Dreamy and soft, the art of Linda Albertini (aka Country Road Atelier) is beaming with homely warmth and a welcoming glow. To make her drawings extra mushy, this Swiss-based illustrator reaches for some Czech fairy tale magic and adds a reviving touch of Finnish nature. It’s easy – they all run through her veins.
In this week’s On The Spot, she talks more about her mixed heritage, her mysteriously American and yet surprisingly anime-inspired alias, and her artistic routine. Join in!
Your artist alias is Country Road Atelier. What’s the story behind it?
First of all, I am a country girl at heart. I have loved roaming through meadows and forests and discovering nature since I was a child. Recently we moved quite far out into the countryside and now I actually live in a little cottage on a “country road”.
However, I first thought of the name when I saw the movie “Whisper of the Heart” by Studio Ghibli. It’s about a girl who courageously follows her dream to write a book. I recognized myself very much in this girl… And since there is also a beautiful Japanese version of the song “Country Roads” sung in the movie, I decided to use this name.
What were your first steps as an artist? How did you become a children’s book illustrator?
Drawing has always been my favorite thing to do, and I was especially passionate about telling stories with pictures. As a teenager I went to art school for a couple of years, but became rather discouraged there and almost didn’t believe in pursuing illustration seriously as a career.
It wasn’t until years later that I took the plunge and started my Instagram account in 2021. I just drew what I enjoyed most, and to my surprise, serious requests for children’s books and product illustrations soon started arriving in my inbox.
On your website, you write that your mother is from Finland and your father comes from the Czech Republic. Does your origin influence your art in any way?
Very much! The Czechs are just wonderful at telling fairy tales, creating magical worlds, and they are also really great at children’s book illustration. Many Czech illustrators are among my absolute favorites, and I am passionate about collecting old Czech children’s books.
Finland, on the other hand, has always reinforced my love for nature; for me, there is nowhere more beautiful nature than there. Finnish nature has something magical, mysterious and pristine about it. I try to incorporate this aspect into my work as much as possible.
What else inspires your work?
Nature and my mixed heritage on the one hand, on the other hand I am inspired a lot by stories and movies. Last but not least, my faith in Jesus Christ has a big influence on my work. I believe that God is infinitely creative and that he loves it when we become creative as well.
Where do you usually work and what does your studio look like?
Since we moved into a small house some time ago, I was finally able to set up a studio at home. My work table is quite big, because I appreciate a spacious and tidy workspace. Around it, however, there are small treasures everywhere – be it prints, postcards or ornaments on the walls, or tin cans and wooden boxes full of small, beautiful things I collected in nature.
What’s your artistic process?
It depends on the project. Client projects, especially those with strict deadlines, really need meticulous planning and clearly set intermediate goals.
My own projects are much freer and depend more on what inspires me the most at the moment. I also like to consciously change the artistic process or change the medium. This often brings amazing results and keeps me flexible in my approach.
Is there any artist you’d like to grab a coffee with?
Zdeněk Miler and Tove Jansson for sure. Unfortunately, it’s not possible anymore.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not creating?
When I’m not drawing, I’m crafting, or baking, or decorating the house… I’m actually almost always creating something!
In between, I walk my dog and I love to watch series and movies. Mostly while drawing.