A showcase of Australian Children's Book Illustrators who have appeared in the Industry Newsletter PASS IT ON
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
What's this illustration for?
This is an illustration I did for the ABC SING! Book back in 2005.For the song "Don't Fence Me In". I just had a ball doing al the illustrations for the SING! Book. The format was right up my alley. Little vignettes of different things and mostly character based, and I could go through all different era's and peoples. It was truly a whole lot of fun. This illustration I love because it gave me a chance to indulge myself in some old cowboy stuff, which I love. You know, those old b & w cowboy pics of the 30's and 40's. Love it!
Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?
Pretty much. Things seem to work that much better if I do get that flash of inspiration. Then things just flow and roll through me and out through my pencil and onto the paper. It's wonderful and so inspiring and thrilling when you get into that zone. At other times, because I do depend on that flash of inspiration, I just wander about the place, potter, go to the library and see if anything can get the ball rolling for me there. I know the best thing to do is to just sit down and put pencil to paper and just start, with anything, and then eventually things start happening. There's a head space I need to get myself into and once there, it all just starts coming. I love that feeling.
How did you get your start as an illustrator?
My background is in traditional 2D drawn animation. After coming back from spending some time overseas I found the animation industry as I knew it, not very well. It was in the throes of being superseded by computers, so I took a deep breath and made a momentous decision to change fields and try my hand at Children's Book illustration. I'd loved children's books all my life so I took up the old adage, "do what you love". Amazingly, work and opportunities started coming my way. I'd sent out cover letters and sample drawings to various publishers, and then people told me about the ASA, I went to every Children's Book Event I heard of and talked with the illustrators who were all extremely helpful and supportive and in fact I still find that today the people in this industry are so incredibly helpful and supportive.
Who or what has influenced your work?
Definitely George Herriman and his "Krazy Kat" comics of which I am an avid fan! Bill Watterson of "Calvin & Hobbes", Pont, H.M. Bateman, Heath Robinson, George Booth, Saxon, Weber, Norman Lindsay, Michael Leunig, Beatrix Potter, Janet Ahlberg, ...the list goes on, and I've just noticed that most of them are cartoonists. Yes, I think that's where I really resonate the most.
What's your favourite media for creating pictures?
Black & White pen and ink. The line's the thing - the simplest and most direct way of getting across an idea. I love pen and ink. I think there's an art to it that we're losing if we haven't already lost it, maybe it's juts been misplaced. To be bale to get so much character and energy, or not, from a line. Lovely! It makes my heart sing!
Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?
I most certainly do! There are days when nothing comes! and as noted earlier I am one of those people who do depend on that flash of inspiration to get the ball rolling. Editors are incredibly accommodating people. I dips my lid to them all. To move past a block, I just have to start. Put pen to paper and just start drawing - anything...sometimes I try music to put me in that 'zone', but recently I prefer quiet. Sometime the library or a book store and nosing through children's book. Sometimes I get out some of my favourites looking for inspiration, but it basically just come back to putting that pencil to the page and just starting, even if what you start with isn't very good or satisfying, eventually it'll lead me somewhere.
What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?
Saying yes to every job that comes along for fear of no work down the track, and then suddenly all the jobs you've said 'yes' to, get the go ahead and then you're faced with having to fit them all in somehow. The other thing is people 'dropping by for a cuppa' not understanding that even though you work at home, you are still observing proper work hours. No office Christmas Party.
And the best?
Freedom. Doing what I love. Being available for my daughter while she was growing up. Being able to choose jobs that I feel a connection to. No office Christmas Party.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I'm doing a book about a bushranger that's quite funny and has a bit of a twist at the end. It's called "Capt Blunderbolt" by Ann Martin for Omnibus. Also a lovely story I’m really quite attached to about a very brave hen, called "Delilah's Dream" by Ian Trevaskis, for New Frontier Publishing. A series of 30 readers called "Gumboot Farm Series for Blake. I also do various cartoons about things in daily life, just for my own pleasure and the amusement of my friends...these are great to look back on and sometimes have us all in stitches. I'm also playing with oil paints… a whole new area for me, totally away from line.