Wikland was born in Tartu, Estonia and raised in Haapsalu, Lääne County on Estonia's Baltic coast. In 1944 she escaped with the family of a classmate from the second Soviet occupation of Estonia, to Sweden. She arrived in Sweden as a refugee.
In 1953, Ilon applied for a job as illustrator at Rabén & Sjögren. She was met by Astrid Lindgren, who had just finished writing the book Mio, my Son and who could see immediately that Ilon was able to “draw fairytales”. Ilon did a test-drawing for the book and after that her collaboration with Astrid Lindgren continued. Ilon has said that Astrid’s writing continually makes her see inner pictures. She also derives inspiration for her pictures from real life. In the same way that Astrid Lindgren wrote for “the child within her”, Ilon often also draws for the child within her.
Ilon Wikland is the artist who has illustrated the greatest number of Astrid Lindgren’s books:
- The Six Bullerby Children (a.k.a. The Children of Noisy Village)
- The Children on Troublemaker Street
- The Brothers Lionheart
- Mio, My Son
- Nils Karlsson Pyssling
- Ronia the Robber's Daughter
- Seacrow Island
- The Ghost of Skinny Jack
She has also provided the illustrations for many picture-books by Lindgren and many other writers, including The Dragon with Red Eyes, I Want a Brother or Sister, That’s My Baby, Brenda Helps Grandmother, Simon Small Moves in, and The Borrowers.
- Ilon Wiklands artshop
- Information on www.astridlindgren.se
- Iloni Imedemaa – Ilons Wonderland
- I Draw, Therefore I Am on YouTube
- Soome produtsent ja lavastaja John Hakalax räägib Ilon Wiklandi eluloofilmi saamisloost
- I DRAW, THEREFORE I AM (2009) – The documentary describes the strong-minded and fearless Estonian Ilon Wikland's childhood and growth towards adolescent and independence, by Kim Finn and John Hakalax
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