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Bernardo Carvalho and Planeta Tangerina

May 20, 2013

Bernardo Carvalho is a co-founder of Planeta Tangerina, a company who write , illustrate and produce picture books.

He graduated in Communication Design at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon and took the Design course at the National Society of Fine Arts. He has been recognized in recent years with several awards, including two special mentions from the National Illustration Award in 2006 and 2007, and honors the Best Book Design from all over the World’sLeipzig Book Art Foundation in 2007 and 2008. With the book Quickly, slowly, he won the National Prize for Illustration 2009. In 2008, Bernardo was one of 13 Portuguese names selected for the exhibition Ilustraçõ under the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna.

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I like the description they have on their site …

At Planeta Tangerina we make picturebooks – books where the text and image come together to create a unique outcome, impossible to achieve if both modes don’t come together in harmony. By this we mean that there is no redundancy or overlapping but rather the text and image interconnect and complement each other by making adjustments and readjustments, as they seek a balance.  Reading a picturebook is about reading words and images, it’s not about reading pages but instead sequences; reading picturebooks involves reading covers and endpapers, reading rhythms and changes of rhythm, reading scenes, planes, details and different representations; it involves constantly making connections between elements, appreciating the movement, the sounds, the pauses and the silence of the pages.

It is for all these reasons that we like to create picture books: on the table there are different types of ingredients and a thousand ways of mixing them, and better still no fixed recipes. We like the idea of everything being open, everything being possible. Experts say that picturebooks are “one of the most challenging areas of freedom and experimentation” and we can only agree. We try to make our way through this huge,  fascinating territory with respect.
We commit ourselves at every stage of a picturebook’s production, from the filtering of ideas, to the trying out and choosing of materials. We have two house rules: that we refuse formulas and that we challenge our readers (they deserve it after all).

Our readers are not only children, but all parents and adults who enjoy picturebooks and their unique way of telling a story. We know that our books are not always the “easiest” to read, but we like to think that a picturebook is a meeting point for readers of different kinds, that some will open doors for others, that big and small readers will find their own keys to the discovery of a book.

Bernardo has about 16 books to his name and such a range of styles, it would be hard to say which I like the most. Here’s a flavour of some of his books and his vast variation of illustrative techniques.

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It’s quite encouraging for me, (being an artist who also has many differing ways of working), that Bernardo doesn’t find it necessary to stick to one way alone, in order to publish his work and create a name for himself.

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Some beautiful movement and colouration here.

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It’s hard to appreciate that this is all from the same person.

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Planeta Tangerina said … When we started making books, we didn’t know much about the history of illustrated books, apart from the general knowledge of all readers with an interest in this subject. But gradually we are realizing our immense heritage and are amazed each time we make a new discovery: at the end of the day, somebody else had already been here, struggled with similar problems and tried to find new solutions. All those who came before us certainly felt that they had something to add to the books that already existed, and they did so, bringing new concerns and new ideas to their texts and images.

An interesting discovery is that technological change has always gone hand in hand with major developments in book production – in many cases even shaping those revolutions. This was the case with the introduction of color or with printing techniques, which allowed for a more flexible relationship between text and image. Another interesting discovery is that the current crisis is not the first of its kind: other crises have occurred, times when resources needed to be used as effectively as possible and solutions were needed that would provide publishers with good value for money.

Many say that this crisis is different from the others (history repeats itself but is never entirely the same). The publishing world also has to deal with markets and uncertainty and nobody knows what will happen. But while the future is uncertain, we will be here every day – as many have been before us – thinking and working, fully focused on what we put in our books. This is central to what we do – and also what we most relish.

It’s well worth checking out their array of stylish illustrators and authors here. What a lovely way to live and work.

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