ABOUT TANJA BAUERLE

  • After many years, I escaped
    from the corporate arena of design to pursue my love for children’s book
    illustration. I ventured out and started my own Illustration and Design
    business in 2003. Since then I have worked on many various illustration
    projects with my focus being children’s illustration.

    I have illustrated three
    picture books as well as the “Wright on Time” middle grade series.
     My books have won a variety of awards including the Bronze Medal for the
    2011 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the 2010 Arizona Book Awards and the
    2008 and 2010 Annual International Latino Book Awards.

    In addition to design and illustration projects varying from
    character studies, book illustrations, greeting cards and marketing collateral,
    I have also enjoyed working on numerous book jackets ranging from children’s
    titles to adult fiction and nonfiction. My love of storytelling drives me to
    continually refine my craft. Traditional mediums such as acrylics, acrylic
    gouache, water color as well as pen and ink are my favorite, often combining
    many of these into mixed media creations. However, I also love the freedom that
    digital tools, such as Photoshop, offer.

    Currently,
    I am developing my own stories. As story ideas escape from my pen and pencil, I’ve
    realized that many find root in my childhood. My culturally diverse background
    makes me a rather shuffled deck. I was born in Germany, just outside of Munich,
    with a passion for art and drawing.

    At
    age eleven my family moved to the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Not being
    able to speak English when we arrived, meant learning very quickly as I
    attended a regular English-speaking school. To this day I speak with a jumbled
    German Australian accent which many find difficult to place.

    Growing
    up in Australia was wonderful. I worked at a German Restaurant where I had to
    wear traditional dirndls that made my Bavarian roots happy. I was passionately
    in love with horses and so spent most of my free time with my horse, Calypso.
     The hours I spent riding by myself through the Australian bush are still
    some of my fondest childhood memories.  The Australian wildlife and
    environment hold a very special place in my heart and have found their way into
    several of the stories that I have written.

    When I was twenty I moved to the United States. I now live near
    Phoenix, Arizona, with my husband, Kevin, my daughters, Isabelle and Zoe.
    Having always been an animal lover, I share my home with my menagerie of three
    dogs, three cats, one foster horse, one alpaca, nine chickens and a
    tortoise. Life is good!

    I have been a member of the
    SCBWI for many years and am always working on improving my craft in both
    writing and illustrating by attending workshops and conferences. I am also the 
    Assistant Regional Advisor for
    the SCBWI Arizona region
    . I
    visit many schools where I aim to inspire kids to read, write and draw. Seeing
    the immense value in such visits lead me to create the Visiting Authors
    Committee at my children’s school. Since its formation I’ve been able to bring
    authors and illustrators to our school to wow the students. These have included
    Tony DiTerlizzi, Jennifer Nielsen, Kelly DePucchio, Mike Curato, Dav Pilkey and
    many more. Life is stupendous!

    In my free time, I love to go
    kayaking, hiking and camping with my family. We are self-confessed National
    Park Junkies and are always looking forward to our next adventure. Because
    drawing and reading are two of my main passions, there is always a sketchbook
    close by and a book at hand.

    Could life get any better? I am
    so lucky because I simply love what I do!

ARTIST STATEMENT

  • In order to understand the illustrator that I am today, follow me for just a moment back to my childhood in Germany.  This is truly where my love of drawing began, when I was old enough to hold a crayon.  While my dad and brother were sitting at the table solving math problems for fun (no, I’m not kidding) I could always be found drawing. Unfortunately, my German heritage was not necessarily conducive to a career in art. It was understood that kids draw, but grownups work. Drawing is just for kids, at least that was the sentiment that was echoed to my budding artistic wings.

    If ‘coloring’ was limited to childhood, then my flight would soon have to take a different path.  My journey of artistic discovery steered me to the world of graphic design. If drawing for a living was not to be, then perhaps I could find fulfillment in the arena of design and visual communication. Creativity is an integral part of this vocation, so I was somewhat content but there was always that proverbial hole that needed to be filled.

    When that hole became a huge chasm it was time to finally follow my inner voice and pursue that which I always envisioned myself to be; a children’s illustrator. 

    There is something about creating images that touches that inner something that can’t be explained and is often only understood by other artists. When I’m creating, painting, or drawing, I feel at home. Feeling the paint move under the brush and bringing the story to life has a euphoric effect. My medium of choice is Acrylic Gouache. It is such a versatile vehicle that any type of effect can be achieved. The transparency and sensitivity of watercolor, the luminance of oil, the dimensionality of collage, all can be realized using acrylic gouache and the various mediums, gels and additives that work with it.

    Looking at a blank sheet of paper is like a treasure hunt. The illustration is hiding; you simply need to uncover it. For the illustration to be truly successful it must be more than simply an image. It must convey the story, express emotion, transport the viewer, and make them identify with what is happening.

    Marrying the narrative image with the tactile art form is very exhilarating even though I tend to be somewhat restrained in the creation of the actual artwork. My goal is to completely free myself of this limitation and create dimensional pieces that rival Van Gogh whose surfaces are so seductive one simply wants to be absorbed into them. 

    Illustration, especially for picture books, needs to be enticing and draw the viewer in. I love that when kids experience a picture book, they read the illustration first. Illustrators have the opportunity to connect with their audience and provide an enticingly rich experience that goes so much further than mere words. Kids spot the tiniest of details in the artwork and this is tremendously motivating to me. I want to provide an interactive experience to my readers by enthralling them visually with multitudes of facts about the subject matter that I am illustrating. This is even more amplified in a wordless book because there are no words to fall back on. The art must stand on its own and convey story, emotion, setting, atmosphere, factual elements, and the list goes on.

    Each of the books that I have illustrated to date, included detailed research before I even begin the sketching process. Becoming familiar with the subject matter and looking for opportunities to engage the reader and provide additional knowledge is vital to my creative process. Kids are amazingly attuned to the visual and they discover and point out elements in the artwork that grown-ups usually miss. This is what I live for!