Illustrator Christiane Krömer Takes Us Behind the Art of King For A Day

Just released last month, our newest picture book, King For a Day, takes readers on a colorful journey through the spring kite festival Basant. From a rooftop in Lahore, Pakistan, Malik is determined to take his kite Falcon out and win the most kite battles to earn the title of “King of Basant.”

Illustrator Christiane Krömer used paper and fabric collage to create the gorgeous illustrations you see below:

Christiane KrömerI always take photos of the many stages. That way I can see what a picture looked like earlier on, experiment with many choices and then maybe go back to an earlier option. The fun with collage is that you can always push all the paper pieces and fabrics around until they are in the right spot. But there is also a big danger that all the 1000 loose pieces go flying, so it’s a good idea to have a photo that tells you exactly how it was when it looked good. I always have real fun to look at all the stages once the illustrations are finished. I hope you do, too.

Facing the Bully art king for a day

king for a day facing the bully
Facing the Bully final spread

I was influenced by Pakistan’s vivid colors, patterns, and design in folk art, street life, dance, and festivals.

king for a day art - catching the bully's kite

king for a day art - catching the bully's kite
Catching the Bully’s Kite final spread

Visits to Brooklyn’s Pakistani neighborhood on Coney Island Avenue and to Jackson Heights, Queens, added color and spice to my imagination. The displays of Shalwar & Kameez sets in the show windows taught me a lot about how Pakistani cloths are worn and which color combinations Pakistani people prefer. (Turquoise + Fuchsia + Gold seemed to be a favorite- I chose it for the sister’s dress.)

Morning of Basant art King for a Day

The Badshahi Mosque, which was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1673 and resembles the Taj Mahal, is located in Lahore, where our story takes place, and it was an important center of Mughal culture. I tried to incorporate this in my illustrations, for instance in the use of Mughal style arches as a design element.

king for a day art - morning of basant
Morning of Basant, final spread

I went to buy the Indian and Pakistani fabric swatches I used in Manhattan’s garment district around West 39th Street. Many of the shop owners were from these regions, and when I told them what I needed the fabric for, they started to break out into smiles and tell me passionate stories about their own kite flying experiences. “It can become kind of an addiction,” said one. He even gave me a little discount.

To read more about her creative process, check out this interview she did with Rukhsana Khan, author of King For a Day.

Want to see more artwork in progress? Author/illustrator Andrea Cheng shows us how to make a woodblock print and illustrator Beth Lo shares how to paint a ceramic plate.

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