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CANADIAN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY 2022: INterview with Kellen Hatanaka

This year, CIBA commissioned artwork from talented Canadian artist and illustrator Kellen Hatanaka to help celebrate Canadian Independent Bookstore Day. We spoke with Kellen about his vision for the design and why he wanted to support the campaign.

What did you want the illustration to say to people about independent bookstores?

I really wanted to highlight the importance of independent bookstores and specifically the fact that they often offer a more unique or specialized selection of books. The artwork aims to convey that there is something for everyone in an independent bookstore and that even a small retailer can offer a wide spectrum of books covering diverse topics, subjects, and narratives. 

Did you know from the outset what imagery you wanted to include?

I knew that I wanted to convey that sense of diversity in titles and subjects. The focus was on communicating variety, so I wanted the images to touch on as many subjects and literary genres as possible.

Is any of the imagery personal to you or reflective of your experience with indies?

Definitely. Books on art and design are very important to me, so I wanted to make sure that those were visible in the piece. I know these kinds of books can be niche, so I appreciate that independent booksellers continue to support their creation and make them available.

Why do you think indie bookstores are important?

Indies offer us unique spaces and a truly curated selection of books. Each independent bookstore will have a different focus, specialization, or brand (so to speak). It makes the experience of shopping more interesting, compared to shopping at a big box store that is homogenous from location to location. There’s no character in those spaces and nothing special about the shopping experience.

Where else can people find your work?

I’m on Instagram (@kellenhatanaka) and my books include Maggie’s Treasure, Tokyo Digs a Garden, Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites, Work: An Occupational ABC. 

See Kellen’s full illustration below. Canadian Independent Bookstore Day is on April 30, 2022. 

Click here to download our save the date featuring Kellen's artwork (sized for Facebook/Twitter, Instagram in-feed post, and Instagram story).


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We wish to acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund.

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