Bimba Landmann is an author and illustrator whose artwork has been published in over two dozen children’s books, including Clare and Francis, In Search of the Little Prince, and I Am Marc Chagall (all Eerdmans). Bimba was born in Milan, Italy, where she currently lives with her husband and son.
What made you decide to become an illustrator?
When I was just a child, I visited with my classroom the San Marco Museum, in Florence. This museum was an ancient convent, the cells of the friars painted by Beato Angelico. I was totally in love with that magical place. In this museum there is also a room full of ancient illuminated books. When I looked at these books, it was a shock. I was totally in love, those golds and blues. . . . This was for me so strong and powerful that I can remeber as if it happened today. So I told myself: this is my dream, to paint books like this, and nothing more. From that day I’ve never stopped drawing and painting.
What’s a typical workday like?
My typical workday is made up of moments of great concentration. When I create, I need to have time for myself. Silence. And a lot of courage, because things don’t always turn out the way you want. And then you must also have tenacity, patience, and trust.
I spend a lot of time in my studio. And a long time inside me. I try to collect the shells that the sea gives me when the tide goes out.
Where do the ideas for your illustrations come from?
I’d like to know too!
I believe they come from a mysterious place that lives within us. This place is nourished by the beauty we see, by nature, by art, by music, by grandiose thoughts. It is not only “my” place, though. It is the place of everyone.
Do you have any advice for would-be illustrators?
I recommend reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. No word has ever been deeper.
And then work, work, and still work.Never stop improving. And never delude yourself that you are good.
What characteristics do illustrators need most?
I think illustrating is a way to tell stories. This is why illustrators are often also authors.
But I want to say that for me the story is not a didactic thing. Even a mysterious image can be powerful.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I used to collect my dreams in a little book.
What is your favorite thing about being an illustrator?
Freedom of creativity. This is the greatest gift that humans have received. The ability to create. And all the people can do it.
This is what I try to give people when I run courses. I just try to help people to open that door and discover all the beauty inside.
What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?
This is the most difficult part. And you can’t always do it quickly. For me it works like this: everything proceeds together with my existence and my life. And when I’m ready . . . hey! We leave for a new journey.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
I do not know . . . maybe now? I say this because now with social media people write to me, children send me their drawings, and I find that theater plays have been made with my books. I can see and discover all the flowers and fruits born from the inspiration of my books, and this is such a powerful gift. It’s a surprise and a daily joy!
What is something you wish someone had told you when you first started illustrating?
Exactly what my wonderful teacher Štěpán Zavřel told me. He gave me the courage to believe in myself, in my poetics, and in my sensitivity. The courage to be completely myself.
And then work hard, and never give up. He was a true master.
What’s up next for you?
Top secret! But I can say that I will be an author and illustrator again and that I am doing my best!
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