Luciana Navarro Powell kindly took the time to answer some questions we had for her! Read below now for a glimpse into the illustration process that brought Babies Come From Airports to life. You can find the second half of our interview here!
How did you go about developing illustrations for Babies Come From Airports? Did any part of the process surprise you?
Luciana Navarro Powell: For Babies I thought that the characters needed to have very expressive facial features to communicate the subtle humor from Erin’s manuscript. There is a funny banter between Dad, Nico and Adar at the beginning of the book, where they tease each other while at the same time explaining -- in a fun way -- some of the aspects of international adoption. For example, traveling to go get the baby and the paperwork process that precedes that. I love how Erin so brilliantly presents these details in a way that is fun, playful, and perfectly integrated into the plot. At the airport there is also humor in the form of all the confusion between "Airport Lady" -- that I tried to portray as comic relief, being overly dramatic -- "Security", and -- masterful and subtle again in Erin's manuscript -- the confusion created by the looks of this multi-racial family.
What was your favorite part about illustrating Babies Come From Airports? What did you find most challenging?
LNP: In this book they were the same -- my favorite and at the same time most challenging part was illustrating the "before Airport" section. I had to show in the art everything that preceded the trip to the airport - a brief history of Adar's arrival, Mom going to China, the boys and Dad going on with their lives while waiting for Mom and new baby -- all in the form of conversation, photo albums, the drawings that the boys did, getting ready and riding to the airport. It was challenging but fun to figure that out -- and ultimately it's what makes the picture book such a fascinating format: the art helps to show layers of story that are not in the text. Another favorite -- illustrating the end papers and using them as extra pages that tell the "before" and "after"!
LNP: I say my antennae is always on -- and I believe that is the case with every artist. Everything I look at helps me to inform and enrich the way I make art, and not always in a conscious way -- shapes of the landscape, the changing lights with the movement of the sun, textures. Different illustrators, fine artists, photography. Lately for me it has been color palettes -- sometimes that will be my starting point. For Babies in particular I went for a warm color scheme for the home and family scenes, to convey their love and warmth for each other. Then I used a cold palette for the airport -- which helped to make the main characters pop out against the crowds in the background.