Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 18, 2012

Illustrator Saturday – Roberta Aangaramo

I hope everyone will check back on Monday, because Robert is from Italy and I did not allow extra time for the translation from Italian to English and being in the hospital didn’t help out with the situation. I’ll be home on Monday.

Roberta Angaramo began her art career as an advertising illustrator and trompe l’oeil artist, but decided in 1999 to dedicate herself to illustrating children’s books. Since then, she has illustrated more than 30 titles for publishers all around the world.

Her books have been published in Italy, United States, China, Tiawan, Japan, Korea, Great Britian, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain.  In 2005 she won the Andersen Award for the Best Illustrated Series. 

Last week Roberta finsihed up the illustrations for a the book title PICK ME, a new brilliant story by Greg Gormley. Those are the pieces hanging in Roberts’ studio.

Her US publishers include: Simon and Schuster NY, Franklin Watts, Holiday House NY, and Purple Bear Publishing NY.

Here is Roberta’s Process::

I usually begin a new work studying the main characters with quick sketches in b/w. This is the most exciting part of my job for me.
I examine lots of photographic material looking for inspiration. If the story is about a dog, I spend time in the park watching dogs to find the right kind for my character (they are so funny!). Reality is often stranger than fiction!

Usually I study the light with sketches in B/w graphite but it depend on the story. For “Dog in Boots” (published by Holiday House) I used a fast draft to identify the colors because I had a clear idea of the light for each image and any further study would have taken away the fun of coloring.

Then I transfer the drawing on Fabriano 650g paper, I start to paint with acrylic colors putting a liquid base of an average intensity over the whole image, excluding the highest lights; then I return to the drawing with pencils and I increase tonalities and thickness of the colors little by little.

I put the finishing details with crayons. In the coloring step I add some special details such as wind (which is always
very present in my illustrations). Stepan Zavrel told me once: “The most little detail will turn an image into something magical: it can be a breath of wind, a leaf flying or a special light. “

Most recently, she illustrated: Errol and His Extraordinary Nose (Gullane Children’s Books, 2009)-(Holiday House,2010), This is the Bickleby’s Bird Bath (Atheneum, 2010), and The Ugly Duckling (Purple Bear Books, 2006).

Roberta lives in Italy in a small village near the woods with her husband and two funny cats.

When did you start painting?

I was born and grew up in Italy, in a small village surrounded by nature and by animals that I loved and still love nowadays! Drawing has always been one of my favorite games, a magical world to develop imagination and today to find myself. I graduated from the High School of Art in Cuneo (Piedmont) and then from the European Institute of Design in Turin. I studied painting with the artist Francesco Preverino (teacher of the Academy of Fine Arts of Turin): painting on large sizes was so exciting! I attended workshops at the International School of Illustration of Sarmede (TV) and in 1997 I won the 1° UNICEF Prize – Chioggia contest – with “A Fabulous Night”, written and illustrated by me.
Winning this award gave me the courage to pursue the professional career in the world of illustration.

What was the first piece of art that you got paid to do? When was that?

I started to work when I was still attending the European Institute of Design because I had to support myself. My first work was commissioned by an architect in 1994 and it was a mural painting of large size.

When you decided to get into children’s illustration, how long did it take you to land your first book contract?

I had always been in love with cartoons and illustration, but I had never imagined it could be a job. I decided to become an illustrator when I was 17: I was watching a catalog of the International Illustration Exhibition of Bologna and I had a sudden intuition. At that time I was wondering “Which artistic path should I have to follow?” so when I thumbed through those wonderful images I heard a voice inside myself saying:”Here it is! This is what I’ll do in my life!”

How did that happen?

My first contract came nearly 7 years later when I found the courage to realize my dream and I signed it with an Italian publishing house. I sent photocopies of my illustrations to some Italian publishers and got the first commission after a few months. It was amazing, I worked with such an enthusiasm!

Was if difficult to get US interest?

No it wasn’t.The interest in my work from the American market came with my first publication by Grimm Press (Taiwan) of the book “The Ugly Duckling” by H.C. Andersen, a wonderful text that strongly inspired me. It was immediately released in the U.S. by Purple Bear Books. Before that time I had never proposed my works to British and American Publishers.

Do you find any differences between European publisher, Asian Publishers, and US publishers?

There aren’t big differences between serious and fair publishers. I met intelligent and sensitive publishers from all nationalities who respected and stimulated my creativity and my personal growth.

Do you were travel to the US?

No, I have never been to the U.S. but I’ll do it very soon!

Do you use the same materials on all your paintings?

My illustrations are nearly all colored with a mixed technique of pencil,crayons and acrylic colors used in different ways.

Is the technique that you described in the illustration you sent to show us the steps you take, the same for all your illustrations?

Yes, generally it is but since I don’t want to get bored of the technique sometimes I change the steps.

Have you seen your style change over the years?

I think my style has changed over the years. It has evolved and it is always ion the move.

How did you end up being represented by Book Stop Literary Agency?

By chance, I was surfing in the web and I saw that a famous Italian illustrator was represented by Book Stop so I decided to write to Kendra Marcus. And to this day is about three years that we cooperate. I’m learning a lot with them.

Does Book Stop do all your marketing for you or do you still get involved in marketing yourself?
Book Stop does just a part of my marketing, basically in the American market. As to the English market I have entrusted my marketing to the Plum Pudding Agency while in the German one I collaborate with Barbara Kuper. I personally manage my contracts in the remaining publishing markets and I think that any illustrator should learn how to promote his/herself. It’s a way for growing overcoming shyness and naivety.

Do you work big and then let the publisher reduce the size to fit the book?

I usually work on a 1:1 scale but when I have to deal with special works, such as the posters and the official logo of the TIBE (Taipei International Book Exhibition of Taiwan, 2004), since everything had to be printed but also projected on maxi screens placed all around in the city I worked on a very large format (50x70cm).

Do you do anything digitally?

So far I’ve been using the digital technique just to correct and edit sketches and drafts.

Do you have any desire to use a graphic tablet?

Yes, I do. I’ve discovered this magical object recently and I’m taking information to buy one. I find it tremendous because it allows a stimulating and creative work process.

Have you ever thought of writing and illustrating your own book?

I wrote and illustrated several books such as “A Faboulus Night” Teatrio, “The Moon Is Sick!” Sun Ya Publications (HK), “Gelsomine’s Winter” Gakken. Only recently I’ve returned to work on projects completely written and illustrated by myself, that are still in preparation.

You have so many wonderful pieces of art on your website. Do you work everyday in your studio doing your art?

Yes I do, alternating work in my studio and teaching in painting classes for children.

Do you feel that starting out as an advertising illustrator was the thing that kick started your career in children’s books?

Starting out a an advertising illustrator was very helpful but I think the spring that pushed me to start my career was winning the 1°UNICEF prize contest, that encouraged me to launch into this world.

What types of things did you do as an advertising illustrator?

Posters, logos, cards, wine labels and department stores placards.

Do you have any tips on techniques you could share with illustrators just getting started?

Learn and try out all the techniques then choose the one or the ones suit you better. After having academically studied these techniques, forget them! Your personal style will thus come to life.

First BooK

Thank you Roberta for sharing your gorgeous illustrations. I will watch for more illustrated books from you.

Here is Roberta’s website address:  You can see a whole lot more if you visit.Everyone please take a minute to share any feedback with Roberta. I am sure she would love to hear from you.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I was immediately moved by that adorable dog in the tutu—how cute!!! Roberta, your color, movement, expression and creativity breathe life into EVERY painting, so much that they took MY breath away! “Gorgeous” is right!

    Thank you, Roberta, for such a treat, and Kathy, your hard work is really appreciated by everyone, I’m sure! Heal quickly, my dear 🙂


  2. What fun illustration to browse through! These are delightful.


  3. Love the colors in these!


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