Hector Curriel is our own editorial cartoonist, an artist of many talents whose works have a sense of heart and humor all-around.
While not cooking up illustrated interpretations of our lives, both in the political and natural with his fine art, he is also a teacher and a children’s book artist.
Recently we had the opportunity to talk to him about his newest works, two children’s novels that released in late 2020. A bit different than his political cartoon contributions to El Observador, we were curious to see how his talents translated within the world of book illustration.
In “Something About Christmas”, written by Tom Roberts and illustrated by Curriel, a young boy is sad that Christmas is over, and it is time to put the decorations away when his parents help him realize that Christmas continues to exist in the dawn of each new day.
With “Colt the Courageous”, the story is centered around an outgoing third-grader named Colt Davidson. He is also a child who has dyslexia.
The story is meant to encourage children with dyslexia, and their parents or guardians to have hope and compassion. It also serves as a tool for parents to talk to their dyslexic child.
The book’s font is even displayed in Dyslexie, a font designed to make reading easier for the dyslexic reader.
In the following interview, Curriel answers some of our questions on the creation of his latest illustrative works and how he goes about designing and envisioning his drawings.
Could you describe what each book is about?
“Something About Christmas” is a children’s book written by Tom Roberts and published by the Sioux Falls Children Home Society. The book addresses the theme of Christmas, from the point of view of a child, who sees with sadness and nostalgia the end of the holiday, but whose parents lovingly remind him that the true meaning of Christmas actually goes beyond weather.
My second book is titled, “Colt the Courageous” and it is written by Courtney Davidson. It tells the story of a boy named Colt, who suffers from dyslexia and who despite suffering from that condition, finds a way to get ahead, in the process of learning at school.
What are the messages in each one? Why would you say those messages are important?
In “Something About Christmas, the importance of his message lies in resuming the spiritual value that Christmas contains. The Birth of Jesus in the manger is the beginning of a relationship of love and reconciliation that God wants to establish with humanity and that has no end, but remains forever, and for this reason, at any time of the year, it will always be possible to celebrate Christmas.
The purpose of the message of “Colt the Courageous” is to help understand the dyslexia, not within its medical complexity, but in a more pragmatic and simple way and at the same time give a light of hope, to the learning problem, which with professional help, family support and a lot of effort, it is possible to overcome obstacles and become a “superhero”.
How do your latest books compare to what you have done in the past? Was there something that was challenging?
Starting a new book is always a challenge. I treat it in a personal way, while I develop and test new techniques. In these books, for example, the illustrations were done digitally, unlike my other books that were made by hand. In terms of styles, in “Something About Christmas” I tried to emulate the style of the great American illustrator Norman Rockwell, of whom I am a fervent admirer.
How did you figure out how to visualize the images in each story?
Knowing fully the history of the book and the motivations of the writer are very important aspects when creating the illustrations. We know that illustrations are not merely decorative, but on the contrary, to help the reader better understand the message of the story and fall in love with it.
Is there anything else you would like to add that we haven’t covered yet?
Just a thank you for this opportunity to share with your readers about my new projects and maybe be an inspiration for someone who wants to start a career as a book illustrator. For those who might be interested in acquiring a copy of the books, they can find them online at the following links:
Hector lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with his wife. View his work at hectorcurriel-artwork.com.