Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 28, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Barbara Bongini


Author and illustrator specialized in children books and playbook, she works for the most important Italian publishing houses. Author and illustrator specialized in children books and playbook, she works for the most important italian publishing houses.

She also works for advertising, creating illustrations for packaging, folders, brochures and posters.

Specializing in the field of children, Barbara Bongini has worked for years with major Italian publishers.

Here is Barbara discussing her process:

First of all I have studied the main characters.


…..then what I have done some layouts with different views of the scene.



03cinderella-rough1After choosing the most effective shot, I began to improve detail.


And then I proceed with ink and then I proceed with sepia-colored ink.


The next step and the color.

It is a night scene must be used with appropriate general color tones.


… Add a little at a time all the details that are used to give more atmosphere all ‘illustration…


…until obtaining the final artwork.


Finished Illustration.


How long have you been illustrating?

It’s more than 20 years that I work as an illustrator. I feel myself like a veteran.


What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

It was a job that didn’t concern at all my current job. I have illustrated a rubber boat catalogue.


Did you go to college for art? If so, where?

I have attended the “European Institute of Design” in Milan.


What did you study there?

I studied “Drawing and illustration techniques”.


Do you think art school influenced your style?

It gave me a chance to see some (or various) applications of illustrations, styles, techniques, without influencing my drawing style.


What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I worked as an assistant for several illustrators.


When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

Just working with an illustrator who was working in this field, I decided that illustrate fairy tales was what I wanted to do.



I see you have illustrated a number of Fairy Pony book. When did you illustrate the first one?

I’ve illustrated six volumes of Fairy Ponies and some “Activity Album”. It was a job that took me two years.


How did that opportunity come your way?

At Usborne Publishing they saw my work. They found it interesting and then they get in contact with me.


How many of the Fairy books have you illustrated?

I’ve illustrated many of them, I have lost count… But each time I face up a new project I do it with a new spirit.


Was I WANT TO BE A FIREMAN your first book?

No, I did different things before, but this is anyway very old project.


How did you get the job to illustrate that book?

I had a little bit experience with shaped books and an art director asked me to realise the project with this traditional appearance.


I see you illustrated CINDERELLA AND HER VERY BOSSY SISTERS with Scholastic in 2016. How did they see your work?

It has been a fantastic job that gave me a lot of satisfaction, also to the Scholastic’s Editorial. Very funny!


It looks like you have another book by Mark Sperring with Scholastic this year. Was this the second of a two-book deal?

Yes. As soon as I started with “Cinderella” they proposed me to work on a second volume that will follow in the wake of the first one. It will be a surprise!


Are there any more books expected with Scholastic?

I really hope so! I enjoyed so much working with them and I would enthusiastically accept another proposal.


Have you done any book covers?

Yes. I already work on book covers and I like it very much because I can take care of each small detail.


Would you like to write and illustrate a children’s book?

I have already had this experience with some Italian publishers and I like to propose new projects.


Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I have no preconceptions but the project / text must be interesting.


Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

Unfortunately not. It happened that a text have been created based on my illustrations.


Have you worked with educational publishers?

Yes, at the beginning I’ve worked a lot for school (it has been a training ground).



Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Sure. I have worked with “…and Story Time”and “Highlihts High Five”. Very interesting.


Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

Since several years The Organisation, international Illustration Agency, is my agent for projects abroad. Thanks to them I got a lot of work. In Italy instead I have no one representing me. I work also through word of mouth.


What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

I always look around for new ideas to stimulate my artistic creativity. I don’t get stuck on a genre. When I start a new project I create a visual archive of the images I need. It is really a “visual bombing”!


What is your favorite medium to use?

The draw is done by hand with a china pen and then digitalised. I try anyway to use the PC as if I had crayons and paper.


Has that changed over time?

I changed because I had to adapt myself to the new technologies. I stared using water colours and acrylics then the digital imaging that offers a lot of possibilities.


Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, I work in my attic that is very comfortable but I would like to have a Studio.

Fiaba tasca 47 Belle fate:layout

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

Internet, undoubtedly .


Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I don’t have a fixed working time. I work when I am inspired, often during the night.


Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. A large window on the world and a fantastic archive.


Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop creating “ad hoc” brushes.


Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I have a Cintiq 22 HD. It is fantastic! It helps me to skip many steps saving a lot of time with the same results as before.


Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

Yes, I wish I could realise a Pop Up in a large-scale project.


What are you working on now?

I’m working for Usborne on a project linked to “Magic Paint” book line and on some volumes about the Greek myths.


Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.?

I can suggest customizing as much as possible brushes and textures in digital colouring.


Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I have no particular suggestions. Only to work with a lot of passion!


Thank you Barbara for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Barbara’s work, you can visit her at her agents website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Barbara. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Beautiful and fun work, Barbara! Thank you for sharing.


  2. Barbara, choosing illustrating fairy tales was the PERfect decision for your work 🙂 and it’s easy to see why Scholastic signed you up for more! Your work is truly magical and I can’t wait to see more. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, ladies 😀


  3. I love the different visual take on the fairy tales. Great work! Thanks for sharing.


  4. I love Barbara’s bright, fun, and captivating style! Made me smile!


  5. I love your work! It’s great; so whimsical and colorful!


  6. I love your work. It is truly magical and dynamic.


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