Olaf Hajek is the creator, with Annette Roeder, of the new children's picture book Olaf Hajek's Fantastic Fruits. His other books include Flower Power. He is an illustrator, painter, graphic designer, and author, and he's based in Berlin, Germany.
Q: What inspired you to create Fantastic Fruits, and how did you choose the fruits to include?
A: After my previous two books about medicinal plants and vegetables, it was a wish of mine to make another book about fruits. Especially because fruits are so wonderful to illustrate and, in their diversity and colorfulness, simply a wonderful subject.
In cooperation with the publisher, I made a selection of fruit varieties....naturally also a little dependent on the beauty of each variety.
Q: How did you research the various fruits you included, and did you learn anything especially surprising?
A: First, I looked for photos of the fruit varieties. The color and texture of each variety is so different and, of course, should be shown in the illustration. I went to the market to buy my sweet models and portrayed them in combination with whimsical stories.
Of course, I got to know a lot of surprising new facts, especially because of the great facts that Annette Roeder has collected.
Q: How did you create your artistic style?
A: I am very much inspired by Folk Art and a variety of artistic traditions—so my goal was to portray each fruit in a fascinating cultural context.
Q: What do you hope kids (and adults!) take away from the book?
A: I hope they enjoy the illustrations and get inspired by the stories I created.
I am sure you will learn many unusual and surprising facts about fruits. It would be nice to look at things that are commonplace for us again with new eyes and thus appreciate them more. This is true not only for children but also for adults.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: At the moment I'm doing the illustrations for the Christmas windows of Printemps, a big department store in Paris. So I already have Christmas in the summer.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I think illustrated books are such a wonderful source of inspiration and joy and knowledge. So I hope that physical books and bookstores will stay with us for a long time.
As a painter, the haptic and the feeling are the most important reasons for creating.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Olaf Hajek.