Camilla Pintonato is an author and illustrator based in Venice, Italy, whose illustrations, accompanied by her captivating story, provides a visual journey that beckons viewers into the world she’s created. Her artwork is a beautiful blend of bold detail and powerful simplicity, and the characters she crafts seem to leap off the page, imbued with life.

EBYR: What made you decide to become an author?

Camilla Pintonato (CP): My background is as an editorial graphic and illustrator. I don’t think becoming an author was a decision I made at one point in my life. My first book was a wordless book to which I added the text when it was published, and it was perhaps this that allowed me to enter this world; if I had thought “I have to write a book” from the beginning, I don’t think I would ever have made this book. So I realized that I could be an author because I was already an author!

EBYR: What’s a typical workday like?

I am an extremely orderly and habitual person. I can’t start working unless everything is neat and tidy, so the first thing I do in the morning is put everything in order. Then, depending on how much work I have, I draw for six or seven hours in a day (there are days when I don’t draw at all, fortunately!). I also usually take a lot of time to read. I read a lot. Half of my working day consists of drawing and the other half consists of reading: nonfiction but also narratives. Sometimes, while reading someone else’s text, ideas come to me that have nothing to do with what I’m reading.

EBYR: How much research do you do before you begin a book?

CP: It depends. If it’s an illustrated book, I would say I don’t do any specific research, since I start working on the book and try not to go and look at anything else and focus only on my ideas. If it’s a non-fiction book like Chickenology, of course, I do research all the time, until the book is finished.

EBYR: Where do you find your inspiration for new stories and characters?

CP: Usually from insomnia. All the books I’ve done so far are born while I couldn’t sleep. And then I would say obviously from my life: every protagonist of mine is always me, or at least a part of me.

EBYR: What inspired you to create The Biggest Mistake?

CP: The lack of inspiration. I have impostor syndrome: every time I tried to find a new subject or write a new book, I felt like I was doing something wrong. But everybody gets it wrong sooner or later, so I created this lion (that like me at the beginning) thinks: “Well, easy, it’s only 48 pages!” And yet, even with giving his best, the gazelle always eludes him, until he finds a way to stop trying without really stopping. This is a bit like I do: I deceive my mind by saying, “OK, that’s enough, it’s useless!” and then something—in the most unexpected moment—comes out. So I realized that sometimes you just have to wait for a good moment.

EBYR: Do you have a favorite spread from the book?

CP: I’d say I have a favorite sequence: those three pages of the sun going down as the gazelle gets closer and closer to the lion. I am obsessed with time and rhythm, and it seems to me that this sequence works well and is fun: the sun goes down, the gazelle approaches, its eyes get bigger and bigger and then…

EBYR: Is there anything else you feel we should know about The Biggest Mistake or yourself?

CP: The little lion and I keep on making mistakes in life. Maybe I didn’t fully realize it before writing this book; sometimes the books you write surprise you—it seems that you aren’t writing them so much as your subconscious is writing them. But do we really learn from making mistakes? Who knows! Maybe there are many different ways of seeing a mistake, and maybe a mistake is just a wrong way to approach a problem.

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