Introducing Sonja Stangl: Illustrator of Sprig the Rescue Pig
Presenting Sonja Stangl, the spectacular illustrator for Sprig the Rescue Pig! We're thrilled to welcome her to the team and love seeing Sprig grow with each new sketch she produces. You can join in and watch Sprig come to life yourself, sketch by sketch, if you sign up to get our Good Food News. Sign up for Sprig the Rescue Pig's mailing list and you not only find out the release date but get 20% off the cover price. Want to know more about the woman who's bringing Sprig the Pig to life? Here's a Q&A with Sonja.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and grew up near Salzburg, Austria. My creative career began by attending a media design school at a very early age, continued by studying multimedia art where I got my BA in Arts & Design. After some time abroad for creative exchanges in Ireland and Argentina I went to Vienna to fully focus on my career in Illustration and have been independently working for more than 5 years now. In this time I got the chance to grow my skills and illustrate interesting projects for children and adults alike.
How did you first get started illustrating?
Well, I have always been illustrating in a way, even though I didn’t call it that yet. I have been filling all my school books with little doodles and crafting presents and greeting cards for family and friends. It was some time in college when I really started to think about illustration as a career. Combining my passion for drawing, with my passion for telling stories felt so much more appealing and fitting than anything else I could imagine at that time.
"...to tell someone's story in pictures."
To improve my skills in visual expression I started to keep a graphic diary. My goal was to express a feeling or an idea and to come to terms with my day-to-day-life. Mind you, I was quite young at that point so there was a lot of emotion going on inside me, while I was trying to figure out the world and people around me. I hardly ever showed the pictures to anyone so I could draw without feeling the need to be perfect. No thoughts lost about techniques or “the right way” to draw something. I just wanted to pin down the way I was feeling into one little sketch. And now I get hired for projects with precisely that goal: to evoke feeling. To make illustrations everyone can relate to emotionally. To tell someone's story in pictures.
"Getting to know the character... it doesn’t really feel like I am making things up, but more like it is already there somewhere waiting for me to bring it out and make it live on the page."
What do you most like about it?
Oh, there is so many things I love about illustration, I can’t really say what I like most. Every stage has it’s really wonderful moments. At first there is just this blank page, a void to fill, and I start to research the story or the topic. I learn a lot of other things this ways as well and I love to fall into a new area I can explore.
Like with Sprig - I'm learning a lot about pigs and how they live. It’s exactly that: getting to know the character. It doesn’t really feel like I am making things up, but more like it is already there somewhere waiting for me to bring it out and make it live on the page. I am following cues and ideas trying to find the perfect fit for the story.
And suddenly there is something alive on my page. Someone I'm very close to. This is very fulfilling, the whole process of it, including the struggles.
What about this book project drew you?
Sprig drew me because it shows that in a lot of ways we are treating animals not the way they deserve it. Animals need to be respected and considered worthy. They feel and know much more than some of us think. Pigs are actually very clever. I like showing through this book that a pig is about so much more than bacon.
"Pigs are actually very clever. I like showing through this book that a pig is about so much more than bacon."
And on a very different note this project also drew me because it’s very interesting to draw. Exploring pigs and how they move through drawings, getting to know his friend Rory and the adventures they have together - it’s just a very nice story!
Why do you think this project is important?
"I don’t think everyone needs to be vegetarian, but I think it would be good for the world if more people just stopped for a moment to think about what goes into making that meal."
Food awareness is a big topic and I think it would be good to know what you eat, where it comes from, and what goes into producing it. I mean, we are putting stuff into our bodies without the slightest idea of what it is. That doesn’t really sound very clever, doesn’t it?
Growing up in the countryside, I knew how the food on my plate got there, from small and friendly farms around our home. I don’t think everyone needs to be vegetarian, but I think it would be good for the world if more people just stopped for a moment to think about what goes into making that meal. Sprig makes you think about it.
What’s inspiring your design for Sprig?
I draw my inspiration from everyday moments and situations. And of course as soon as I start a new project, selective perception kicks in and I see and find so many things fitting the topic. Since I started on Sprig I am constantly finding things around me that remind me of the story or Sprig and can inspire some new ideas and directions to go with the illustrations.
Who do you hope to reach with these Sprig illustrations?