- Charlotte PardiDenmark ★ Illustrator
“My point of departure is never color or composition; it is the expression.”Charlotte Pardi
Charlotte Pardi has been drawing since she was old enough to hold a crayon. Born in 1971, Pardi grew up drawing, usually on paper but also on the walls of her home in the small village of Spentrup in Jutland, Denmark. She completed her formal education at The Kolding School of Design, and her final project for her degree was published in the Danish weekend journal, Weekendavisen. Pardi continues to illustrate for adults, but her work as a children’s illustrator took off in 2000 with Rend mig I agterstavnen [Screw that Ship]. With over forty books to her name, this prolific illustrator has tackled topics that are not always considered suitable for children.
Pardi works primarily in watercolor, acrylics and pencil, leaving the original outlines showing and creating depth by redrawing the main figures over the top of the paint. These outlines are also used to create subtle characterization. For instance, in For Sent! [Too Late!], the tardy father is depicted driving dangerously through the traffic, while speaking on his mobile phone. The paint cannot keep up with father as he zooms past the other vehicles. In the final scene where father, mother and son play together, the paintwork solidly fills the father’s shape, suggesting the permanence of the father in his son’s life, which is overtly stated in the text.
Pardi is not afraid to tackle difficult topics, and with her focus on the emotional depth of the characters, she is well equipped to illustrate books on the topic of, for instance, death. In Græd Blot Hjerte [Cry Heart Cry], Death comes to take grandmother but the children try to trick him into giving her more time by plying him with coffee. Eventually the time comes for Grandma to die, but before Death goes upstairs to take her he tells the children a story explaining why people have to die. This somber, serious picture book acknowledges the children’s pain, and does not trivialize the emotions they feel. Equally, the series of books about the orphan, Frøken Ignora [Miss Ignora], depicts the character’s grief and other difficult emotions such as loneliness, but also her upbeat liveliness and optimism.
Many of the books Pardi has illustrated have been translated into Russian, and several are available in Swedish, German, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. She enjoys the diversity of drawing for newspapers and for picture books, but if she had to choose “the kids would win out in the end.”