Sunday, March 1, 2009

Katie Stewart

What's this illustration for?

It was the illustration of the last page of ‘The Big Red Bucket’ by Karen Treanor (Quenda Books) which was published in 2006 – my first chance at colour illustrations. The book is one in a series called Scoot, Scoot, Bandicoot – stories about Bounce and Pounce, two baby bandicoots who get into all sorts of mischief. The books raise awareness of bandicoots in the wild.

Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?

Generally I work with the author and try to achieve what they want. I enjoy being allowed to do whatever I’m inspired to do too, but you have to be flexible. Sometimes, of course, the words just make an illustration ‘appear’ in my head. That’s a good feeling.

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I had my first break when I saw an ad for someone to do illustrations for a series of school maths books. After that I was busy teaching and raising a family and my illustration work got put aside. Then, a few years ago, my local Arts Society heard of someone wanting an illustrator for the books about bandicoots. I’d just had a mini exhibition of pastel drawings, which included one of a numbat, so they suggested me.

Who or what has influenced your work?

I was brought up on Beatrix Potter and learned to draw by copying her pictures, so I suppose she’d be the greatest influence. I’ve always drawn animals, simply because I love them. But I love doing cartoon type illustrations too.

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

I’ve always loved pastels, but find them too fiddly for book illustrations, so I use watercolour washes and coloured pencil on paper that I can scan on my own scanner. The results are soft and I like the effect. I also enjoy doing black and white sketches and colouring them on the computer for a much brighter effect, but I’m still learning to do that properly.

Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?

I wouldn’t call it illustrator’s block, but there are definitely times when I just don’t feel like drawing. If I’m lucky they don’t coincide with an illustrating job with a deadline! I’m trying to break into writing at the moment too, so if I run out of inspiration for one, I just turn to the other. It’s a lovely balance.

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

You can’t make plans as a freelancer. You may get a book, you may not. So I can’t depend on it for income. Fortunately, I have a part-time job as a school library assistant, which I love, and I occasionally sell some of my writing. But it would be nice to get more illustrating work.

And the best?

As a freelancer I can work closer with the writer and be more confident that what I’m doing is what they want. As a writer I know I have very definite ideas about what I think the illustrations for a story I’ve written should be (one day I may even get around to doing them), so it’s good if they’re happy with what they’re getting.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m just about to start work on another of Karen Treanor’s books in the ‘Scoot Scoot Bandicoot Series’.

Where can we see more of your work?

My website –

No comments: