A Visit with Illustrator Ana Juan

h1 February 17th, 2015 by jules

I’m happy to have here at 7-Imp this morning some new artwork from Spanish illustrator Ana Juan, one of my favorites. Ana is the illustrator of Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series, as well as picture books and, here in the States, many New Yorker covers. The fourth book in the Fairyland series, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, will be on shelves in early March. Pictured here today are the illustrations from the book. (Under each illustration is the name of the chapter from which it comes.) Just above is the illustration from one of the book’s final chapters, “The Spinster and the King of Fairyland.”

I also asked Ana about these books and her work, including her January New Yorker cover in response to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Here she is below, in her own words.

I thank her for visiting.

[There’s more Fairyland art in this 2011 7-Imp post, as well as a Q&A with Valente.]


On Illustrating the Fairyland Books …

First of all, I am one of the luckiest readers who gets to read and enjoy the manuscripts long before publication. The unlimited richness of the language of Cat Valente makes reading this fantasy series mysterious and very personal. I love the sane and politically incorrect touch in her stories.

Sometimes, it is not easy to build the characters in my mind, because I have no reference. But this is a challenge that makes working on this series different than other fantasy books. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland is the fourth book, so I have worked with some of the characters’ faces, but there are continuously characters coming into the pages of the story. Every chapter is a surprise.


“Entrance, on a Panther”


“How to Send a Troll by Post”


“Troll to Boy, Boy to Troll”


On Knowing Which Moments to Illustrate …

I have no method. Simply, at the same time than I am reading the text, images come to my mind. I can choose images that will give a global idea of the story.


“The Wombat Prince of Chicago”


“The Adventures of Inspector Balloon”




On her Favorite Medium …

My favorite medium is one of the oldest in the world: coal pencil on paper. Nothing can be more sublime than to tell a lot with just one line.

I don’t like too much to work in color — I can express better in black and white. Drawing and sculpting are my fields, the places where I feel safe and well.


“The Monster on Top of the Bed”


“Please Be Wild and Wonderful”


“The Emerald Thermodynamical Hyper-Jungle Law”


On her January 19, 2015, New Yorker Cover, “Solidarité” …



In a really short time and inside a brainstorm, I thought of Paris and its icons — and about the basic drawing tool: a pencil. The pencil became the symbol of press freedom. Not as easy as adding a pencil to the Eiffel Tower …

The cover idea of “Solidarité” is fairly simple, and I’m pretty sure that another artist had the same idea. How does one image differ from the others? The voice and the language the author uses to convey his emotions.

This is not a conventional war, and every creator has a commitment to himself and to society. We have to work against intolerance with the weapons we have.


“The Painted Forest”


“An Audience with the King”


“The Crunching of the Crab”


On Picture Books in Spain …

Spain is a small market. On one hand, our lists are smaller and on the other hand, the illustrator is freer, having the chance to take risks and experiment with new things.


“Unhappy Feet”


“The Changeling Room”


“The Laundry Moose”


On What She’s Doing Now …

Since I wrote and illustrated my latest book for children, The Pet Shop Revolution, I haven’t worked on any children’s books.



Nowadays, I am only illustrating books for an older audience. In fact, the Fairyland series is my youngest audience and work.


“The Cranberry Bog”


“Jumping Bean Life by Wombat and Matchstick”


“Someone Comes to Town”


“The Boy Who Was Lost, The Girl Who Was Found”



* * * * * * *

THE BOY WHO LOST FAIRYLAND. Text copyright © 2015 by Catherynne M. Valente. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Ana Juan. Published by Feiwel and Friends, New York. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

7 comments to “A Visit with Illustrator Ana Juan”

  1. I’ve admired Ana’s work for a long time. Thanks for the fantastic insight. I will tweet away!

  2. I bought the first book in the Fairyland series just because I loved the cover illustration so much. I had no idea what it was about at the time, but now it’s one of my favorite books! Since then, I’ve always loved Ana’s work, and it was so fun and informative to read this post!:D

  3. I love The Ana Juan illustrations

  4. Great post! Thanks for asking about the New Yorker cover, Jules. I’ve been a fan of Ana Juan’s work since a librarian friend turned me on to The Night Eater years ago… It’s still one of my favorites. I hope there will be more Ana Juan picture books sometime in the future!

  5. A mi hija y a mi nos apasionan tus dibujos. Nos encantaría poder adquirir este nuevo libro con tus ilustraciones.
    Tenemos gran curiosidad por ver que ocurre en la historia.
    Un saludo desde Puçol.

  6. Wow! Such beautiful illustrations! Thanks for all the artwork and the great interview!

  7. […] appreciate to the same degree as another illustrator would. Brian Karas is a quiet genius. Ditto Ana Juan; Frida is a fantastic. I love Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, and Jon Klasssen’s stuff is gorgeous. […]

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