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Estonian Book Illustrators Successful Abroad

The works of three Estonian illustrators, Pamela Samel, Gertrud Oberg and Ulla Saar, were selected for the final round of the 57th illustration exhibition competition of the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair.

A total of 4,345 artists’ works from 91 countries around the world were submitted to the competition. The jury selected 315 finalists for the final round of the competition, three of whom are Estonian illustrators, among others.

Pamela Samel submitted illustrations to the competition, which are from Liis Kivirand’s book “Toru” (2021). The story stimulates imagination and interest in the world. It directs the child to notice the surrounding environment and to ask questions about it. The book contains witty pictures from which a child discovers many familiar things, but also some surprising ones. In 2021, the idea of the book also won the third place in the Põlvepikuraamat competition. Pamela Samel is an artist with a background in art education and textile design, whose drawings are a mixture of reality and playfulness, the depiction of everyday life through naive cheerfulness and longing.

The young Estonian graphic artist Gertrud Oberg got to the final round with her graphic drawings, which have been used to illustrate the role-playing book “His Majesty the Worm”. Gertrud Oberg graduated from Põlva Art School and is a student of classical art. Her works are very realistic and full of details.

Ulla Saar submitted illustrations to the competition from Liis Sein’s book “Mona’s Dad Has Some Ideas” (2022), which tells the story of a father who decides to change his life. This, in turn, creates a real marathon of hobbies and tests the patience of other family members. Ulla Saar is an illustrator with an architectural background, whose image style is characterized by a modern designer approach to book illustration, which is witty and playful and a part of the design itself, rather than an independent image.

The illustration exhibition of the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair was held for the first time in the year of 1967. It’s aim is to introduce the latest world trends in the field of children’s book illustration and helps to discover the work of both experienced book artists and talented newcomers. In 2022 the works of another Estonian illustrator, Marja-Liisa Plats, were shown at the exhibiton.

The children’s book fair will take place in Bologna, Italy from 6th to 9th of March 2023. The official website of the fair can be found here.

Illustration from a book “Toru” by Pamela Samel