A conversation with Laila Ekboir

Fátima Ordinola

Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: Cambridge School of Art
Course: Children's Book Illustration MA
Category: Art and design

17 April 2023

MA Children's Book Illustration student Fátima interviews Laila Ekboir, a graduate from the course whose work was recently exhibited at the 2023 Graduate Show in London and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy.

Children's book illustrator Laila Ekboir working in an art studio

Where did you grew up and how was your childhood?

I grew up in a lot of different places. I spent many years in the States, and then eight years in Mexico.

In the States it was totally different than Mexico because I lived in a small town and I was really independent, rode my bike a lot and went to the park and school on my own. And then we went to Mexico, and it was a really big city, so it was totally different.

Book cover of Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen and Mark Buehner

What book from your childhood do you still love?

I think my favourite is Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm. I can’t remember who wrote it and illustrated it [Jerdine Nolen and Mark Buehner] but it’s my favourite.

What are your sources of inspiration?

I really like to dance. I like hiking and walking. They are probably my main activities.

How have the past few months after your course been? How were the exhibition in London, and the Bologna Children's Book Fair?

It’s been good. It’s a challenge. It feels like a lot of readjusting, but good.

Artwork by children's book illustrator Laila Ekboir, featuring a person looking out of a tall window at moonlit trees and plants

How has the course changed your life?

Mmm… that’s deep.

I was always already doing illustration, but it has made me feel more confident in my work as an illustrator, and I have more tools now to work independently and create things myself and see them through the end, and also obviously professionally. I feel more prepared.

What has been the most difficult challenge during your course?

I think the workload. Finding a balance between the workload and life.

I also have a partner, so I was trying to make sure I also have time with him. Maintaining a life was the biggest challenge.

Do you have any advice for new students?

Don’t be afraid to build communities. Make friends, really rely on friends.

What are you working on now?

Moving 😊 and getting life together. Moving forward I'd like to work on my portfolio a little more and maybe get it to the right place.

Find out more about Laila and her work on the MA Children's Book Illustration 2023 Graduate Show website or follow Laila on Instagram.

Fátima is studying Children's Book Illustration at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


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