Petra (illustration agent): Hi Bessa. Tell us about your latest favourite project.

Bessa (illustrator): Let’s go back in time to year 2019, when our lives were still normal. I was invited to participate on the two weeks art residency organised by Nástupište 1-12 to collaborate on an independent publisher project.

I was very impressed with the brief to help illustrate a book co-created by children – the story of Little Buddha.

Story of Little Budha

Petra: It is the story about the boy, who had been chosen to become Budha, when he was about 8 years old, right?

Bessa: Yes, exactly. But the concept for our book was to tell the story via the eyes of a child. Buddha-to-be was just another little boy, the same as other kids, who liked to go to school. He was very curious and confused in the same time, because he didn’t know what to study.
He takes little readers on a journey, where he asks his friends what they’d like to study and what is so fantastic about school and education.

Visualization

Petra: How did you you visualise him?

Bessa: We wanted to avoid a typical appearance of Buddha; the big guy sitting and meditating. We wanted to let kids run their own imagination.
How could have this Buddha look like when he was our age? Was he tall or short? Tiny or fat?  Short hair, or long hair?
I came up with an idea to not show Buddha at all. Reader can’t see the face.

We can only see hands, creating the sculpture or doing experiments in a lab. I tried to involve children into the story on every illustration.
Book covers five school subjects: Art, Math, Science, Animals and Plants (on pic. 3). Would you like to find out, which subject is Little Budha’s favourite?

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Process

Petra: That sounds amazing. How did you cope with last year? Were you able to finish Little Buddha project?

Bessa: I prepared storyboard and started working on illustrations, but then Covid hit us. Collaboration stopped, all processes slowed down. After a while we realised it’s been almost one year. Kids were still out of school. They could not study as usual and they could not go out or go to the library.

Many things have changed in our lives, sometimes to extent, that continuation seemed pointless.
We were lucky we had awesome publisher, who suddenly came up with an idea to rewrite pieces of the story to reflect current situation.
I loved the idea. I loved it’s time capturing element. Little Buddha, young boy, homeschooling in the midst of pandemics. Somehow, whole project felt just right, exactly fitting to the mood of Covid times, offering what people needed: a spark of hope, a vision of return to normalcy, where kids go to school and make experiments.

I hope Covid madness will stop at some point. But thanks to this project, we will still have cute story of Little Buddha, a boy who survived pandemic lock-downs.

Bessa is illustrator and artist, recognisable by style with tiny strokes, creating exaggerative characters connected in dynamic compositions full of movement with humour and lightly satiric tone.
Bessa is also member of Minty Art Collective, minting first, rare artworks in collection in form of NFT’s (non-fungible tokens.)

Represented by OWL AGENCY.

Exhibitions: Lustr Festival of Illustration Prague, 2018; Lustr Festival of Illustration Prague, 2019; No planet no fun, Barcelona, 2019; Awards: World lllustration Award 2020, Shortlisted Artist; Three x three Illustration Awards 2020, Merit; Memberships: ASIL, Slovak Illustrators Association

Send Bessa a Brief

"Hi, I'm Petra, an illustration agent. If you feel like, you can get in touch with me to consult your illustration project."

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+421 949 774 225

Thanks for your attention. And don’t forget to come to Owl Agency or Minty to create your illustrations.