To draw you must close your eyes and sing” – Pablo Picasso

“The story of a tiny, tiny little girl”… This is Thumbelina’s story, the iconic classic tale written in 2835 by Hans Christian Andersen, and that our admirer Nuri Ann has just beautifully adapted.   Have you read this tale?

Thumbelina has just been edited this spring (in Spanish by Beascoa), and this classic story has been revived thanks to Nuri Ann’s original, vivid and dramatic illustrations. No doubt, she is considered one of the most relevant digital illustrators and painters. 

Nuri Ann’s artistic adaptation respects the classic essence of the original version by Andersen (“Thumbelina” as a delicate and innocent creature). Still, she turns this story into a song longing for one’s personal identity search. Nuri Ann places woman as the absolute protagonist, defending her right to choose and showing her vital process as she overcomes many obstacles.   

“Thumbelina” is also an ode to artistic freedom and reflects the creative process of an artist looking for his own identity and place in the world. In my opinion, Nuri Ann’s dedication “À Moi-même” (To myself) portrays the metaphor of the personal search process of this great Spanish illustrator. 

Please join me in this conversation with Nuri Ann. I am really grateful that she has taken the time to share with World Kids her creative world. I would also like to thank photographer Harold Abellán, for providing World Kids with the amazing photographs included in this post.  

1. When did you first know you wanted to be an illustrator?

At university. Although I have always known that I wanted to communicate through art and spend my life drawing and painting (in my world of unicorns and candy floss I could see it all so clearly!), it wasn’t until the last year of my fine arts degree, when you at least have one foot in the real world, that I got down to working out how to make a living from it. That’s when I decided to specialize in illustration.

2. Where do you find your inspiration in your daily life?

In a song, a book, TV series, films… but most of all, in small details: the smile of a stranger or the girl’s hair in front of me in the supermarket queue. The most important thing is to note down every idea, however absurd it seems, put it to one side, and, with time, some turn into real projects. 

3. I am a great admirer of the “Peculiar Girls” project. What gave you the idea of telling the story of these female characters inspired by human emotions?

This project started as something I needed to do for myself. When I was working on commissions, there was a period that left little room for creativity, and I felt something was missing. So I started painting these characters to show my more private and personal side. They were a way to escape, and they still are: when I have a bit of free time, I like to go back to them.

4. Is there a major author or particular illustrator who has influenced your development?

I think there was a before and after my discovery of the Pop Surrealism movement. I became fascinated by the work of artists like Marion Peck, Stephen Mackey, and Ray Caesar. They paint disturbing scenes and moments frozen in time that draw you in. Little by little, that world filtered through into my work, which had been more childish and naive until then.

5. What is your favourite childhood memory?

The moment when I was given the comic that came with the Sunday newspaper supplements. They contained short stories that ended “To be continued,” and you had to wait anxiously all week for the next edition to find out what happened to Conan, Captain Thunder or Spiderman. It was like the Three Kings coming every Sunday!

6. Your favourite holiday?

I have fond memories of the cheapest trips I’ve taken when I was younger and had hardly any money. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but you can’t beat a tent by a lake under the stars with good friends.


7. What book are you reading right now?

I have a few pages to finish of Lolita” by Nabokov. Although I haven’t got to the end yet, it strikes me as a real horror story. The way the protagonist/narrator describes girls and women, in general, makes my hair stand on end. 

8. What three things would you take with you to a desert island?

Chocolate definitely, keep me in a good mood. Fire, I think, is also essential, plus I really feel the cold. And anti-mosquito spray, so I can sleep without mosquitoes buzzing around me all night. I can see myself now, sitting by the fire, with my bar of chocolate tucked under my arm, mosquito-free, enjoying the sea breeze. Simple pleasures.

¡Thank you very much Nuri! We are sure that “Thumbelina” will be a great success.

Related articles:

Denmark with Kids: The Tinderbox: Hans Christian Andersen’s Cultural Center for children.

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