Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Danielle McDonald

What's this illustration for?

This is one of the illustrations I created for a book called "I'm glad you're my Grandma" written by Cathy Phelan and published in 2008 by Black Dog Books. This was a 6 book series designed to be interactive, with pages to be coloured in, or written on to personalise each book.

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

I usually start brainstorming with words before I even start drawing. I ask myself lots of questions about the outcome I am trying to achieve and try to think of as many different and varied solutions as I can. This is usually a pretty frenzied process where I just open my mind to ideas, and it usually results in messy pages that only I can decipher. Then I usually pick 2 or 3 approaches that I want to explore and the sketching process begins!

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Pure persistence! I studied Graphic Design at University and majored in Illustration. I spent many years trying to get that so called "foot in the door" before eventually deciding I'd just have to work for myself. I handmade and sold my own kids products at local markets for years before finding a toy company who were willing to pay me money to design nursery toys for them!

This opened up the opportunity to develop children's décor ranges and eventually allowed me to move into apparel. This varied background has lead me into illustrating books and developing my own unique style that can be adapted to so many industries!

Who or what has influenced your work?

I have always had a passion for animation and as a kid I was a huge fan of the Warner Bros cartoons. I love their flat, solid use of colour and the expressions of the characters that barely need words to communicate their personalities and emotions. Jim Henson and Roald Dahl also inspire me for their incredible story telling skills and wonderful characters.

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

These days I tend to create most of my artwork on the computer, but I always draw and sketch my ideas on paper first, and then scan them into the computer as a base to build on. I do miss some of the traditional hand created techniques that I was trained in and hope that I can get back to some of this style of work this year.

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

Sometimes. I usually get stuck into some research through either looking at photographic references of the animals and creatures I am trying to create, or I explore other peoples work to see how they have found solutions to similar briefs.

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

Money management of course! You never quite know when you will get paid, or if you're charging enough, or too much, or how much to put aside for tax purposes, and superannuation. Then there's all the legal jargon to decipher in contracts, and book keeping, and…….it just doesn't end!

And the best?

Never having that "knot" in the pit of your stomach about going to "work" the next morning. When you love what you do it's never really "work"!

What are you working on at the moment?

I currently work full time as Product Developer for a well know Australian company, but just can't resist opportunities to continue my work in other industries through my freelance work.

At the moment I am working on the illustrations for 2 of the "Go Girl" book series for Hardie Grant Egmont, as well as a cover design for their "Zac Power" series.

Where can we see more of your work?

I have a blog where I share my thoughts and ideas at: www.reddogandjude.blogspot.com , and I am featured on the illustrators website: www.thestylefile.com. If you live in Australia and are familiar with my work you may even recognise some of my products out in stores.

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