Monday, July 20, 2009

Heather Anderson

1. What's this illustration for?

This is a page from the third book in a rhyming series I have written called ‘Little Bird’. In this particular book, ‘Busy Little Bird’, the reader is introduced to 3 of Little Bird’s friends. The book is a story about self discipline and making enough time in your life for everything, especially your friends.

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

I’m a graphic designer by trade so I’m used to planning out brochures. I treat the illustration construction in the same way. I work out a pagination, dividing my text equally amongst it, then sketch out rough concepts for each spread. Once I feel I have visually covered the story I go back and fine tune the scale and content of each illustration. Finally I draw each of the elements out in marker pen. I keep drawing the same thing over and over till I’m comfortable with the execution. Some images take more attempts than others. Then I scan each black and white drawing and compose them in a draw programme on my computer, where I create my final artwork.

3. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Over the years in the design industry I have had to occasionally draw small illustrations for printed material. The style I use for Little Bird is quite specific in its simplicity. This style was also used as part of a branding project for an Occasion Card company in Singapore last year. Initially I sketched a logo idea for my client. She liked it exactly as it was so we ended up creating a whole series of illustrations to support the seasonal sales of her cards. I was happy with the outcome and had positive feedback about the images from other people, so decided to apply the style to my own books

I have worked with two different illustrators on my other books and they were both wonderfully talented. However in this series, I knew I wanted to be able to create the books quickly and be in full control of the artwork, so it seemed like the perfect solution. I actually created this book and one other in Sydney last November. I stayed in a friend’s house with no internet access. As wonderful and integral to our lives the internet is, I achieved a huge amount of work in its absence. I not only wrote 14 of my series stories but illustrated, scanned in and artworked two complete books, all within the space of a week. I also managed to get out and about and see quite a bit of the city too.

4. Who or what has influenced your work?

Nothing has consciously I have always enjoyed creating illustrations for fun, and in my design role, I had to formulate a method of fast sketching to get across ideas to my team, so I imagine its developed that way.

5. What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

Black fiber tip, broad nib marker pens. It’s all I ever draw with. Colour is either added through scanning in the black and white image and applying through the computer, or I use coloured pantone markers on the original.

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

I can’t say that I have. If draw mostly from my head, but if I’m struggling with, say creating a particular animal, I will use the internet for a photo reference then I usually have no problems with execution. The ideas and compositions, as I mentioned come to me in a quite logical left brain fashion, due to my training in design.

7. What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

I don’t think there IS a worst thing about it. I gave up my full time position as Creative Director in a branding company to freelance and have no regrets at all. I guess if I were digging deeply for something that’s a slight issue, it would be that the arrival of cheques can be unpredictable and sporadic, but they always do come eventually.

8. And the best?

Absolutely the freedom. I love it. I’m also a bit of a night bird, so if I feel inspired at midnight and want to work through the night instead of 9-5, it’s not a problem for anyone.

9. What are you working on at the moment?

In addition to paid work, which involves writing for magazines and brochures (because I can’t pay myself to illustrate yet!), I’m working on the remaining 25 Little Bird books in my series. I have many concepts for the characters in other mediums, such as animation, games, content etc. so I’m continually expanding the series image content and character list.

10. Where can we see more of your work?

You can view a lot of my illustrations at This is the client I created icon based illustrations for. Also my website, which is under construction at the moment, but should be more active very soon, It currently has only one page visible showing my other books; not all illustrated by me. The other place where I have more of my Little Bird illustrations on display in my gallery, is ‘Jacketflap’, the social networking site for those if us in the business of books.

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