Amazon Aid Foundation Artists for The Amazon program is happy to welcome communication designer Simon Becker and visual artist and animator Tiago Araújo who teamed up to create the picture book “Tikiriri in the Land of the Faceless Giants” which is enhanced with augmented reality. This educational project allows to spark an insightful conversation with children about the deforestation of the tropical rainforest.
How did you first become inspired by the Amazon?
Tiago Araújo: It is undeniable that the Amazon rainforest plays an essential role in the regulation of our climate and is a sanctuary for biodiversity that we collectively should nourish and protect.
Simon Becker: It is also the home of diverse indigenous cultures that have their own wisdom, traditions, and whose way of life has a lot to teach to the Western industrialized world, where we are more and more detached from nature and a sense of beauty and wonder. The urgency to protect this giant ecosystem which is currently under attack is one of our main creative drives at the moment.
How does the Amazon Rainforest and environmentalism manifest in your work?
Simon Becker: Since I became a father four years ago, I wanted to work on a children’s picture book. My first thought was that this book should have a deeper purpose and meaning. When we started working, we brainstormed and talked through a variety of social and political issues, and we decided that the topic of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest was one of the urgent ones.
Tiago Araújo: Last year, levels of deforestation have gone up nearly 20-30% in the Amazon region, which is suffering illegal exploitation of miners, loggers, and farmers driven by corporate interests. The Amazon rainforest also plays an important role in the regulation of climate systems and the mitigation of global warming is dependent on the preservation of this massive ecosystem.
How did you come up with the idea for your story?
Tiago Araújo: The whole story in “Tikiriri in the Land of the Faceless Giants” is focused on the topic of deforestation caused by human activity and the dislocation of species and indigenous cultures connected to this same event. The Faceless Giants burn and exploit the resources of the rainforest and the main character Tikiriri is forced to fly away. She is forced to move into the city and to live among Giants and city birds.
Simon Becker: This will be essentially an educational picture book that will inform children (and probably even parents) about the current calamities of deforestation of rainforests and the exploitation of their natural resources.
Why were you drawn to a toucan as a character?
Simon Becker: The toucan is an archetypical animal from the rainforest and has a specific symbolism in certain indigenous cultures – toucans are sometimes seen as mediators between the realm of the living and the beyond. The bird also stands out because of the huge colorful beak and exuberance.
How did the collaboration come about?
Simon Becker: Tiago and I joined forces as he moved to Berlin one year ago. I am currently running a small graphic design studio and Tiago, a freelance illustrator and animator, applied as a participant from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs – a European mobility program initiated by the European Union in 2009, which gives aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to get first-hand, practical coaching from experienced entrepreneurs running small and medium-sized businesses.
How do you do your process? Write then illustrate? Vice versa? Develop the story together?
Tiago Araújo: We first brainstormed diverse topics and subjects and after developing rough sketches of the story and characters, we came up with a story. But it was important to keep the process open for changes and potential reformulations. After developing a concrete storyboard and storyline, we were ready to actually work on the illustrations and on the whole visual concept for the book, including the interactivity.
What is augmented reality? How would that work in a picture book?
Tiago Araújo: The augmented reality is the enhancement of the 2D visual content in the printed book to an expanded 3D media experience. Through an app installed on a smartphone or pad, the reader can get more information out of each illustrated spread and explore deeply the different visual details on the page.
Simon Becker: Our intention is not to make the narrative and reading dependent on the interactivity. This way, the enhancement should work as an add-on – the reader can explore the details of each illustration like a cabinet of curiosities. Like this, we wanted to enlarge the target group, so that even older kids can be interested in the book and find some deeper, detailed information about the actual topic.”
Amazon Aid Foundation Artists is excited to see “Tikiriri” come to life teaching younger generations about the beauty and importance of the Amazon.