Mircea Catusanu was born in Romania and studied painting at the National University of Arts in Bucharest. He now lives and works in New York City as a freelance illustrator and painter, incidental photographer, and occasional author.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I was lucky to be raised in a house with a huge library, so I was exposed to quality literature from a very early age. Most of the books I read as a child were already long time classics. I’m not sure I had a favorite, since there are quite a few that sparked my interest in reading and made a life-long impression: 35th of May and The Little Man by Erich Kästner, Tales over the Phone by Gianni Rodari, The Tales of the Perched Cat by Marcel Aymé, Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg, and the list could go on and on. It’s a shame so many brilliant authors in universal literature are virtually unknown to children today.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
One of my many favorites would be a dialogue from one of Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories:
“Do you wish a ticket to go away and come back or do you wish a ticket to go away and never come back?” the ticket agent asked wiping sleep out of his eyes.
“We wish a ticket to ride where the railroad tracks run off into the sky and never come back, send us far as the railroad rails go and then forty ways farther yet,” was the reply of Gimme the Ax.
“So far? So early? So soon?” asked the ticket agent wiping more sleep out his eyes.
I remember being baffled reading this as a child. I sensed there was a lot more to it, something I could not grasp at that age. It was a bit frightening too. I have to admit it still is.
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
This is a tough one, I could probably have not three but three hundred and thirty-three, all competing for the first spot on my list. Off the top of my head, here are three great illustrators with three unique styles: Spider (Daniele Melani), Catarina Sobral, and J. Otto Seibold.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I’m a visual artist but also an avid reader so I’ve always been tempted to translate into images everything I liked in the books I’ve read. I started as a painter and I consider illustration to be an art in itself, so when I began illustrating, I tried to draw a line and keep it separate from my painting. This is not very easy, since often the borders can get blurry. It’s like a switch in your brain that you need to turn off and on going back and forth between the two.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
As an illustrator, if you can afford it, be selective and take on only the texts that you really like and that inspire you. This way, your work will always be exciting, and will never become just a job. Or, better yet, illustrate your own stories.