Carl Angel is a visual artist who does commercial illustration and children’s books illustration. He also creates paintings exploring personal themes.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Carl. What is your latest book about?
Carl Angel: The Girl Who Saved Yesterday is about a girl named Silence, who is sent by the trees to save Yesterday. She doesn’t know what her task is, only that it is important. Returning to the village that cast her out, Silence recognizes her purpose: to join the dead with the living in an act that celebrates their memory.
Ferrante: What did you use to illustrate it?
Angel: Acrylic and color pencil
Ferrante: Did you collaborate with the author?
Angel: I was not directed by the author in terms of how I should approach the imagery. I was able to do that myself based on how incredible the text was, but because the text was so rich, the challenge was to come up with imagery that added to that richness and create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
Ferrante: Are you self-trained or university trained?
Angel: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I did seek further instruction at a couple of art schools in northern California – California College of the Arts and Academy of Art University, respectively.
Ferrante: When did you first develop an interest in illustration?
Angel: Since I had read illustrated classic books and comic books as a child. I loved mythology and fantastic imagery (still do). I actually used to draw on the walls of our house when I was three years old before my dad would bring home some paper from his office for me to draw on.
Ferrante: Who is your favourite illustrator?
Angel: That’s a hard one, because I have many, and I like seeing how the style of the illustrator relates to the era in which the work was created. However, if I were forced to be trapped on a desert island with only one illustrator’s work, it would have to the work of Howard Pyle.
Ferrante: If you could go anywhere in the world to practise your art, where would you go and why?
Angel: Italy, just for the sheer artistic brilliance of both aesthetic and spiritual inspiration. Food’s not bad either.
Ferrante: What is the most important thing you have learned about illustrating books?
Angel: That illustrated books are needed more than ever. While I love video and am a total cinephile, a powerful still image that is well crafted deserves to be visually savored and appreciated. It’s why museums are built; to reflect and meditate on something beautiful.
Ferrante: What advice do you have for other illustrators?
Angel: Love what you do and realize that visual narrative is a huge part of culture, and that you are part of something important.
Ferrante: What is something you really enjoy doing that is a chore or a bore for many people?
I actually enjoy cooking and cleaning, especially while listening to music. I find it meditative and since I’m working mostly at home, I like that environment to be as organized as possible. Doesn’t always work out that way, of course…
Ferrante: If you could design any new ride or attraction for Walt Disney World, what would it be?
I would probably design a virtual reality experience that would put you through the life experience of an inspirational historical figure.
Ferrante: What is one item you own that has virtually no monetary value but has such sentimental value that you would not sell it for anything?
I have a dog-eared copy of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces that reminds me of what I strive for in terms of my ambition as a storyteller.
Ferrante: Thank you, Angel, and thank you also for lengthening your answers at my request. You’re a man of few words but those words are profound. I think you also tend to speak through your amazing artwork. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.
Click on the cover to buy Howard Pyle His Life His Work
The Girl Who Saved Yesterday will be reviewed on this blog on March 27, 2017.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.