Inside the Studio with It’s Raining Elephants, Illustrators of Martha and Me
The Children’s Book Review | February 28, 2018
It’s Raining Elephants is the collective name of Swiss duo Nina Wehrle and Evelyne Laube, who founded their own illustration studio in 2008. They have created several children’s books.
Inside It’s Raining Elephants’ Studio
Our small studio is in a house on top of a hill in Lucerne, Switzerland. It’s called The Yellow House and offers studios and apartments to artists, designers and musicians. There are guest rooms for artist residencies, a wood workshop, and a big empty space in the cellar for collaborative projects. Outside there are a vegetable garden, a bathtub, and a pizza oven. The view from our studio is what we love most. We can see the sky, the Pilatus Mountain, the river, and part of the city. When we enter the balcony of our room it feels like we are traveling on a cruise ship. We don’t need many things to work. A big table, our favorite tools and books, a scanner and a printer, some light and good company is enough.
Besides our home base studio, we spend a lot of time in the ceramic workshop of Nina’s dad, where we enjoy the calm and inspiring atmosphere. There is no internet, so we are able to disconnect from the distractions of daily business and just concentrate on creating things.
It’s Raining Elephants’ Creative Process
We developed our own methods of working together step by step. In art school in Lucerne, we were part of a collaborative and very motivated class. We noticed that the two of us were able to work very closely on a common vision, to trust and surprise each other. Before we start drawing a project, we like to define the wordplay rules, the topic and format of the project, and the techniques we will employ. Once we start, we regroup, show each other and discuss our work in order to make further decisions. We rarely get lost in long discussions, because we trust in trying things out visually.
For our book Martha & Me, Nina wrote and drew most parts of the story and Evelyne was an important sparring partner. It was quite a long journey to create this book and it was challenging to keep the freshness of the first sketches. Nina worked for weeks on the storyboard, changing things again and again until it felt right. Lots of details in the book are taken from real life and personal memories. For example, all the furniture depicted is inspired by Nina’s temporary home in Hamburg. She lived there with a friend and her seven-year-old son, who was a passionate drawer at that time.
Visually the book changed a lot with the final drawings. We were looking for a vibrating contrast between the colorful and expressive lion and Martha’s ligne claire drawing style and her black and white world. Accidents and playing around with brushes and ink helped a lot.
Written and Illustrated by It’s Raining Elephants
Publisher’s Synopsis: A beautifully illustrated story that celebrates the joys of artistic creation and the power of imagination.
Martha loves drawing and painting. When she draws a lion that steps right out of the picture, the two go on a wild adventure. Martha paints a universe and embarks on a series of funny and surreal escapades with the lion and so begins a relationship full of invention, creativity, and exuberance.
Eventually things get out of control―the lion is too wild and too hungry, and he disappears in the middle of their best adventure. Martha is inconsolable, but the only way out is through―so she takes another piece of paper and starts all over again. Beautifully illustrated with powerful and effective line drawings and bright Pantone inks, this story revels in the joy of artistic creation and unbound imagination.
Illustrated throughout in 4 Pantones.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Thames & Hudson | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0500651421
Discover more books like “Martha & Me,” written and illustrated by It’s Raining Elephants, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Adventure, Drawing, Imagination, and Lions. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.