus, India, Italy, Japan, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the USA.

2020
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Group exhibition of Estonian artists „Secret Lives III”, Warsaw, Płock, Poland
Group exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Leafing Through Estonian Children’s Books III”, Moscow, Russia

2019

Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “From the Mountains to the Sea”, Kraków, Rabka-Zdrój, Elbląg, Poland
Group exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Leafing Through Estonian Children’s Books II”, Moscow, Kolomna, Russia

2018–2019
Jubilee exhibition "Everyone Was There", Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tapa, Kuressaare, Haapsalu

2018
Solo exhibition "Winter and Snow, Twilight and Light", Haapsalu Children's Library
Group exhibition of Estonian artists „Secret Lives II”, Skizza gallery, Jerusalem, Israel
Group exhibition of Estonian illustrators „Tra ghiaccio e fuoco“, Rome, Pesco Sannita, Italy

2018–2020

Exhibition of Baltic illustrators “Running with Wolves”, London, the United Kingdom; Estonian Children’s Literature Centre (“Wolf Run”), Tallinn; Gdańsk, Wrocław, Białystok, Warsaw, Płock, Szczecin, Poland; Pordenone, Italy; Vilnius, Lithuania

2018–2019
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Running with Wolves”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn; selected works, Pskov, St. Petersburg, Russia

2017–2019
Solo exhibition on tour, Japan

2017–2018
International exhibition "Migrations", Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea

2017
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT)
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre

2016
Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre

2016
7th Lessedra International Painting & Mixed Media Competition, exhibition, Sofia, Bulgaria

2016–2018
Group exhibition of Estonian artists „Secret Lives I”, hotel Sofitel in Strasbourg, Embassy of Estonia in Paris, France

2016
Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Fairy Tales Come to Visit”, New York Estonian House, USA

2016
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 City Library, 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

2015–2019
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

2015–2016
Travelling exhibition, “Made with the Heart. Estonian Children’s Book Illustration”, Moscow, Krasnoarmeysk, Cheboksary, Russia

2014
European Professional Doll Art Festival, Riga, Latvia

2014–2017
“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
“A Handful of Book Illustrations by Estonian Artists”, Poland
Exhibition by Estonian illustrators, “Old Fairy Tales” (Brothers Grimm), Estonia, Russia

2011
Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia

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

2008
Solo exhibition, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn, Estonia

2007
Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
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
Solo exhibition, Haus Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
In 2006, one of Estonia’s most renowned illustrators – Regina Lukk-Toompere – wrote the following:

"When doing my illustrations, I think about:
1) what I liked as a child when looking at pictures in books;
2) what I learned about designing books when STUDYING AT SCHOOL;
3) what I have SEEN IN THE WORLD.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, which has pretty pictures.
NOTE! Pretty doesn’t mean a sweet princess, a furry kitty, or little pink flowers. A pretty picture is tasteful, has good composition, is unique, and is certainly INTERESTING and INFORMATIVE for the child.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, in which the pretty pictures convey the writer’s written text, its mood, and its style well.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, in which pretty pictures and a pleasant text are nicely positioned on the page. This means having a good, interesting design, the right font selection, the right font size, and a comfortable book format.
I have one more point of departure: a child must be able to ADMIRE the pictures. He or she must feel that there are people in the world, who draw well. I am disappointed when a child looks at a picture and says: I could have drawn that picture myself, too."

This text has the ring of a manifest, the following of which might benefit most illustrators of children's books.

Regina Lukk-Toompere, who was born in 1953 to a family of deported Estonians in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, began drawing already early in her childhood, just like many good artists. She got the idea of becoming an illustrator during her school years, when a teacher of art history at the Tartu Children’s Art School recommended that she study book design. In 1981, Lukk-Toompere graduated from the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR in the field of graphic design, specialising in book design and illustration. This is also the origin of her fantastic grasp of traditional drawing-, graphic-, and painting techniques.
Lukk-Toompere’s works are always recognisable. Over the years, she has remained loyal to her robust and vivid style. The very attributes that later made Lukk-Toompere who she is can already be seen in the first book that she illustrated: Ernst Enno’s "Üks rohutirts läks kõndima" (A Grasshopper Went Walking; published 1983). The use of watercolours (which is already so characteristic of the artist) manifested in this picture book, which she did as a final project – vivid layers of watercolour glowing alongside one another, clear outlines, a strong graphic element, and, of course, an abundance of detail. Details are important to the artist; or, as she herself says – they are her passion.
Regina Lukk-Toompere says that every one of her works is preceded by a period of meticulous preparation. For example: when illustrating Andersen’s "Vankumatu tinasõdur" (The Steadfast Tin Soldier), the artist went and purchased a fish, cut it open, found herself a tin soldier, and started planning out her illustration. Towards artistic ends, Lukk-Toompere has also kept a grasshopper in a jar, studied ethnographic objects and patterns, and done everything possible for the illustration to be informative and true to life. However, the artist does not get bogged down in details, but rather crafts complete solutions. The manner in which the text and the picture are situated on the pages can vary greatly from book to book. In some places, the illustration covers a large portion of any possible and impossible free space, but still does not have a tiring or over-the-top effect on the reader. Sometimes, on the other hand, there is only one small detail on a large, white surface; but this similarly leaves no feeling of emptiness. A new story in turn may arise out of every detail, or a new whole might be formed.
Lukk-Toompere has acknowledged that she constantly makes improvements to her outlines while making them, and the idea that is usually ultimately realised in the watercolour indeed ripens over the course of "doodling". When she reaches the colour stage, however, everything is readied in nearly a single go. Each colour finds its sole proper place, and every detail is placed harmoniously within the overall whole.
Colours are very important to Regina Lukk-Toompere. She has matched the most variegated, intensive tones side-by-side with one another. In the case of her latest books, such as "Sada saarelehte, tuhat toomelehte" (A Hundred Ash Leaves, A Bird Cherry Leaves; published 2010), the design comprises a quite effective black-and-white coupling. In "Üle õue õunapuu" (The Prettiest Apple Tree; published 2012), the artist uses only black, grey, and greenish tones. These two books give a strongly graphical and elegant effect. In both cases, the artist has also skilfully incorporated several ethnographic details.
Regina Lukk-Toompere’s immense variety cannot be left unmentioned. The best proof of this is the fact that the artist has also participated in the making of a number of animated films. Her greatest fame in this has come from her work as a background artist for the Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits film "Lotte reis lõunamaale" (Lotte’s Journey South; released in 2000). Lukk-Toompere’s illustrations were also published in a book, based on the film. A sharp eye can find in her pictures a whole series of characters not actually encountered in the film, each of which could almost tell its very own tale in turn. At times, the options offered in Lukk-Toompere’s pictures have been so convincing that the authors have indeed adjusted their texts and scripts accordingly.
Regina Lukk-Toompere has remained loyal to her style throughout the years. She has perhaps become only more talented, bold, and confident. In addition to her primary techniques – watercolours and pencil drawings – the artist has begun to implement collage over the last few years. Similar to her earlier styles, however, the artist still does not use a computer for her work, which is exceptionally rare in our day. Collage has mostly brought realism into her works, but has also given them a kind of unique, dreamy feel. Another interesting aspect is that a reader can still encounter in her works leaf- and grass textures, which already appeared in Ernst Enno’s poetry collection. In recent years, however, the artist has started to use these motifs in collage the very most – for example, in "Suur valmiraamat" (Big Book of Fables; published 2006), in which the leaf motifs give the effect of a powerful generalisation, but a love for detail still remains. Lukk-Toompere’s works over the last few years make it ever more apparent that she does not create a new fairy tale with her illustrations; rather, her fantasy derives from the text, and everything that she depicts is more genuine than genuine can be – whether or not that is possible.
Regina Lukk-Toompere’s works are admirable, and there are no doubt very few children who might say that they could have drawn that picture themselves, too. And if such a child truly can be found, then he or she may regard themselves as a true artist...

Text by Eva Laantee Reintamm

31.03.2014