Illustrating a children’s book seems to be one of the idyllic ways to exercise your creativity. But for Berlin-based Stefhany Lozano, while certainly “excited” to illustrate Marko Pogačar’s film The #1 Birdtailing Detective Agency, she also tells us that she was quite “nervous” too. In sum, the book follows a cat, Millica, who opens a detective agency that focuses on helping large birds in distress. Featuring very specific bird species – like albatrosses, cockatoos, flamingos and griffon vultures – Stefhany hadn’t even heard of some of the species she was supposed to draw. “I didn’t know if I was able to illustrate them in my style without losing the characteristics of the genre,” Stefhany shares, “and besides, I only had a month to illustrate the book!
And so, moving away from her typically anthropomorphic lens, Stefhany did a lot of research, spending many hours trying to figure out how best to modify her style to suit an array of animals. Stefhany was so dedicated to the task of character development that it quickly became her favorite part of the process. “It’s a lot of fun to create the face and aspects of a character that someone else imagined,” says the illustrator, “there’s something really magical about it.” Looking at the latest book with its distinctive colorful birds and cats, it’s striking how Stefhany has translated her style – defined by her abstract use of shapes – to a subject so different from what she usually deals with. “It’s always an incredible feeling to see that you are able to successfully overcome a challenge”, adds Stefhany.
Stefhany was enlisted in the project after being approached by Nina Bacum and Roberta Bratovic, two of the six women behind the Croatian design studio Oaza, who launched a publishing house a few years ago, one for the adult literature and one for children. “When they asked me if I wanted to work with them, I said yes immediately because I saw the love and care they put into their books, which always turn out amazing.” Being an ‘avid reader’, working with books and doing your part to keep print culture going is very important to Stefhany. “I collect all kinds of books, so I totally understand the feeling of having a new book in your hands and seeing all the detail that only you can get from putting it on paper,” says Stefhany, “and more love you see was put into it, the more valuable it becomes. She would be lying, she shares, if she said she never considered buying a Kindle for pure functionality, but “people who know me well know that I will always choose beauty over practicality”.