Wednesday 24 February 2021

The Lipstick - Q&A with Maria Karipidou

We are delighted to welcome Maria Karipidou onto Picture Book Party for a Q&A on The Lipstick, written by Laura Dockrill.

1. Tell us a bit about your working process, especially any changes in the last year with lockdowns?

My working process is mostly intuitive, and it’s driven by a huge MOTIVATION. In the first few days of starting a new project, I don't know what to do first because I have too many ideas all at once. Then, after gathering the ideas and impressions in a big Hot Pot, I start picking the elements that stand out for some reason. And that often depends on the context. Unusual colours, unexpected characters, e.g. a character who is a cookie but also ANGRY! I had never seen that before.  

Angry Cookie, Laura and Maria's previous
collaboration is available in paperback

I don't think being in lockdown changed my working process all that much, because most of the time everything is happening inside my mind anyway. The only thing that changed was being unable to travel. I get a big part of my inspiration when I meet friends and people from all over the world at book fairs or during workshops. I’m not sure whether this will impact my future projects just yet, who knows! I'm curious to see what happens and what changes. 

2. How did you start coming up with ideas for illustrating this book?

It was the LIPSTICK and the little boy that inspired me (and of course Laura, who somehow changes how you think about the world after you read one of her stories!).

I immediately remembered what I was like as a child: my mum kept telling me that I always wanted to BE A BOY when I was a kid! That ended up with me standing in front of the toilet (as a 4-year-old!) and wanting to pee like a boy! I couldn’t accept NOT being a boy! WHO said I couldn't! So I let my imagination be in charge – like the boy in Laura’s story, who lets the lipstick be in charge. 

3. What was your favourite thing to draw in The Lipstick?

The lipstick has to be a definite favourite for the truly personal value. I loved the story's unusual set up; it was almost like having the house and the lipstick as the main characters, with the family members as the supporting cast. It was brilliant to illustrate! 

4. Do you have a favourite spread/line from the story?

YES, this has to be the best line, "I let the LIPSTICK be in charge!" It is so simply said, but it makes everything that follows in the story possible. It's inspirational, just letting things happen in your life, letting things run wild without always wanting to be in control. This is very similar to the first part of the working process I described; I let my ideas flow without thinking about it too much. I think we should all practise this a little in real life! 

5. Why do you think The Lipstick is an important story?

It’s because it was written by a mum and it’s about a boy – in that lies great importance for me. It’s about (early) relationships, about love, understanding, freedom. Exploring your own borders, being yourself, being loved as you are.

I’m sure that every reader will find herself/himself somewhere in the story (but please tell me if someone thinks he/she is the LIPSTICK, haha!).

Maria Karipidou, photograph (c) Anja Elisa Adam

Thank you, Maria for joining us on Picture Book Party! The Lipstick is available where all good books are sold!