Illustration Inspiration: Charles Santoso, Illustrator of This Way, Charlie
The Children’s Book Review | April 21, 2020
Charles Santoso has illustrated several picture books, including I Don’t Like Koala and The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell; Ida, Always by Caron Levis; and the Peanut Butter & books by Joe McGee. He lives and works in Singapore.
I make art because …
I like drawing. I like storytelling. When I combine these two, sometimes things happen. Some people call it art, others call it by different names. I often call it magic.
This Way, Charlie. It’s a wonderful friendship story between a blind horse and a grumpy goat written by Caron Levis. Reading the manuscript made me smile, tear up and smile again. I love it. The picture book is published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Art medium used …
I often use different methods for different stories. For This Way, Charlie, I used Photoshop with Wacom Graphic Tablet.
Artistic process …
After reading the manuscript and understanding the “heart” of the story, I began my quest in finding a suitable visual look for the book. I did lots of research, looking at lots of videos and books about goats, horses, and farms. I then studied the anatomy of horses and goats, as they are generally really tricky to visualize. I also tried different rendering approaches for the book. The process was quite similar to a cook finding a recipe for a new dish.
While these were happening on the side, I also started to do sketches for interiors of the book, playing around with story beats, compositions, and page turn.
Once the book dummy was done and everyone was happy with it, I moved to the final rendering phase. The “recipe” from the early process ensures our whole book has a consistent look.
I am inspired by …
Many things inspired me, especially art in general. These days I do get more and more inspirations from mundane events, little moments that I observe in real life. For example, finding a lone wildflower among concrete or seeing the way light shines on leave surfaces. Seeing different perspectives from different people—especially children—really intrigues me.
My favorite place to create & illustrate is …
I love working in my studio to do finished illustrations, and I love cafes or libraries for me to work on my sketches.
My most used art supply or tool is …
Wacom graphic tablet and iPad. I also use pen and pencil for sketching and for doing some parts of my other books.
Illustrator idols …
There are too many of them! Wolf Erlbruch, Norman Rockwell, Bill Watterson, Iain McCaig, and so SO many others. I could go on and on about this, and I better stop now.
All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…
The Little Prince, although I personally think it is absolutely perfect as is and doesn’t really need to be visually interpreted by others.
A literary character to create art with …
I would love to draw with the Little Prince. He’ll ask too many questions of course, but I think I’ll learn many things from him.
Currently working on …
I’m working on a picture book that I am writing and illustrating. I’m both nervous and excited!
For more information about Charles Santos, you can visit http://www.charlessantoso.com.
Written by Caron Levis
Illustrated by Charles Santos
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the award-winning team behind Ida, Always comes a story about a friendship that grows between a blind horse and a gruff goat
All the animals at the Open Bud Ranch can see that Jack likes keeping his space to himself. But when Charlie arrives, he doesn’t see Jack at all. He’s still getting used to seeing out of only one of his eyes.
The two get off to a bumpy start. At first, Jack is anxious and distrustful. But one day, he summons his courage and guides Charlie to his favorite sunlit field: this way, Charlie. And so begins a powerful friendship that will be tested by life’s storms—but will ultimately change each life for the better.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | April 21, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1419742064
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