Friday, February 3, 2012

Owen Swan PIO issue 269 Nov 2009

What's this illustration for?

From Hide & Seek by Irini Savvides, through Scholastic Press.  

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

I start by doodling and just do that for ages til I'm lost in thought, and eventually something usable might emerge from what's essentially an abstract mess. Flashes of inspiration usually happen when I'm on a train or somewhere so I try scribbling them down & see if they spark later.  

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Mark Macleod offered me a text & basically that was that, I'd met Margaret Hamilton at an art show and she mentioned my stuff to Mark . Ann James putting me on the Style File helped immeasurably and Ana Vivas has encouraged me non-stop since day one, we both met through mutual friend Jenny Gorman at Megalong Books in Leura (wonderful kids books section if you're ever up that way).  

Who or what has influenced your work?

The work of Maurice Sendak and Michael Foreman can cast a spell over me. It's always brilliant seeing other artists' work you can identify with - I really like Edward Gorey and that goya-ish nursery rhyme Paula Rego stuff for instance.  

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

I used to photocopy heaps and actually cut and paste using scissors & glue & liquid paper - it was a pretty messy time-consuming process compared to photoshop, but was more fun & spontaneous in a lot of ways. Mostly I use pencils & watercolour for finished work; I really love pen & ink but the way I use it takes forever.  

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

I suppose you've got to be in the right mood, it's futile trying to force anything. But I research ideas by looking anywhere & everywhere - movies are good, sometimes a still from a movie provides me with a setting, you can endlessly plow through old art books for ideas, steal poses from sculptures, or a particular hat from an etching; most props are lying round the house.  

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

I truthfully can't think of much I don't like about freelancing, I feel very suited to it. You're stuck on your own a lot so it can be a bit hermitic & you have to invent a schedule and then try sticking to it, which can be tricky. And the best? Listening to music round the clock.  

What are you working on at the moment?

A new picture book for Scholastic Press due out August 2010.  

Where can we see more of your work? My website is - it's about 3 years out-of-date though!

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