Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Ioana Hobai


© Ioana Hobai

Mar. 13, 2020

We are excited to feature author-illustrator Ioana Hobai and her newest picture book, A WHALE OF A MISTAKE (Page Street Kids), out March 17. Enter to win a copy!




Tell us about yourself and how you came to write and illustrate for children.

I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. I remember drawing with my sister, making up cartoony characters at school and giving them to my friends, doodling on books (the horror!) and ripping up unused pages from my school notebooks when I needed extra paper. 

© Ioana Hobai

I started illustrating fairy tales for my own pleasure, in the early 90s. Much later, after my children were born, I started reading more picture books. I realized I wanted to learn more and I enrolled in a continuing education course at MassArt, where I was inspired to challenge myself and write as well. 

Congrats on your new picture book, A WHALE OF A MISTAKE.  Tell us about it and what inspired you?

It’s a personal story that began as a meditation I wrote for myself a few years ago, when I was going through a very difficult time. One evening I painted a whale swimming out to sea under a starry sky, and I realized that I could turn that story into a picture book.

The main challenge was to match the metaphors layered in the text with illustrations varied enough to engage young children. It took several trials to get the colors just right for each spread—or so I thought. I remember finishing the art for half of the book, looking at it, and suddenly realizing that the color scheme was not working at all! It was really painful to start all over; on the other hand, it made me laugh because there I was, having chosen totally wrong colors for a book about a big mistake. 

© Ioana Hobai


It’s a simple story about how we gain perspective and learn to move on from past mistakes. My goal was to invite all readers, to take a quiet moment, give themselves space and perhaps, be inspired to write or draw their own stories. We all have the capacity to heal when we are creating art.

 Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

It was more of an in-between but now I feel that the road is winding again. Maybe that’s the challenge of publishing: to keep you on your toes and not let you get comfortable and push you to produce your best work yet.

© Ioana Hobai


What projects are you working on now?

I am currently polishing a more humorous story, quite different in tone from the Whale. My goal is to find an agent who can guide my career and help me move forward.

© Ioana Hobai


What advice would you give to aspiring picture book author-illustrators?

I consider myself still a novice but I believe in solid drawing skills and endless practice. There are illustrators out there who make it look deceptively easy, but those simple lines have years and years of practice behind them. The same applies to writing. Overall, it’s an immense amount of work. 

My main advice though, is to be kind to yourself and to your fellow authors. The friendships, the sense of community and the support you’ll find in each other will help you weather the ups and downs of this industry.

© Ioana Hobai


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I get terribly nervous whenever I am drawing in a new sketchbook. Actually, I am not good at all at keeping sketchbooks. Many of my drawings are done on random pieces of paper because there’s no pressure, no fear of ruining a good page.  



Where can people find you online?
I’m on Twitter at @ioanahobai
Instagram @ioana.hobai
www.ioanahobai.com


Ioana Hobai grew up in Bucharest, Romania, where she trained as an architect. After working for several years in various architecture offices, both in the UK and the US, she decided to pursue children’s illustration. She made her debut as an illustrator in 2018, with BEFORE YOUR SLEEP by Annie Cronin Romano. She debuted as author-illustrator in 2019, with LENA'S SLIPPERS, a story inspired by her childhood during communism. A WHALE OF A MISTAKE is her second book as an author-illustrator.


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24 comments:

  1. I love these illustrations! The soft tones are very calming. I am always looking for good social emotional books to help my toddler navigate the world. This looks like a good one!

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  2. I have a similar problem with notebooks and writing. Scraps of paper are the best.

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  3. I am such a fan of your beautiful work, and this book sounds like one I (let alone children!) need! Congratulations, Ioana.

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  4. Thanks for the chance!!

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  5. Love your glorious artwork! Hope to see more in future books...and you are so right: it IS "an immense amount of work."

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  6. I love the message of you beautiful book. Thanks for the reminder that all art takes years of practice. Your art is gorgeous.

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  7. I love the idea for your next book, too. Kids need to know about silly and serious situations!

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  8. I love your pictures, and would love to read this book.

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  9. I love that beautiful illustration of the mouse!!

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  10. The illustrations are truly amazing. It sounds like a wonderful book. btjfarnham@Yahoo.com

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  11. Oh, I adore that illustration of Venezia! And that book cover -- how gorgeous!!!

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  12. These illustrations are stunning. I would like to hang them on my wall! What a beautiful theme.

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  13. Gorgeous work, Ioana! Keep sharing your talent!

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  14. The detail in those paintings is remarkable. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy.

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  15. Beautiful work! Look forward to reading your book.

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  16. I love how your cover blends beauty and humor!

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  17. I adore your illustrations, Ioana! Beautiful!

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  18. These illustrations are gorgeous! I featured Lena's Slippers on my blog last October (part of a Perfect Pairing of picture books about dance), and can't wait to read your latest, Ioana.

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  19. Love your illustrations! So colorful and full of movement and emotion. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  20. Such beautiful work! So very talented! Keep doing what your doing because you do it so well!

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  21. I relly like the pen and ink style of drawings here.

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