Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This “Festival Focus” for 2019 is with Estonian artist Joonas Sildre. Currently living in Tallinn with his wife and four kids, he studied graphic design at the Estonian Academy of Arts (graduated 2004). Since then, he has been working as a freelance comic artist, illustrator and designer.
Sildre likes to experiment with different ways of telling stories in the comics medium. He's published two children’s comic books (in 2009 and 2016) and one graphic novel Kahe heli vahel (Between Two Sounds), released last year, a biography of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. He has also compiled anthologies and organised several comics exhibitions of Estonian contemporary comics.
Sildre has been teaching comics in art schools for about 10 years and sometimes gives workshops on the subject. In 2013 became co-founder of Estonian Comics Society.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Joonas Sildre: Let's say I am between projects right now. I just finished a huge book last year and I'm gathering ideas and energy for a new one plus doing some commissioned comics for a bank in Estonia.
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Joonas: Last year I finished a biographical book, Between Two Sounds, about Estonian modern classical composer Arvo Pärt. It took more than five years to make. I am very happy about the book, because I got to closely work with my favourite musician and artist.
It has not yet published any other language than Estonian. The first edition is available online from the Arvo Pårt web site.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Joonas: I try to do heavy thinking/planning/scripting before midday, about 10.00am until 1.00pm. After that, I usually do more technical work like inking, refining, etc. This can last until evening or sometimes even until night.
In the afternoon or in the evening, I usually write or reply letters that are not urgent.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Joonas: The possibility of working on the most interesting topic or story you can find.
And the worst?
Joonas: It's hard to plan your "free" time.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Joonas: Family is a good distraction and the internet is a bad distraction.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Joonas: I think it is easier to do self-publishing. I cannot say anything about working with the big publishers. It depends on the quality of the work.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Joonas: Craig Thompson. I am just a fanboy - I love his brushwork and storytelling.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Joonas: Festivals help to meet with other creators and to realise you are not the only crazy one.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Joonas: If you are going to work with so time-consuming and challenging medium, choose your stories carefully. Don't waste your readers time.
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Joonas: If I had to pick one from recent times then it would be Polina by Bastien Vives.
Joonas, thank you very much for your time and I hope you enjoy the Festival.
JOONAS SILDRE ONLINE
Interview questions by John Freeman