- Gundega MuzikanteIllustrator–Latvia
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Gundega Muzikante is a Latvian artist, a much-loved book illustrator, and an active member of IBBY Latvia. She has been contributing to graphic art exhibitions and illustrating children's books for thirty years. She was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1964. She graduated from the Department of Ceramics of the Riga School of Applied Arts and the Department of Graphic Art of the Latvian Academy of Art, obtaining her master's degree in 2009. She made her debut as an exhibiting artist while still a student at the Latvian Academy of Art, showing at group exhibitions in Latvia, Germany, Finland, and Sweden. It was in 1990 that she won her first award—the Indri is Zeberi š Prize—as a children's book illustrator. Since then, Muzikante has been illustrating or designing at least one unique book every year. She has also worked for the children's periodicals, created the design of textbooks, and made a successful debut in animation.
Diversity of intentions and expressive styles are characteristic of Muzikante's imagination. She has always emphasised that, while the text is an important conceptual impulse behind the visual narrative, it is not interesting to depict things that have already been written. Muzikante has created illustrations to very diverse texts, from light and rhythmic poems to serious philosophical narratives.
The artist says that it is easier to work if the author has not provided specific visual descriptions. She says,
When dealing with the opposite, you start to feel a somewhat spiteful inclination to create a parody of the description—to make it more intense, to show the character from a different angle. I am even slightly scared of the writers' reaction: after all, everybody takes their own work very seriously. And yet I do not feel inclined to follow the descriptions to the letter in my pictures; really, those times have passed—the image does not follow the text as closely as in a children's reading primer.
Muzikante feels a text as a personality, and her mission and task is understanding it: "You have to delve deep into each of them, you have to make friends with each of them—and then carefully dress into the kind of clothes that will fit this 'being' best." Sometimes this dressing of a text develops into an exciting carnival where anything goes.
Gundega Muzikante has been regularly nominated and has frequently won awards at the national and international book art competitions. In 2014, the Annual Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks International Prize in Children's Literature and Book Art went to her. A Book for Gundega (Grāmata Gundegai, 2015) by author Pēters Brūveris, featuring Muzikante's illustrations, was included in the IBBY Honour List 2016. [End Page 56]