Today we celebrate the book birthday of Diego & Frida: A Bilingual Book. We sat down with Musa illustrator Ellia Ana Hill to learn all about the inspiration behind this book.
But first, a little bit about the book:
Introduce your little ones in English and Spanish to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, known together as the Elephant and the Dove. Who’s your other half, your media naranja? Medias Naranjas: Diego & Frida will introduce your little ones to two of Mexico's iconic figures and the friendship that united them. Muralist Diego Rivera and artist Frida Kahlo were each other's muses and peculiar halves. This iconic, creative couple has left the art world ablaze with their murals, paintings and love stories.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
As a kid, I always loved telling stories through words and pictures. I loved being able to draw out the events of the day, tell my family how much I loved them, or share my feelings with them. I loved communicating through writing and drawing. It was easy, it made others happy, it didn't require a trip to the store, or cost money. I could find inspiration through books and other words that people said and draw a story from that. My mind was always in creative mode. Realizing that I could write and illustrate books became the goal since I was five and that remains my goal and inspiration.
What was the most difficult scene to illustrate in this story?
The most difficult scene would be spread four. Having to redraw Diego's mural and cut it into tiny paper pieces took a lot of time. You don't want to oversimplify someone else's beautiful work but you also don't want to duplicate it exactly without it looking like a poor copy. It's a fine line trying to recreate a masterpiece using paper, your own style, and making it kid friendly for a board book. It was quite daunting.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as a writer/illustrator until now?
Not everyone relates to your story or your humor. But the reality is, not everyone has to relate to it, to enjoy it, appreciate it, or even, celebrate it. Not everyone takes the time to read the story, but there are so many who do and so many who value the hard work and love poured into the work of an artist and writer.
What comes next for you as an author?
I have a couple books coming out in the next year. I'm the illustrator of one of them (through Lil Libros). And I'm the author and illustrator of a book called "Nina's Dresses" (through Orange hat publishing) which is set to come out in April 2024. This story is about a charismatic girl and her unique fashion. It is dedicated to my mom- the one who showed me how to accept myself and embrace being different.
What is on your creative bucket list?
I want to make a vignette style book(s) about my familia's stories, told in a less traumatic version of the truth. And since everyone's version is different, it won't be a biography. I also want to write more children's books about emotions and experiences that are relatable (and slightly humorous).
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