Artist Spotlight: Laura Borio
Laura Borio was born in Turin, Italy, in 1986. The moment her parents put colored pencils in her hands, she decided to try them on the kitchen walls. And she hasn’t stopped drawing since. In 2008, Laura attended a comic book illustration course that changed her life, opened her mind, and propelled her down the career path of a children’s book illustrator. In addition to her beautiful and buoyant work illustrating the latest Hazy Dell Press picture book, Klyde the Kraken Wants a Friend, Laura is currently illustrating a forthcoming ghostly book series for Hazy Dell Press that will debut in 2024. Laura recently chatted with us about a range of topics, including her life-changing comic book course, designing a lovable “monster,” and the joys of illustrating upside-down pirates.
Did you always know you wanted to be a professional illustrator? Do you remember when you decided to make it your career?
I always knew I wanted to draw as a profession (at least since I discovered it could be done). I remember that as a child I watched the end credits of Disney animated movies with my mother and together we counted how many "Italian" names there were, hoping one day to be able to read mine, too. Life then led me to do other jobs, but in my heart I never abandoned the idea of becoming an illustrator.
What appeals to you the most about illustrating a book about a kraken, pirates, and sea creatures?
I had never illustrated a book before that told a story set at sea, with pirates, ships and sea creatures, and I immediately thought it was an excellent opportunity to make up for it! Klyde's character design phase was a fantastic challenge: having to create a marine "monster" that is nothing short of terrible in the collective imagination, but instead turns out to be a great cuddler!
Of all the beautiful, exciting spreads in the book, which was the most fun to develop and illustrate?
It’s very difficult to choose just one spread, because the story is so beautiful and hilarious that I would like to answer: "All of them!" Perhaps what I had the most fun making is the one in which Klyde realizes that his hug was a little too strong and that the pirates have all ended up soaking in the sea. I had a lot of fun finding the expressions of the various characters and drawing them upside down.
Your online bios often reference a 2008 comic book course that changed your life. Can you explain how that course opened your horizons to a new career?
When I started the comics class, I was a self-taught enthusiast who always worked in her comfort zone. I had learned to draw my characters a certain way, but as soon as I was asked to change them a bit, I couldn't and I froze. Thanks to Gigi Piras, the fantastic teacher of the course, I studied anatomy and perspective and learned how to make the characters act. This helped me step out of my box and opened up a world of possibilities.
Out of all the books that you’ve illustrated so far, what about Klyde the Kraken Wants a Friend makes you particularly proud?
I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to illustrate Klyde's story because it deals with very important issues with lightness and kindness, two values that are really important to me. Klyde's adventure makes us reflect on the fact that judging someone by their looks makes no sense, and also that if we love something, it doesn't mean that everyone else should like it. But with a little goodwill, we can still find the way to make things work.