Beyond the text: Translating the illustrated book

Illustrated books are more popular now than ever before. Publishers have found in the picture book —no longer only for children, but increasingly for adults too— an opportunity to make up for the loss in general sales of the last decade.

As a result, more and more book translators are now working on these iconotexts, in fiction and non-fiction. Whether infographic books, guides or graphic novels, the translator has to work on texts in which the verbal element is only one of the elements of a unity in which images, font and format are equally important. This constrained translation almost seems closer to the medium of audiovisual translation than to literary translation. However, the constraints, those “problems of the visual”, that the translators have to face are different for each format: fixed plates of co-prints, images that reference puns or cultural references in the original text, limited space, text within the image, orality that needs to be recreated… Plus the additional constraints of every translation task: small budget, short deadline.

The translator, therefore, needs to be aware of the demands posed by the strong relationship between the verbal and the visual; and finding ways to avoid the pitfalls with ease will become a basic requirement.

Carolina Smith de la Fuente (Santander, 1983)
Translator. Born on the shores of the Cantabrian Sea, she completed her undergraduate Degree in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Salamanca and her Masters Degree at the University of Granada. After a few adventures in project management, she began freelancing full-time in 2010. A versatile translator from English and French into Spanish, she has translated work ranging from press releases for the aeronautical sector to knitting patterns. She is also a volunteer translator for the Spanish MS Society.

Within the Spanish publishing market she has translated illustrated essays —Am I there yet? by Mari Andrew (Lunwerg, 2018)—, infographic reference books —Ciclopedia by Robert Dineen (Lunwerg, 2017)—, recipe books —Savour by Amber Locke (Lunwerg, 2018)—, and graphic novels —Notre mère la guerre by Kris & Maël (Ponent Mon, 2017)—.

She is a member of the Spanish Book Translator’s Association (Acett), the Spanish Translators, Copy-Editors and Interpreters Association (Asetrad), and the ITI North East Regional Group in Newcastle, where she has lived since 2014.