Green Bean Books

Q&A with Rinat Gilboa

1. Why was this book a project you were excited to take on? 

There is something special about The Shabbat I Know. On the one hand, it addresses children of preschool age. On the other hand, it conveys a deep idea – the essence of the Sabbath, which is something that you can feel at any age. The text is minimalistic but full of meaning. The illustrations tell a visual story, whilst leaving space for a child’s imagination.

2. What was your path to becoming an artist/illustrator like? Can you offer tips or words of wisdom for aspiring illustrators? 

My love for drawing has existed since childhood. I grew up in a home where art was constantly present, as my mother was an art teacher. I studied visual communication and industrial design (MA), and I realized that illustration is part of the wider world of design. The combination of these worlds brought me to a deeper understanding of visual signs, typography, colour and composition, symbols and meanings. 

My tip is to find connections between different design fields, and to draw inspiration from these connections. Also, architecture and industrial design tell us valuable stories about people, places and objects.

3. Who are your artistic inspirations? 

I draw inspiration from Jewish artists from the beginning of the 20th century, such as E.M. Lilien and Ze’ev Raban, who were a significant part of the old Bezalel school staff. They incorporated symbolism into their work, trying to formulate a new local style. Israeli illustrators from the 1950s and 1960s such as Shmuel Katz and Yossi Stern also influenced my style. I have often been told that my style is reminiscent of the mid-century illustration style – sometimes I feel that I was actually born a century ago, and that these artists were my teachers.

4. What lessons do you hope this story inspires in readers? 

I hope that this story will make the small preparations for Shabbat more than a familiar routine. These preparations will have a personal connection – what is Shabbat for me and for my family.

5. Why do you think this story is an important one to tell? 

Shabbat, more than any religious rule, is a time that we can make special. Each person has their own experience on Shabbat. This story presents the personal experience, in a minimalist way and leaves enough room for the thoughts and imagination of each child and parent.

6. Do you see a Jewish value behind the tale, and if so, what is it?

The Jewish value I see here is a connection to Judaism through doing and keeping simple traditions. The experience of this creates continuous connections between each person and their family. 

7. Where do you stand on the ‘Own Voices’ debate? For a Jewish story, do you think it’s important to have a Jewish illustrator? Could your story have been illustrated just as well by a non-Jewish illustrator? 

As in any project, there is value in the fact that the professional is also personally connected to the content and does not illustrate only from a technical understanding. My ability to convey meaning within the illustrations is affected by the fact that I am an illustrator who is connected to the Jewish tradition and familiar with Jewish contents.

8. Which Jewish stories, or secular children’s books, did you love as a child? 

As a child, we had illustrated fairy tales series at home, and I really liked looking at the illustrations and trying to illustrate the characters. I particularly loved “Swan Lake” which translated the music into an illustrated book. To this day, when I hear the sounds and notes of this musical piece, I see the exact illustrations from that book in my mind’s eye.

9. What words of wisdom can you offer for aspiring illustrators? 

Find inspiration in tangent worlds to the world of illustration. Be interested in the environment, in architecture, in people, in culture. Develop another creative ability, such as music, photography, or sculpture.