Constanze is an award-winning, German based illustrator and author. She has a wide variety of clients in the illustration industry, including publishing houses, magazines, newspapers and design companies.
Her work has been published and exhibited in Germany, the USA, the UK, Korea, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, China, the Netherlands and Spain.
In 2010 her illustrations have been selected for the Illustrator’s Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the exhibition of the cj Book Prize in South Korea. In 2011 one of her books won a bronze medal, another illustration a gold medal in the 3×3 children’s competition.
In 2012 her book “Semeli’s Smile” got the National Cyprus Book Award.
Here is Constanze explaining her process:
I start with a sketch of the illustration on a thick structured paper, but I don’t think it’s specific acrylic paper.
Then I use acrylic paint to lay down the under painting. Depending on the work I use a different underground color, if I want the color to be bright and intense, I usually go with yellow/ ochre as the background color, if I want the work to be in muted colors, I use ochre, white and lilac. If you have this kind of underground color, it always shines through and pulls together the piece. you don’t have a pure green, red and yellow next to each other, but they will be slightly influenced by the background and will belong to the same color family.
Then I transfer the sketch on top.
And start working on basic colors.
Then I start putting in Details and coloring smaller areas using acrylic and color pencil.
Then I start making digital changes.
Till I get to the finished piece.
English Translation: I’m the Best – written and illustrated by Constanze von Kitzing. Here are a few additional book covers illustrated by Constanze.
English Translation: Kitten and the Snow.
English Translation: Penguin Ice – written and illustrated by Constanze.
Semeli’s Smile won the National Cyprus Book Award.
How long have you been illustrating?
I finished university in 2007, and have been illustrating ever since. But I was drawing my entire life, starting off with princesses and horses.
Did you go to college to study art?
I did study communication design and then changed to illustration.
What types of classes did you take?
Illustration, writing, photography, typography, graphic design, painting…
What was the first piece of art that you sold?
When I was 16 or so I designed a poster for a basketball game and the boyfriend of my arts teacher liked it so much that he actually bought it. Now I frequently sell my original works that I created for children’s books.
Have you seen your style change since when you first started?
Of course. You start off somewhere and change and change… I think I’m still developing, it would be sad to get stuck somewhere, I think.
How many picture books have you published?
Eighteen so far.
What book was your first? When was that?
My very first picture book was published in 2009 by La Joie de Lire in France. It’s called “Cache-Cache” and is a book about a little lion that tries to catch other animals, but they always hide from him. So it’s a playful book about camouflage.
How did the contract come about?
In university we regularly visited book fairs and it was when I attended the Bologna Book Fair that I showed the project to different publishers. Some were interested and in the end I went with the publisher I liked most. I had to rework the entire book though, as they didn’t like my fist character, but there’s a lot you would do to get your first book published, right!?
I see that you are represented by The Organisart UK. Can you tell me a little bit about the agency and how you connected?
They actually approached me, they found me through an illustration friend that is represented by them and linked on my website, Violeta Dabija. I can’t tell you much about them, other than that we get along well and that I get jobs from the US and UK I think I would not have gotten in another way.
Do you ever sell your illustration work on your own?
Of course, most of my jobs I get myself, but they are mostly not (yet) in the US or UK.
Have most of your books been published in Germany?
No, actually not. Most of my books have been published in France with La Joie de Lire, some in Spain, in South Korea, in the Netherlands, the UK, in Cyprus… 3 books have been published in Germany and another one will be out in autumn this year, but I feel I’m just getting starting on the German market.
How is the children’s market for Illustrators in Germany?
It’s tough, as it is anywhere else. Every market is very different, that is challenging and exciting at the same time. In France and Spain, they are very open to artistic illustrations, in Germany I feel they are a little more conservative, but I get paid better. In the beginning I had a hard time to get started here, this is when I went for other countries and that was very successful.
Have you published picture books in English?
Only one, “Jack and the Beanstalk” with Oxford University Press, BUT I can proudly announce that my “Prayers for Children” is going to be published this spring in the US.
What is your favorite materials to use for your illustration?
Acrylic and Color Pencil.
Do you use Photoshop to clean up your illustrations or paint your illustrations?
To clean up.
Do you own a graphic tablet?
Yes, I can totally recommend it!
What are the names of some of the book publishers you have worked with?
Aga World (KR), Baha’i-Verlag (D), Bayard (F), Buro Extern (NL), Carlsen, Cornelsen, EEN Art (KR), Kalandraka (ES), La Joie de Lire (CH), Oxford University Press (UK), Sauerländer (D)
What type of things do you do to get your work seen?
Website, Book Fairs, Sending out cards… the usual…
How did your illustrations get picked for Illustrator’s Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair?
I just send my illustrations there and was lucky I guess…
Did you attend Bologna Children’s Book Fair?
All the time, it’s the best!
Do you have a strong artist community where you live?
No, I used to live in Hamburg and there were MANY other illustrators, that was really nice. When I married I moved to Cologne, here are only a few (but still very nice and good) illustrators .
Do you have a studio in your home?
Do you try to stick to a schedule everyday?
No, I just paint whenever there is time. I have a little daughter and I basically work around her sleeping hours.
I see that you have written and illustrated a number of your own books. How did that come about?
All of the books published with La Joie de Lire in France are self-written and illustrated. As it is quite hard to get published at first, I thought it might be easier with my own project, so I came up with the lion series (that also happened to be my diploma) and they liked it. So, whenever I have something now that I wrote myself, I present it to them and often times they liked and printed it.
So you write and spoeak several languages?
Just German and English, and a Little Bit of French, too.
So the publishers translate the books you send into their language?
Have you been to the United States?
Yes, twice to NY just for fun and then to Minneapolis for a semester abroad.
Would you like to illustrate a US children’s book?
What are your career goals?
Mh, good questions, I feel I just go along with whatever happens. I am teaching illustration and find that I really love that, so I want to continue with it. I love children’s book and want to illustrate more of those… So, I would love to continue doing what I’m doing basically…
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on another project that I wrote, but of course, it’s still top secret! J Besides that I just finished a cover and Poem-Spread for Babybug Magazine and have a request for a children’s theater poster.
Are there any painting tips (materials, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
Not really, all I can say that it takes a lot of time to develop your style and that would be my crucial advice: take your time and work hard!!!! J
How do you send your finished artwork into the publishers?
For jobs for magazines, I scan the work myself and then do digital corrections, for books, I usually keep painting until everyone is happy and then the publisher does the scanning. sometimes, there are still corrections that need to be done, and then either me or the in house graphic designer does it.
Is there anything that you do that identifies your style or work?
In a lot of images, I let the background be and this has become a kind of trade mark, something that helps others recognize my work.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Do what you love, believe in yourself, work hard, have fun, help other illustrators, know your rights…
Thank you Constanze for sharing your illustrations, books, and your process. Absolutely loved showing off all your illustrations. Please let us know when you have a new book or success. I do hope I will be able to buy one of your books here in the US, soon.
If you would like to visit Constanze you can find her at: www.constanzevonkitzing.de/ Please take a minute to leave Constanze a comment. I am sure she would love to hear from you. Thanks!