illustrator, book designer
About the author
Regina Lukk-Toompere (1953) graduated in 1981 from the Estonian State Art Institute’s Graphic Art Department as a book designer and illustrator. She is a member of the Estonian Artists Association, the Estonian Graphic Designers Association and the Estonian Section of IBBY. She has illustrated and designed over 90 books and textbooks, as well as posters, record covers, postcards, magazines and packaging. Her works are held in the collections of the Estonian Museum of Art, the Estonian National Library and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, as well private collections in Estonia, Lithuania, France, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine and Russia.
The love for books I developed at already a very young age led me with an irresistible force to become an illustrator. My first published illustrations were for Ernst Enno’s children’s book Üks rohutirts läks kõndima (A Grasshopper Took a Walk, 1981): it was my graduation work, which also brought me cum laude honors and amplified attention on the Estonian children’s literature scene. From that point up to today, I have illustrated 2–3 books per year. All my illustrations – from my very first book to my latest – have been done by hand. All the originals are on paper, mostly using watercolor and pencil but sometimes also with pastels or gouache, and lately also using collage.
Tellegen, Toon. Kõik on olemas: Lugusid oravast, sipelgast ja teistest loomadest (Everything Exists: Stories of the Squirrel, the Ant, and Other Animals), Aasta Raamat 2018
Tungal, Leelo. Delfiin Delila suur sõber (Delila the Dolphin’s Whale of a Friend), Tammerraamat 2017
Tungal, Leelo. Halloo! (Hallo!) Tammerraamat 2017
Vaiksoo, Jaanus. Laul Eestimaast (Ode to Estonia), Ärkel 2017
Läks, Helena. Kasside salajane pagaritöökoda (The Secret Cat Bakery), Päike ja Pilv 2016
Tungal, Leelo. Lumemees Ludvigi õnn (Ludwig the Snowman’s Lucky Day), Tammerraamat 2016
Marjakobar ja teisi setu muinasjutte (A Bunch of Berries. Seto Fairy Tales), Koolibri 2015
Kadri Hinrikus. Suur maailmareis (Big World Trip), Tammerraamat 2015
Pruuli, Maris. Maiasmoka atlas (The Sweet Tooth’s Atlas), Regio 2014
Leelo Tungal. Vanaema on meil nõid (Our Grandma Is a Witch), Tammerraamat 2014
Aino Pervik. Väike valge pilvelammas, kes läks läbi vikerkaare (The Little White Lamb Who Walked Through the Rainbow), Päike ja Pilv 2013
Leelo Tungal. Porgand töötab porgandina (Carrot Works as a Carrot), Tammerraamat 2013
Aapo Ilves. Muinasjutud lastele ja suurtele (Fairy Tales for Young and Old), Futu Print 2012
Aino Pervik. Klabautermanni mure (Klabautermann’s Worries), Tänapäev 2012
Üle õue õunapuu (Over the Apple Bough/ The Prettiest Apple Tree), Koolibri 2012
Sada saarelehte, tuhat toomelehte (A Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves), Koolibri 2010
Henno Käo. Ajamasin (The Time Machine), TEA Kirjastus 2009
Väikese inimese suured reisid (Great Journeys of a Little Man), Go Group 2009
Neli kaunist kleiti (Four Beautiful Dresses), TEA Kirjastus 2008
Leelo Tungal. Sabaga päike (A Sun With a Tail), TEA Kirjastus 2007
Leelo Tungal. Siil Felix ja päkapliks Kerli; Siil Felix ja kriminaalne loomaaed; Siil Felix ja sekelduste sügis (Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf; Felix the Hedgehog and the Criminal Zoo; Felix the Hedgehog and the Troublesome Autumn), Varrak 2004–2005
Topelius, Zacharias. Knut pillimees (Knut the Musician), Varrak 2003
Andrus Kivirähk. Lotte reis lõunamaale (Lotte’s Journey South), Varrak 2002
With other illustrators:
Aabits (ABC book), Avita 2011
Eesti keele õpik 1. klassile (Estonian Textbook, 1st grade), Avita 2011
Elas kord… (Once Upon a Time…), Avita 2008
Suur valmiraamat (Big Book of Fables), Avita 2006
In 2006, one of Estonia’s most renowned illustrators – Regina Lukk-Toompere – wrote the following:
“When doing my illustrations, I think about:
1) what I liked as a child when looking at pictures in books;
2) what I learned about designing books when STUDYING AT SCHOOL;
3) what I have SEEN IN THE WORLD.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, which has pretty pictures.
NOTE! Pretty doesn’t mean a sweet princess, a furry kitty, or little pink flowers. A pretty picture is tasteful, has good composition, is unique, and is certainly INTERESTING and INFORMATIVE for the child.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, in which the pretty pictures convey the writer’s written text, its mood, and its style well.
I regard a pretty children’s book to be one, in which pretty pictures and a pleasant text are nicely positioned on the page. This means having a good, interesting design, the right font selection, the right font size, and a comfortable book format.
I have one more point of departure: a child must be able to ADMIRE the pictures. He or she must feel that there are people in the world, who draw well. I am disappointed when a child looks at a picture and says: I could have drawn that picture myself, too.”
This text has the ring of a manifest, the following of which might benefit most illustrators of children’s books.
Regina Lukk-Toompere, who was born in 1953 to a family of deported Estonians in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, began drawing already early in her childhood, just like many good artists. She got the idea of becoming an illustrator during her school years, when a teacher of art history at the Tartu Children’s Art School recommended that she study book design. In 1981, Lukk-Toompere graduated from the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR in the field of graphic design, specialising in book design and illustration. This is also the origin of her fantastic grasp of traditional drawing-, graphic-, and painting techniques.
Lukk-Toompere’s works are always recognisable. Over the years, she has remained loyal to her robust and vivid style. The very attributes that later made Lukk-Toompere who she is can already be seen in the first book that she illustrated: Ernst Enno’s “Üks rohutirts läks kõndima” (A Grasshopper Went Walking; published 1983). The use of watercolours (which is already so characteristic of the artist) manifested in this picture book, which she did as a final project – vivid layers of watercolour glowing alongside one another, clear outlines, a strong graphic element, and, of course, an abundance of detail. Details are important to the artist; or, as she herself says – they are her passion.
Regina Lukk-Toompere says that every one of her works is preceded by a period of meticulous preparation. For example: when illustrating Andersen’s “Vankumatu tinasõdur” (The Steadfast Tin Soldier), the artist went and purchased a fish, cut it open, found herself a tin soldier, and started planning out her illustration. Towards artistic ends, Lukk-Toompere has also kept a grasshopper in a jar, studied ethnographic objects and patterns, and done everything possible for the illustration to be informative and true to life. However, the artist does not get bogged down in details, but rather crafts complete solutions. The manner in which the text and the picture are situated on the pages can vary greatly from book to book. In some places, the illustration covers a large portion of any possible and impossible free space, but still does not have a tiring or over-the-top effect on the reader. Sometimes, on the other hand, there is only one small detail on a large, white surface; but this similarly leaves no feeling of emptiness. A new story in turn may arise out of every detail, or a new whole might be formed.
Lukk-Toompere has acknowledged that she constantly makes improvements to her outlines while making them, and the idea that is usually ultimately realised in the watercolour indeed ripens over the course of “doodling”. When she reaches the colour stage, however, everything is readied in nearly a single go. Each colour finds its sole proper place, and every detail is placed harmoniously within the overall whole.
Colours are very important to Regina Lukk-Toompere. She has matched the most variegated, intensive tones side-by-side with one another. In the case of her latest books, such as “Sada saarelehte, tuhat toomelehte” (A Hundred Ash Leaves, A Bird Cherry Leaves; published 2010), the design comprises a quite effective black-and-white coupling. In “Üle õue õunapuu” (The Prettiest Apple Tree; published 2012), the artist uses only black, grey, and greenish tones. These two books give a strongly graphical and elegant effect. In both cases, the artist has also skilfully incorporated several ethnographic details.
Regina Lukk-Toompere’s immense variety cannot be left unmentioned. The best proof of this is the fact that the artist has also participated in the making of a number of animated films. Her greatest fame in this has come from her work as a background artist for the Janno Põldma and Heiki Ernits film “Lotte reis lõunamaale” (Lotte’s Journey South; released in 2000). Lukk-Toompere’s illustrations were also published in a book, based on the film. A sharp eye can find in her pictures a whole series of characters not actually encountered in the film, each of which could almost tell its very own tale in turn. At times, the options offered in Lukk-Toompere’s pictures have been so convincing that the authors have indeed adjusted their texts and scripts accordingly.
Regina Lukk-Toompere has remained loyal to her style throughout the years. She has perhaps become only more talented, bold, and confident. In addition to her primary techniques – watercolours and pencil drawings – the artist has begun to implement collage over the last few years. Similar to her earlier styles, however, the artist still does not use a computer for her work, which is exceptionally rare in our day. Collage has mostly brought realism into her works, but has also given them a kind of unique, dreamy feel. Another interesting aspect is that a reader can still encounter in her works leaf- and grass textures, which already appeared in Ernst Enno’s poetry collection. In recent years, however, the artist has started to use these motifs in collage the very most – for example, in “Suur valmiraamat” (Big Book of Fables; published 2006), in which the leaf motifs give the effect of a powerful generalisation, but a love for detail still remains. Lukk-Toompere’s works over the last few years make it ever more apparent that she does not create a new fairy tale with her illustrations; rather, her fantasy derives from the text, and everything that she depicts is more genuine than genuine can be – whether or not that is possible.
Regina Lukk-Toompere’s works are admirable, and there are no doubt very few children who might say that they could have drawn that picture themselves, too. And if such a child truly can be found, then he or she may regard themselves as a true artist…
Text by Eva Laantee Reintamm
2006–2012, 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate
2018 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Toon Tellegen. Everything Exists)
2017 Annual International Contest ‘Image of the Book’, Moscow, diploma
2016 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit, Prize of the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn (Leelo Tungal. Ludwig the Snowman’s Lucky Day)
2015 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (A Bunch of Berries. Seto Fairy Tales)
2014 IBBY Honour List (The Prettiest Apple Tree)
2014 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Our Grandma is a Witch)
2014 Aasta Rosin (Raisin of the Year) Award, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
2013 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonian Children’s Literature Centre prize for best original illustration by an Estonian artist
2013 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot)
2013 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, 2 Certificates of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot; Birthday Stories)
2013 Good Children’s Book (Leelo Tungal. Carrot Works as a Carrot)
2012 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Andrus Rootsmäe. The Prodigal’s Saga)
2012 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Aapo Ilves. Fairy Tales for Children and Adults)
2012 Good Children’s Book (Aino Pervik. Klabautermann’s Worries)
2010 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (A Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves)
2010 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (A Hundred Ash Leaves, a Thousand Bird Cherry Leaves)
2009 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Great Journeys of a Little Man)
2009 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Henno Käo. The Time Machine), Special prize of the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre (The Golden Book of Estonian Fairy Tales)
2008 Raisin of the Year Award (Once Upon a Time…)
2008 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize of Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union (Once Upon a Time…)
2007 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. A Sun With a Tail)
2006 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (The Big Book of Fable)
2006 Nukits Competition, 3rd place (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf; Felix the Hedgehog and the Criminal Zoo; Felix the Hedgehog and the Troublesome Autumn)
2005 Baltic Book Fair, 3rd place, Most Beautiful Book, Riga, Latvia (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf)
2005 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize for a series (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and the Criminal Zoo; Felix the Hedgehog and the Troublesome Autumn)
2004 Nukits Competition, 2nd place (Andrus Kivirähk. Lotte’s Journey South)
2004 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Leelo Tungal. Felix the Hedgehog and Kerli the Elf)
2003 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Zacharias Topelius. Knut the Musician)
2002 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit (Andrus Kivirähk. Lotte’s Journey South)
Displayed since 1988 in over 80 exhibitions in Estonia, Belarus, India, Italy, Japan, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the USA.
2017 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT)
2015–2018 – International illustration exhibition, “It’s Always Tea-Time”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn; Riga, Latvia; Uusikaupunki, Finland; Gdansk, Wrocław, Toruń, Elbląg, Poland; Berlin, Germany; Szczecin, Płock, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; Oxford, the United Kingdom
2015–2018 Exhibition of Estonian Illustrators, “Once Upon a Time…” (Grimm’s Fairy Tales), Aosta, Anagni, Lagonegro, Bernalda-Metaponto, Corato, Matera, Roma, Lacco Ameno, Irsina, Siracusa, Sassari, Roma, Bologna, Italy; Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn, Estonia; Gallery “Culture University”, Minsk, Belarus; Kraków, Białystok, Szczecin, Płock, Warszaw, Elbląg, Gdańsk, Poland
2015 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2015 “Made With the Heart. Estonian Children’s Book Illustration”, Russia
2014 European Professional Doll Art Festival, Riga, Latvia
2014–2015 “Tallinn Illustration Triennial 2013. Estonian Illustrators”, Estonia, Poland
2013–2015 Exhibition by Estonian and Hungarian Illustrators, “Crisscross Stories”, Estonia, Hungary, the United Kingdom
2013 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2013 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2013 Travelling exhibition of Estonian illustration, “Etelästä tuulee – Lõunatuul puhub” (The South Wind Blows), Finland
2012–2013 “A Handful of Book Illustrations by Estonian Artists”, Poland
2011 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2011–2018 Exhibition of artists from the Baltic Sea countries, “Sea Fairy Tales”, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia
2010–2011 Travelling Exhibition of Estonian Book Illustration, Russia, Finland
2009 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2009 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2008 Solo exhibition, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn, Estonia
2007 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2007 Exhibition of Estonia’s leading book illustrators “Suur valmiraamat” (Big Book of Fables), Haus Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
2006 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2005 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2003 Solo exhibition, Haus Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
2003 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2003 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
A Grasshopper Went Walking by Ernst Enno
Russian: Кузнечик вышел погулять, Таllinn: Eesti Raamat 1986
The Goblin of the Hearth by Juhan Kunder
Russian: Подпечник, Tallinn: Perioodika 1985
Arabic: Tallinn: Perioodika 1983
Spanish: El duendecillo del hogar, Tallinn: Perioodika 1983
Felix the Hedgehog by Leelo Tungal
Russian: Ёжик Феликс, Tallinn: KPD Kirjastus 2014
Ludwig the Snowman’s Lucky Day by Leelo Tungal
Latvian: Sniegavīra Ludviga laime, Riga: Jāņa Rozes apgāds, 2018
German: Schneemann Ludwigs größtes Glück, Berlin: Kullerkupp 2017
Sweet Tooth’s Atlas by Maris Pruuli
Latvian: Gardēžu atlants, Tallinn; Tartu: Regio 2014