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Meet six top Slovenian illustrators

Slovenia is a country with a population of two million. Despite its small size, it has a very diverse and rich book market. Around 4,000 titles are published in Slovenia every year, 900 of which are children’s books. Such numbers place Slovenia among the world’s leaders in the number of books published per capita!

Slovenia has a long and healthy tradition of children’s and young adult literature. The first collection of children’s books in Slovene, "Čebelica" (Little Bee), was published over sixty years ago and is still being added to today. The classical school of Slovenian book illustration. which generations of children were brought up with, also proved to be a springboard for a new generation of bold, innovative, and recognisable illustrators.

The quality of Slovenian illustration is recognised all over the world.

Books embellished with images by Slovenian illustrators have been published in countries and languages around the globe, including Argentina, the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Austria, China, and more.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition

Slovenia has been chosen as the guest of honour country at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 2021.

Meet six top illustrators that have in recent years been included in the prestigious curated Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, chosen by experts from among thousands of illustrators from all over the world!

Ana Zavadlav (1974) graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, where she also completed her specialisa­tion in graphic design. In 1999 she attended a course at the graphics depart­ment of the Indiana University of Pennsylva­nia in the United States, and in 2002 spent some creative time at the Cité d’Art in Paris. Since 2003 she has been mostly devoting her time to illustrating books for children and young adults. She has received numerous domestic prizes for her work, including the Prešeren Award for Students (1993) and the University Prešeren Award (1994).

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Andreja Peklar (1962) is a Slovenian painter, illustrator and children’s book author. She is a freelance artist who mostly illustrates children’s books. Her illustrations have enlivened numerous picture books as well as schoolbooks and magazines for children and young adults. She has held a number of independent exhibitions of her illustrations, and also participates at various important internationally selected exhibitions of illustration abroad. Some of her books have been included in the White Ravens recommendations list prepared by the International Youth Library in Munich. She has received many awards and prizes for her work in both Slovenia and be­yond.

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Maja Kastelic (1981) is an illustrator and author of the award-winning picture book "Deček in Hiša" (A Boy and a House). She has received a range of prizes and awards for her work in illustration (The Hinko Smrekar Acknowledgment 2012, the Hinko Smrekar Plaquette 2014, the Levstik Award 2015, the Kristina Brenk Award 2015, the IBBY Honour List 2016). Her books were included in the White Ravens catalogue in Munich, as well. Her illustra­tions have been selected for quite a few ex­hibitions, and translations of her books have so far been published in Italy, Bel­gium, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexi­co, China, Bulgaria, South Korea, Spain, Canada, the US and the UK. Maja collaborates with some of the most prestigious publishers in Slovenia and abroad.

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Peter Škerl (1973) graduated in graphic de­sign and illustration, and has since created an extensive opus in illustration. With his flair for illustrating literary content he uses a variety of artis­tic techniques in different combinations to develop a unique form of artistic expression. Peter also co-created theatrical plays and puppet shows, at first as an amateur actor, later as a designer of artistic concepts. An illustrator for almost twenty-five years, he has received several awards, including, in 2012, Slove­nia’s most prestigious prize for illustration, the Hinko Smrekar Award, for his illustrations in the book "Močvirniki" (Marshlanders).

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Alenka Sottler (1958) start­ed off by informally training in drawing and sculpture at her father’s studio before going on to graduate in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. She has worked as a freelance illustrator for some of the best Slo­venian and foreign publishers and magazines, and illustrated over fifty books. Among other awards, she has received two recognitions of merit at the 3X3 International Illustration Show, the Prešer­en Fund Award, a nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, two nominations for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and was awarded a gold medal at the 2016 Annu­al Exhibition of the Society of Illustrators in New York, of which she is also a member. She lives and works in Ljubljana as a freelance illustrator.

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Lila Prap (1955) is an award-winning Slovenian writer and illustrator. After completing her studies in architecture in Ljubljana she worked for a while in architectural and urban planning, taught subjects related to architecture and civil engineering, and also as a graphic designer at Gorenje. She is now a free­lance artist and works in furnishing, decorat­ing, and graphic design, as a cartoonist, and as a writer and illustrator of books for children. Her picture books are extremely popular far be­yond Slovenia. An animated film was made in Japan based on her book "Zakaj?" (Why?), and the book itself was also included in school curricula in Germany, France and Australia. The recently published "Zmaji?!" (Dragons?!) is her seventeenth picture book.

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Author: Slovenian Book Agency

Date: 3. November 2019

Time to read: 5 min