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Aurélia Maillard Despont

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International book fairs are meeting points for both book lovers and professional experts. Recent publications are presented, symposia and other literary events held and licences negotiated. Swiss publishers are also there to showcase their products, which makes book fairs an important platform for Switzerland’s cultural presence abroad, for the promotion of Swiss books and for cultural exchange in general.

Pro Helvetia fosters the Swiss booths jointly run by the country’s three booksellers and publishers associations at the nine most important international book fairs by means of a support agreement – Frankfurt, Leipzig, Vienna, Bologna, Paris, Brussels, Montreal, Turin and Rome. Starting 2016, Pro Helvetia also provides support to a variety of other activities promoting Swiss books, including further book fairs, book-related events at national and international festivals and cooperation projects between practitioners from Switzerland and abroad.

Book fairsBologna, Brussels, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Montreal, Paris, Rome, Turin, Vienna
PartnerSchweizer Buchhändler- und Verlegerverband (SBVV); Association Suisse des Diffuseurs, Editeurs et Libraires (ASDEL); Società Editori Svizzera Italiana (SESI)

From Illustration to Book

Further details on Switzerland’s activities as guest of honour in Bologna

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Delving into the Colourful World of Children’s Books

Switzerland is the guest of honour at the 2019 Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the most important trade event for children’s, youth and picture books worldwide. In the run-up to the event, Pro Helvetia took a look into the studios of Swiss book illustrators. The resulting video series captures images and documents statements by artists from all parts of the country on what inspires them, on their manner of working and, in particular, on what they expect from Bologna as a career booster.


Illustrator Pia Valär

Pia Valär from the canton of Grisons has a preference for drawing figures with long legs. Pro Helvetia visited her at her studio in Zurich and learnt why this is so.

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Pia Valär was born in the Engadine in 1983. She studied illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art and has worked since then as a freelance illustrator. In her drawings she is interested in possible and impossible stories from daily life and in the characters who have to—or are privileged to—live through them. In 2015 she was awarded the “Förderpreis of Canton Graubünden”.


Illustrator Duo It’s Raining Elephants

What does it take to create a children’s book besides a fair amount of creativity and a feel for the fantasy worlds of children? The duo It’s Raining Elephants from Lucerne (Nina Wehrle and Evelyne Laube) offers viewers of the video a glimpse of the day-to-day reality of illustrators working in Switzerland.

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It’s Raining Elephants is an illustrators’ studio in Lucerne. Since 2008 Evelyne Laube and Nina Wehrle have been developing their own projects as well as doing commissioned work. They create illustrations for picture books, live-visuals and other projects. They also run the ceramic brand hoi and teach narrative drawing at the Hochschule Luzern – Design & Kunst and at other institutions.


Illustrator Tom Tirabosco

Despite many years of experience as an illustrator and an Italian surname, Tom Tirabosco from Geneva has yet to publish a book in Italian. Will an opportunity for a translation into Italian arise at the children’s book fair in Bologna? Pro Helvetia put the question to him at his Geneva studio.

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Born in Rome in 1966, Tom Tirabosco attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, then the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels in Geneva. He worked as an illustrator and cartoonist and published with Casterman, Magnard, Atrabile, Delcourt and the Humanoïdes associés, among others. He owes his particular style to the monotype, a special engraving technique, enhancing each of its pastel prints in order to better reproduce the volumes. Along with the famous cartoonist Zep, Tirabosco is now opening a school of comics in Geneva.


Illustrator Francesca Sanna

Francesca Sanna lives in Switzerland but is originally from Sardinia. In the video profile shot by Pro Helvetia at her studio in Zurich, she reveals what it means for her to represent Switzerland, the guest of honour, at the book fair in her native Italy.

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Francesca Sanna was born in Sardinia in 1991. She studied illustration in Cagliari and earned her Master’s degree in illustration and design at the Hochschule Luzern. In the summer of 2014 she attended a course in Illustration and Visual Storytelling at the School of Visual Arts in New York. For her Master’s project she was awarded a gold medal by the New York Society of Illustrators in 2016 and was nominated for the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis and the Schweizer Kinder- und Jugendmedienpreis in 2017. She currently lives in Zurich.

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