Interview: Tereza Vostradovská (Aniscience)
I had the chance to interview the lovely Tereza Vostradovská, the artist behind the children’s game Aniscience - which she developed in cooperation with Circus Atos - and the physical book related to it.
What makes a good children's book to you? I read the project started because there was a lack of quality Czech education books for children. How did you tackle that?
Tereza: “I was trying to find some different way how to show nature to the "city children". One of the aims was to add some interactive elements that would encourage children's curiosity and interest in nature.
It's really hard to say what is the main thing that makes the good book for children. Every age needs something different. But from my point of view, children's book should be cozy and nice to the children and should bear the idea. Children can easily recognize the mood of the book and also the main character has to be appealing to them.”
As you made both a traditional & digital version of Aniscience, is there any interesting learning from that? Did you see that children interacted differently with the digital version? Where do you see strength & weaknesses of a digital book/ game versus a printed one?
Tereza: “That is still a big question. From our experience the most important is an attitude of the parents or teachers who are working with Hravouka (Note from interviewer: Czech name for Aniscience). If they can talk with the children and not only give a tablet into their hands, there is a space for cooperation and sharing of information. That is the point that makes learning nicer and interconnected.
Of course, the application makes children spend more time with digital media, that is one of the biggest weakness, but on the other hand it offers new possibilities in linking game and knowledge through modern media. The book is more like a practical diary that we can take to the nature and really see what's in it. From my point of view it is very important to link these two components together.”
What are your main influences for the art style of Aniscience and in general? How did the mouse character come to life?
Tereza: “I was trying to find some simple way how to present the nature as a recognizable system, but still with some stylization point in it. This was the hardest thing. The main influences were some Czech animators and artist like Bedřich Pojar, Zdeněk Miler or Jiří Trnka. Also we have a big game background like Amanita studio that is for me a big inspiration. I was trying to think up a main hero that is small, can fit to every place a can search out it's environment. That's why I chose a mouse, has the best parameters for this. :--)”
What was the children's favorite part of the digital book?
Tereza: “I have no idea, we haven't published the whole game yet. I think that every child has it's own part, that he or she likes. Many children are very happy inside the Mouse's house. It is also up to every children to pick up what gender the mouse is, because it doesn't have any name. There is more space for imagination and creativity for every child.”
Why did you pick the theme of nature/ why is it important to you? What kind of games or media is an effective way to interest children in nature (conservation)?
Tereza: “It was the main choice also because, like you wrote, I haven't found any nice material for preschool and school children about the nature. It was absolutely depressing to see the fact that children are influenced by this type of design from their childhood. And that is why I started with nature. In Czech schools in the first grade, there is a subject called "first science" - (PRVOUKA in Czech) that is mostly dedicated to the nature. I started from this point to improve the model of vision. And I think that the best way how to interest children in nature is to practice the experience: go to the woods, feed the birds or just to play in the grass.”
Aniscience can be downloaded for both iOS and Android: aniscience.circusatos.com
If you want to see more of Tereza’s work, you can follow her on Instagram: @tereza_vostradovska
or check out her portfolio: vostradovska.cz