Gabriella klepatski

Illustrations “The New Late Works of Mozart” p 50 Annual 2

I started out as an architect, graduating from The University of Warsaw in Poland, which is my country of origin.

I came to New Zealand in 1985 and worked as architect for a few years.

In time however, my architectural presentation drawings became more and more populated by interesting and not entirely serious characters, and there was action not crucial to my “artist’s impression” architectural images. My bosses were not always impressed.

Clearly my passion has always been in drawing people and that’s why I decided to try my hand at illustrating, especially because books were my constant companions for as long as I can remember.

I’ve worked as an illustrator for most New Zealand publishing houses. I’ve contributed to literary creations of Margaret Mahy, Dorothy Butler, Melinda Szymanik, Diana Noonan and others.

Apart from illustrating, I also teach and occasionally take part in exhibitions.

In Poland, all those years ago, we grew up with chapter books rather than picture books. We loved the race through word-filled pages towards the next illustration, our imagination filling the blanks.

It’s hard for me to quote my favourite titles and authors from my teenage years, as in that part of the world our literature was based on European, Scandinavian and Russian culture and tradition. The illustrating craft was also different then, more conservative.

At the beginning of my illustrating journey here, I was mostly inspired by artists like Shirley Hughes, Quentin Blake, David Elliot and Robyn Belton. However, this list keeps growing and evolving all the time.  

There’s also David Small, Bill Peet, Philip and Erin Stead, Ron Brooks, Emily Gravett ... and many, many more amazing artists, whom I discover almost daily and from whom I try to learn.

If you’d like to see samples of my work, here’s my blog/website: pencilcase