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Illustrator delights in whimsy

NANAIMO – Dianna Bonder becomes artist in residence for Edmonton library.
Gabriola artist Dianna Bonder is the illustrator in residence for the Stanley A. Milner Library in Edmonton this fall.

Gabriola illustrator Dianna Bonder creates whimsical creatures, animals and scenes to grace the pages of children’s books.

“I love vibrant, colourful artwork. I am inspired by a lot of great children’s literature,” said Bonder, adding she likes to incorporate puns, plays on words and likes to anthropomorphize animals in her illustrations.

Bonder was chosen ad the Joanne Fitzgerald Illustrator in Residence for 2016 for the Stanley A. Milner Library in Edmonton. She arrived Oct. 17 and will be in residence until Nov. 10.

“The exposure is really tremendous,” said Bonder about the opportunity. “It’s been tremendous networking a lot across Canada.”

Bonder said she’s applied for the residency for the past three years. The residency program was created in memory of an illustrator who died in 2011.

While in Edmonton, Bonder will lead workshops for adults, art activities for children, conduct presentations in high schools and colleges and review portfolios for other artists.

Bonder said she’s excited to do the residency and have the opportunity to potentially interact with thousands of kids and share her art form.

Bonder said she didn’t have the opportunity to talk with illustrators or artists in her school when she was growing up.

She said it’s important for children to realize that many of these illustrations are created by people and not just done on computers or by machines.

“For kids to see you creating something, creating these characters from the ground up is really exciting … for kids to see that there is a human being behind them,” she said.

Bonder has illustrated 14 books and is working on her 15th children’s book.

She has been drawing since childhood. Her mother was trying to pursue a career as a writer and created numerous stories, although none were published. Bonder would create the pictures for the stories.

“I had a style that wasn’t realism. It was kind of fun and silly,” said Bonder. “I am kind of a real watcher of natural things around me and I think that inspires me.”

Prior to becoming a children’s book illustrator Bonder was working as a graphic artist. She studied merchandizing and fashion design in Toronto and attended the University of Thompson Rivers to study fine arts and digital arts.

But she decided the commercial world of art wasn’t her forte.

“I kind of went back to my first love, which was children’s literature,” said Bonder.

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