Striking Yet Simple Illustrations for Kids by Réka Király

Réka Király’s work doesn’t rely on very much embellishment, she has an amazing skill to take the most elementary of shapes and put them together in a way that is vibrant and buzzing with life.

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In much of her striking children’s illustrations, the characters are pieced together with simple polygons. But the hand-cut, stirring way she creates marks fills them with expression and energy.

Réka tells about the tools she uses, the stages she goes through, and the publishing company she cofounded last year.

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In my professional life, I’m a picture book maker, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a writer, a paper shredder, and a co-funder of an independent children’s book publishing company that turns 1 in a few weeks. I was born in Budapest, Hungary and for 13 years now I have been living in Finland.

The main working tools that you can find on my table are black pens, pencils, paper and of course a computer. Time to time I grab a pair of scissors or cutter but hardly ever touch an eraser. I love drawing, probably would go nuts if it wasn’t possible.

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The work process starts with sketching. Whether it is a small or big project, a commission or a personal one, I create building blocks for it— love modularity.

My sketches are simple outline drawings and I try to keep them in my sketchbooks. I’m a hopeless organizer, liking things in their place and in boxes. It helps me to keep my mind free and open for new ideas.

For the final works, sometimes I add ink painted elements but mostly it is colored by computer. I hardly use surfaces and admire those who do that.

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For the past ten years, my main focus has been on children’s culture, and this made me look at visual content in a new way. Like how to find a solution to bring a heavy topic into children’s reach in an approachable way.

Children are open to discuss complex issues when it is presented in a clear way. Simple does not mean poor.

I like collaborating with other designers, professionals from various disciplines, illustrators and authors. For example, co-writing or co-illustrating is a challenging but extremely fun way to work on books.

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This is also how Etana (meaning snail in Finnish) Editions was born. With designer and author Jenni Erkintalo we established it in 2014. It is a curious mix of an independent children’s book publishing and a design studio.

Working with and for it takes up most of my time, next to publishing books by various authors we do graphic design work and hold workshops for kids.

Parallel to Etana Editions right now, I’m developing a new children’s book, and an illustration for MAKI minimag, a new kids magazine from Holland.

When I have free time, I spend it with my family and friends and walk on the seashore to get some fresh breeze.

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© Rika Kiraly, 2015

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