Playfulness, authenticity and enjoyment make up the overriding theme of Eszter Lerner‘s work. The graphic designer and illustrator from Budapest loves to combine storytelling with typographic and illustrative design, something that is demonstrated in a new children’s book about her ancestors.

Entitled My Ancestors Were Children Too, the book recounts the charming stories of three generations of Lerner’s own family, starting from the early 20th century during her great, great grandmother’s childhood, followed by her grandmother’s experience in the 1950s and then her mother’s and aunt’s in the 1970s.

“These stories tackle the topics of family relationships in everyday life,” Lerner tells Creative Boom. “The questions that I was interested in are: how social norms and relationships in a family circle have changed and evolved? and, How do society and social norms impact the everyday life of family, children, and child-parent relationships?” To find answers to these questions, Lerner carried out further research, collecting written and visual material to gain knowledge about history, politics, hierarchy, customs, everyday life, social norms, architecture, and fashion.

“I found myself being fascinated by the details of the architecture, clothing, and the everyday objects,” she explains. “This led me to bring different visual approaches together and experimenting with the integration of my illustrations together with the collected archival photographs. I physically cut up images and started playing around with their placement.”

Looking at her past, Lerner discovered a gradual change in child and parent relationships, too. “My great-great-grandmother, Margaret, was born into a Hungarian aristocratic family. Her father owned a box factory who was always busy with work, so she didn’t have a close relationship with her parents and resisting the social expectations of the time in terms of children’s behaviour, she did a lot of pranks, following her own mind. Thus, her parents registered her into a religious school to teach her some manners. In the later stories, I found that in my grandmother’s and my mother’s childhood stories, the family had a closer relationship with each other and spent more time together.”

Bringing these personal stories together in a light-hearted, engaging way for a young audience, My Ancestors Were Children Too is a children’s book that hopes to spark curiosity. “I want children to be interested in their own family stories. Talking about family stories together is a really personal and uniquely different way of learning about history, social life, and norms because it can be experienced in lots of ways,” Lerner adds.

Eszter Lerner is a graduate in graphic design and is currently a postgraduate student at the University of the Arts London where she’ll receive her masters in Illustration next month. You can follow her work on Instagram.

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