Anna Fiske is an illustrator, author and cartoonist from Sweden now living in Norway. Her latest book translated into English, How Do You Make a Baby? is a funny and factual resource about an eternally relevant topic.
She took over the Gecko Press Instagram account on Wednesday 8th July and here is a peek into her workroom, her artwork, her process – and lots of drawings of babies!
Hello, I’m Anna Fiske and I’m looking forward to taking over the Gecko Press Instagram for the day.
Welcome to my home in an apartment in a green building in Oslo, Norway.
We’ll walk through my small garden and down to the basement where I have my studio. I always look forward to sitting behind my desk and getting started—my assistant cat is also ready to get to work.
I feel a bit like my pen troll when the workday is about to start: smiling and prepared. This is where I kept my ink pens in my childhood, now my favourite pens. The eraser angel whispers that it is not dangerous to make mistakes, to get lost a bit, and the porcelain girl always supports me. It’s nice to have a cheering-on gang.
When I start with a book, the idea, the focus itself is complete. The drawings must be free and come straight from the head, the heart and on to the hand. I draw rough sketches quickly with a mechanical pencil—the nib is hard, grabs the paper. I drew my last books with a LAMY fountain pen. It has a lovely flow and a nice uneven line.
On a light table, I transfer the drawing slowly and carefully with my LAMY pen onto thicker paper, which sucks the line into the paper. I scan the drawing and colour it in with Illustrator.
Drawing requires my full focus. I am completely silent and fully in that world. I often do the colouring and designing in the afternoon with some music on, a cup of coffee and a biscuit.
I often get ideas when talking to children. Ideas about something I am also wondering or thinking about myself. In one drawing workshop there was a girl who told me how babies came out, and she explained that either a doctor cuts the baby out with a knife or otherwise you can give birth to the baby going to the toilet. It got me thinking about the picture she had of something she had been told. “This is a book!” I thought, with focused text and many pictures that explain simply and show what happens in words and pictures.
I have just released a book in Norway about starting school. I’ve thought a lot about this transition in life, starting school, and I wanted to make a book that prepares and explains, so this massive shift will be made smaller and easier to manage. I’m also working on a picture book about a tour of a museum, and a children’s nonfiction book.
This strange spring I have been missing the sea in Skåne, Sweden, where I grew up. We have a cottage there, an old family house. I have been drawing and writing poems about the sea.
To create a different mood, I draw and colour by hand. I like to challenge myself with different materials, different genres. In my spare time, I like to make things in other materials. I think of this as my creative gym.
Now I’m going to finish a picture book for grown-ups “Everything that Is New.” It’s about moving, about where security and strength can come from. It should be sent to print before the holidays.
I take vacation all summer, and I never work on books in the weekend (I just think about them). I think that creativity also needs breaks, where we do other things—being outside, reading, watching movies, meeting a friend, experiencing. When the urge to be creative comes during the holidays or at the weekend, I do something other than making books, like painting pictures, drawing something for drawing’s sake, painting sticks …
Thanks for reading and watching my world here today here, here are some flowers to you from me.
We loved sharing Anna’s day with you (especially meeting that stylish moose with its red spotted scarf!)
Follow @anna_fiske to see more of her books and illustrations.
How Do You Make a Baby? — a warm, frank and joyful non-fiction book for curious 4 to 7 year olds (or anyone really) is is available where all good books are sold and on our website.