“Reading a book is like looking through a window!”― is a famous saying from the Author / Illustrator Zetta Hupf. This holds true when the books come with illustrations that match the story told by the author. It takes more than being an artist on paper to be an illustrator as it needs to have your imagination running along with the ones of the writer you work with. Ms. Jawaher Al Absi, is the new illustration talent in Bahrain who is on her path to create a unique series of characters especially for children. She has been relentlessly chugging away at her craft for the last few years to create Little Khalifa, the hero of the Ana Khalifa series, which would match the story carried by the book. When Bahrain This Week met Jawaher at the book release event of Ana Khalifa at Moda Mall, she was busy signing copies with the author Sh. Latifa AlKhalifa for her little fans. Excerpts from the interview we had with her are as follows:

What are the 3 words that best describe your work?

Simple, Creative yet Relevant.

How did you get into illustration?

Drawing had been my hobby since childhood. Later I studied graphic design on a professional ground from the Royal University for Women which further refined my talent.

What is your favorite type of illustration style, conceptual or decorative? Why?

Decorative, it’s one of the best ways to express beautiful ideas and thoughts by using effective but simple images and words, I think it’s very useful on different levels more than we can imagine.

Can we have a note on your first illustration job?

My first illustration job was actually my final project during my studies, which was a children story book called “Mishmisha”.   And that is the project that led me to collaborate with my friend Sh. Latifa Alkhalifa to do her new series, Ana Khalifa.

Who are your favorite illustrators and why?

One of my favorite illustrators is Eric Carle.  He’s most famous for his work, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. His art work is created using the collage technique and thats what I love about his work.

What helps you to be more creative?

Definitely learning from the art other illustrators helps me to be creative. But what inspires me the most is appreciating life itself.

What is the current illustration trend followed in Bahrain and Gulf as whole? 

It seems that the prevailing trend is a combination between what is traditional and what is modern. I believe it’s our way to adopt without losing our heritage.

Studying Illustration in college or self made. Which one would you choose? 

I think both are important and go hand in hand. Otherwise, you would be limited to what you were taught or limited to what you self-learnt.

When do you think images are better than words? 

When language becomes a barrier (images are universal) But also when you need to express your ideas or feelings more directly – images show the meaning more directly than words.

What is the next work in progress from your desk?   

I am planning to do the second story of Ana Khalifa children book series which is written by my friend Sh. Latifa Alkhalifa but illustrated by myself.

“When language becomes a barrier (images are universal) But also when you need to express your ideas or feelings more directly – images show the meaning more directly than words”.