Meet Ana Seixas, the illustrator of Me
Ana Seixas | Photo courtesy of Sara Frost
For the fifth app in our Digital Toys series, Me, we had the pleasure of working with Ana Seixas, a designer and illustrator from Portugal.
We were able to ask Ana some questions about her process for illustrating Me and learned some interesting things about how living in Portugal and Spain influences her work.
Tell us about your process for illustrating Me by Tinybop.
Working on this project was such a fun challenge! It was the first time I worked on illustrations for an app. At first, I felt so overwhelmed with all the possibilities that it was hard for me to focus on one single thing. When I finally saw the "big picture," it was amazing: the infinite possibilities made me realize that this was a unique project.
Having constant contact with the Tinybop team was great as they guided me through the entire process, discussing ideas and solutions.
What were your inspirations for Me? Is illustrating for children different from illustrating for adults?
Animations, books, pictures, movies; everything is good inspiration. I just need to surround myself with information and it will flow.
The main difference between illustrating for children and for adults is that with children, there is a chance to go beyond expectations, create incomparable universes, and see how children make sense of it.
Was there any part or feature of Me that you thought was challenging to illustrate?
Emotions. I always try to be aware that when I'm illustrating, I'm transmitting my personal feelings – and preconceived ideas about feelings – to the kids. It is impossible to dissociate myself as an individual from my work, so I believe that while I was creating illustrations for Me, I was also reflecting myself on them. That was a challenge!
What elements of illustrating facial parts did you find most important to include? Did you consider personality and emotions when illustrating eyes, mouths, eyebrows, etc.?
Sure. Every time I draw a face, I make the faces myself, and I think that helps me understand facial expressions. Eyes and eyebrows are definitely the most important, in my opinion.
Appropriately, a tree was used to represent a kid's family tree; what was the inspiration behind using an atom to represent a kid's friendships?
I gave it a lot of thought before going for the atom. I believe we are the center of our lives and friends are kid of like satellites that move around us and make us understand who we are and where we belong.
What is your favorite part or feature of Me?
Creating the avatars is so great! During the development of the app, I spent some time with my sisters and nephews trying out the avatar tool, not only to create our own avatars, but also avatars for the rest of the family. It was really fun to see how each one of them had different ideas on how to represent themselves and other family members. This made me realize that when a kid, or even an adult, starts to create their avatar, they open a door to a very personal view of their world!
Tell us about living in Portugal and Spain. How do your experiences or memories from these places influence your work?
Living in Barcelona for six years was maybe the most important path I have taken so far. It helped me grow as a part and as a professional. After working as a graphic designer for a while, I realized that I was happier and a better person while drawing and painting, either for kids or adults.
Portugal and Spain are countries with very different moods: Spain is loud, festive, and warm, while Portugal is blue, nostalgic, and calm. Both influence my work, and maybe spending time in these two countries helps me find a balance between both states of mind.
To ask a Me-inspired question, what is your favorite part about where you live?
Can you tell us about some other projects that you are currently working on?
I'm working on an exhibition I'll present in Barcelona in November. It's all about traveling – my favorite thing in the world! I'm also working on an editorial project for a Portuguese publisher. It's an illustrated map of 12 special places in my hometown, and that is lovely!
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Everywhere! I usually walk a lot so I can think, and I go to cafes to draw away from the computer. Exhibitions, concerts, movies, anything that keeps my mind busy will feed my inspiration to create images.
Who were some early inspirations in your life? Was art a part of your childhood?
I studied music at a conservatory and attended painting classes since a very early age. I think I was very lucky that my parents understood that we didn't have enough art classes at school and saw the need to find additional education for me in that field.
What were some of your favorite books as a kid, and what are your favorite children's books now?
Anything from the Dutch illustrator, Dick Bruna. I loved the characters, the bold colors, and the simplicity of shapes. Now, I really love Jon Klassen's stories, but I'm still very loyal to Dick Bruna.
Lastly, what do you think is the most exciting part about illustrating for children?
Every kid is different with their own ideas and thoughts. It's so exciting to find that every single one will have a different reaction to what I drew, or make different comments, or maybe focus on something that I didn't even notice. I'm certain that Me is an amazing tool to empower them to experience the creation of their unique universe.
Thank you, Ana!