We had been looking at portfolios of illustrators work and as soon as I saw Inbal's I thought 'That's it'. It was love at first sight. Later, when I saw her first illustrations, I knew we had found the right illustrator for the job. I was curious about how Inbal went about illustrating the book. This is what she told me.
Inbal: When I read the text of French Toast Sundays I connected to it instantly.The text was so sensitive and beautiful. Stories that touch on the subject of parting from loved one in such a gentle manner are so lacking. I need to love a story, in order to illustrate it well.
I was asked to start with Mina's character. Amanda, the book's editorasked for Mina to look realistic. I drew a preliminary sketch. Amanda liked it and I began to paint. After a few corrections she approved Mina and I moved on to the other characters. But although Amanda had approved the other characters too, I still felt that they was not quite right. I just couldn't imagine them in the book.Amanda and I had a good relationship and I shared my feelings with her. She gave me the confidence to change the characters. I started drawing the new Mina, and she just flowed.The new Mina is sitting on a boat and dipping her finger in the water. Grandma's dog is sitting next to her. I sent it to Amanda and hoped she would like the character as much as I did.She did. The New Mina was approved.
The next stage was to start the rough sketches. Because I never studied illustration formally, there are standard processes I'm not used to. For example, I was asked to illustrate all the pages and double spreads on a small scale, before starting the full size illustrations.This didn't suit my creative process. I prefer to work on each page separately. I find that when I work this way, inspiration flows. Sometimes I come up with an illustration in my dreams. I would wake up and write down the idea so I could use it in the morning. For example, the illustrations show a bird accompanying Mina, throughout the difficult week of the shiva. By the end of the shiva Mina is feeling better and smiling again, so we see the bird returns to the sky.The idea for the bird, came to me in a dream. The following morning, I researched birds and found that in Judaism birds are the link between the heavens and earth. They connect the upper and lower worlds.
I'm very happy with the final result.The book's success lies in the wonderful text and the close link between the editor and myself. She believed in me from the start and didn't not care that I was self-taught. I'm happy I was allowed to illustrate in my own unconventional way.