Russian-born and -raised, Bagram Ibatoulline has been an artist for as long as he can remember. He began art school at age ten, after his parents had seen how proficient he was at sculpting. He went on to graduate from Moscow’s State Academic Institute of Arts.
Bagram Ibatoulline moved to the United States in 1991. But he says that his miraculous journey from childhood artist to children’s book illustrator did not happen overnight. “I worked as an artist in many different fields before I finally got the chance to do what I’ve always wanted—illustrating children’s books,” he says.
And Bagram Ibatoulline entered the world of children’s book illustration with a bang. His first book, Crossing by Philip Booth, received critical raves and earned him a Cuffie Award for Most Promising New Illustrator. He went on to illustrate Hans Christian Andersen’s The Nightingale, retold by Stephen Mitchell; The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman; Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes; The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson; and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, all the while exhibiting an astonishing range of artistic styles.
This fall signals the release of Great Joy, Bagram Ibatoulline’s second collaboration with author Kate DiCamillo. “I was very pleased to get the chance to work on Great Joy,” he enthuses. “The story is so warm and kind.” Indeed, Kate DiCamillo’s stories seem to provide Bagram Ibatoulline with a special sort of inspiration. “Working on a book by Kate is always a simply wonderful experience,” he says. “While I was illustrating The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, it was the first time I didn’t want to end work on a book.”
Bagram Ibatoulline lives in Pennsylvania.