Books – Made in UAE Guides UAE Artists to Develop their Own Silent Book Ideas

May 10, 2018 - 12:42 pm

13 Emirati and UAE-based artists embarked on an exciting creative journey to learn more about the technical and emotional aspects of illustrations in silent books for children, as part of their participation at the seventh edition of ‘Books – Made in UAE’ – an annual cultural collaboration between the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region.

The four-day workshop was recently held at 1971 Design Space at Sharjah’s Flag Island, where participants were invited to think up stories connected with a personal life experience, exchange ideas, and learn how to illustrate in a convincing way for children.

As the workshop conductor, multi-award winning German illustrator Katrin Stangl assisted participants to work on the visualisation of their story, their personal drawing style and techniques, to finally enable each artist to complete their storyline and bring the first few scenes to life on two double-pages in full colour.

Speaking about her experience at the workshop, Stangl said: “Storytelling is a historical traditional pastime, and the inherent narrative power of images can bridge cultural and linguistic barriers. Through initial warm-up drawings and one-on-one meetings with the participants, my aim was to help the artists bring their silent book ideas to life.

“As we walked through the different stages of the workshop, some of my works were passed around and analysed by the participating artists to find answers to questions like: what kind of storytellers they are, what characters, settings, picture language, or technique they would like to use to create their story, and in what ways would they like children to connect with these narratives.”

One of the workshop participants, Khadija Al Mulla, a 26-year-old Emirati national said: “I started illustrating when I was quite young, and I love illustrating for children. I want more UAE locals to illustrate for children and I would love to see more authentic children’s literature to being produced here, seeped in our cultural and human values and conveyed to the younger generations in creative and engaging ways. I believe locally made books will be a source of pride and knowledge for children in the UAE, and will definitely enrich our literary landscape.”

“I’m here to gain an insight about the mentality of illustrators, to learn about what to have in mind while illustrating for children, what are things that are appealing to them, things one should avoid… what is most appealing to the publishers, let’s say. I won’t reveal much about my book idea, but all I will say is that it is focuses on the human emotion of greed, and how children can avoid it.”

Another workshop participant, 32-year-old Asma Enayeh, a mother of two young girls says that for young children pictures are the pillars of the story. For her, illustrations are the starting point of learning and communication for children as pictures help them explore their surroundings, and bring them into contact with objects that they don’t necessarily understand but open possibilities for them to be creative and build dreams.

“I have been working as a freelance artist in Dubai for six years working on custom portraits, and children’s illustrations are my greatest passion. I want turn this into a full-time profession and, as I am a traditionalist – I like to sketch by hand. Thus, I have been attending programmes and workshops that can hone my traditional drawing skills. This workshop is of immense value to me as it is focusing on teaching us a variety of drawing techniques that I didn’t know existed. Today, for example, Katrin taught us the hatching technique on acrylic, and I decided my silent book will be based on this technique.”

The annual UAEBBY and Goethe-Institut Gulf Region project, sponsored by Sharjah-based cultural initiative Knowledge without Borders, brings international experts to the UAE to expand the reach and ability of Emirati authors and illustrators of children’s books.