- Alenka SottlerSlovenia ★ Illustrator
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia in 1958, Alenka Sottler was raised in a family who were well-versed in the arts. Her mother worked for a leading newspaper and printing company and her father was a sculptor. It was in her father’s studio that Alenka first learned to draw and sculpt, cultivating a love of art that would take her through both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. Sottler began to work as a freelance painter and illustrator for top Slovene and foreign publishers and magazines in 1988, including the largest Slovene publisher, Mladinska knija. Since then, in addition to children’s magazines, she has illustrated more than 45 books, contributing especially to the genre of fairytales. She has received several accolades for her work, especially for her illustrations in Folk Tales from Around the World. Sottler’s other awards include the Hinko Smrekar Award at the Biennial of Slovenian Illustration, as well as awards from other countries such as Japan, Croatia, and Italy, as well as 5 certificates of Merit from the Annual Exhibition in New York, and the IBBY Honor list in 2008.
Trained by professors who had received their own art education in pre-war Europe, Sottler displays an awareness of the importance of the artist’s freedom of expression, and constantly experiments with her craft. Her work is reminiscent of the Late Gothic and Early Renaissance, but is executed in a contemporary style with elements of the modernist painting tradition. Her work often contains repetitive elements that form an additional narrative strand.
Alenka Sottler has faced the challenges of illustrating books of great fame and familiarity such as the Grimm’s fairy stories, and the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde by bringing to them her own perspective through intense dedication and immaculate work. She has also brought new life to work from the rich tradition of Slovenian literature, in works such as Oton Župančič and Grigor Vitez, proving that illustrations are just as relevant and important as ever before.