As children, we were taught to never judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to illustrated books, the visuals can actually enhance our reading experience, elevating it to new levels. In the case of twin illustrators Anna and Elena Balbusso, the visuals are a critical focal point to the whole literary piece.
Known collectively as the “Balbusso Twins”, Anna and Elena Balbusso create striking book covers and illustrations in a variety of styles. Using a combination of traditional tools like acrylic, gouache, pencil, pen, and collage, alongside digital programs, their work has an imaginative quality to it, inviting the reader to plunge inside.
According to the twins, their personal style has developed over time and required a lot of trial and error: “The digital coloring process with photoshop is very complex and has been developed following many years of work experience,” the two explained in an interview with The Arts Shelf.
Though digital, the final result looks more like a painting on paper or canvas. Indeed, their work is sometimes referred to as “enticingly Renaissance and eerily new wave”.
Having illustrated over 40 books (!), the Balbussos have earned their place in the illustrator canon, receiving some 80 international awards for their work, including the Stevan Dohanos Award of the New York Society of Illustrators.
“The comparison with other international artists makes us better understand what we can do to improve ourselves,” say the sisters.
Recent books the two have illustrated include a 2018 Folio Society edition to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The History of The Merrion Hotel.