Kertu Sillaste

Kertu Sillaste (1973) graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in textile design in 1996, studied tapestry at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré (Paris) in 1997, and participated in Viive Noor’s illustration course at the Open Academy of the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2009. She graduated from the Tallinn University’s in Master of Arts in Education in 2017. Sillaste has worked as a graphic designer at the Tallinn Central Library, and now teaches the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre Art Chamber. Kertu Sillaste is a member of the Estonian Graphic Designers Association and the Estonian Section of IBBY. She has illustrated books and textbooks; written five picture books; designed books, posters, fliers, and more; and has collaborated with children’s magazine Täheke. Her signature style comprises thick, vibrant India-ink brush strokes combined with acrylics or collage.

I studied to become a textile artist. After graduating from the Estonian Academy of Arts, I wove quite a number of big tapestries and painted metres and metres of silk. It was by a pleasant stroke of fate that I started drawing illustrations for books, and now I like doing it more than anything else. I enjoy drawing (painting, cutting, pasting), coming up with pictures, and positioning them in books. I wrote and illustrated my first solo book a few years ago. Since then, I’ve also enjoyed the simultaneous creation of text and illustration: I tell a part of the story in pictures, and put a part into words, because one doesn’t have to repeat the other.

I personally learn a lot from children when I teach them about (book) art. I’d like my books to be able to offer something for both little children and ones a bit older. They should include the joy of recognition and an opportunity to have your own say. I’d like a book to encourage children to do something on their own; to unleash their seed of creativity.

I try out different techniques when I illustrate: drawing in Indian ink and pencil, as well as collage. I do this so that every book has its own visage, and because it’s interesting for me. I start with sketching, scribbling, and doodling – it’s like thinking on paper. Later, I draw a clean picture. You can colour and adjust images a little on the computer, but the most important effort and the most enjoyable part lies in the hand-drawing stage.

Saksatamm, Markus. Tere-tere, täheloomad! Koolibri 2020
Sillaste, Kertu. Kõige ilusam seelik (The Prettiest Skirt), Koolibri 2019
Sillaste, Kertu. Loomakesed läksid linna (The Animals Went to Town), Hea Lugu 2019
Sillaste, Kertu. Mina olen kunstnik (I Am an Artist), Koolibri 2018
Vainola, Kätlin. Nähh Pariisis (Naa in Paris), Päike ja Pilv 2017
Sillaste, Kertu. Igaüks teeb isemoodi kunsti (Everyone Makes Art Their Own Way), Päike ja Pilv 2016
Pervik, Aino. Tähenärija ja Kriksadull (Starchewer and Cricksadull), Tänapäev 2015
Sillaste, Kertu. Ei ole nii! (No, It Isn’t So!), Päike ja Pilv 2015
Puls, Elise. Imelised naerupommid (Incredible Bursts of Laughter), Tänapäev 2014
Vainola, Kätlin. Kus on armastus? (Where Is Love?), Päike ja Pilv 2014
Pervik, Aino. Jänes keedab suppi (Rabbit Makes Soup), Päike ja Pilv 2013
Keränen, Mika. Armando, Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 2012
Sillaste, Kertu. Pannkoogiraamat (It’s Pancake Time!), Päike ja Pilv 2012
Vaiksoo, Jaanus. Jõulutaadi ootel (Waiting for Santa), Päike ja Pilv 2012
Vainola, Kätlin. Suvevaheaeg koolis (Summer Break at School), Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 2011
Vaiksoo, Jaanus. Onu Heino väike pere (Uncle Heino’s Little Family), Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 2010
Kütsen, Ülle. Väike puu ja rändur kuu (Little Tree and the Wandering Moon), Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 2009
Sillaste-Toots, Liis. Lapsed sööma! Maitsvat toitu laiast ilmast (Come Eat, Kids! Tasty Food From Around the World), Ajakirjade Kirjastus 2008
Laidla, Siiri. Armas hunt (The Lovely Wolf), Eesti Keele Sihtasutus 2008

2020 Annual International Contest ‘Image of the Book/Obraz knigi’, Moscow, laureate
2019 25 Best-Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (Kertu Sillaste. The Prettiest Skirt)
2018 5 Best-Designed Estonian Children’s Books, special prize of the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre (Kertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist)
2018 Good Children’s Book (Kertu Sillaste. I Am an Artist)
2017 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award candidate
2016 The White Ravens (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn’t So!)
2015 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Special prize of the Estonian Graphic Designers’ Union (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn’t So!)
2015 Raisin of the Year Award (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn’t So!)
2015 Good Children’s Book (Kertu Sillaste. No, It Isn’t So!)
2015 The Knee-High Book Competition, winner (Kertu Sillaste. Astrid and Ott)
2014 25 Best Designed Estonian Books, Certificate of Merit (illustrations and design – Liis Sillaste-Toots. Cookery Tips Black on White)
2014 5 Best Designed Estonian Children’s Books, Certificate of Merit, Special Jury Prize for Wonderful Illustrations (Kätlin Vainola. Where Is Love?)
2013 The Knee-High Book Competition, 1st place (Kätlin Vainola. Where Is Love?)
2011 The Knee-High Book Competition, 3rd place (Kertu Sillaste. It’s Pancake Time!)

Since 2009, Kertu Sillaste has taken part in exhibitions in Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

2020 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2019 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2019 Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
2019 Group exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Leafing Through Estonian Children’s Books II”, Moscow, Kolomna, Russia
2018 Exhibition of Estonian illustrators „Masters of Estonian children’s books“/“Power of Pictures“ in Russia: Krasnoarmeysk, Moscow
2017 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2017 Tallinn Illustrations Triennial (TIT), Estonia
2017 Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
2017 Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “A Window into the Fairy Tale World”, Haapsalu, Estonia
2016 Spring exhibition of Estonian illustrators, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre
2016 Exhibition of Estonian illustrators “Fairy Tales Come to Visit”, New York Estonian House, USA
2016 Travelling exhibition of Estonian illustrators, “A Walk on the Path of Fairy Tale Together with Charles Perrault”, Moscow, Krasnoarmeysk, Mytishchi, Russia
2016 Exhibiton of Estonian illustrators “Neighbours Who Love Reading”, Pskov, Russia
2015 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2015–2020 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; Moscow, Krasnoarmeysk, Mytishchi, Vyborg, St. Petesburg, Russia
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
2014–2017 Travelling exhibition “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 Exhibition by Estonian illustrators, “Old Fairy Tales” (Brothers Grimm), Estonia, Russia
2012–2013 “A Handful of Book Illustrations by Estonian Artists”, Poland
2011–2018 Exhibition of artists from the Baltic Sea countries, “Sea Fairy Tales”, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia
2011 Biennial of Illustrations Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia
2010–2011 Travelling Exhibition of Estonian Book Illustration, Russia, Finland
2009, 2011 Solo exhibitions, Tallinn Central Library, Estonia
2009–2010 Exhibition of Estonian illustrators, “A House Full of Fairy Tales”, Estonian Children’s Literature Centre, Tallinn

Everyone Makes Art Their Own Way by Kertu Sillaste
German: Jeder macht Kunst auf seine Weise, Kullerkupp Kinderbuch Verlag 2017

It’s Pancake Time! by Kertu Sillaste
English: It’s Pancake Time!, Ginger Books 2015

No, It Isn’t So! by Kertu Sillaste
German: Nein, so ist es nicht!, Kullerkupp Kinderbuch Verlag 2017

Where is Love? by Kätlin Vainola
German: Wo ist die Liebe? BaltArt 2015