Friday, February 3, 2012

Sally Rippin PIO issue 261 Oct 2009

What's this illustration for?

This illustration is for a new book I have coming out this October. It is called ‘Mannie And The Long Brave Day’ and it is written by Martine Murray, who is not only one of my favourite authors but also a very close friend. ‘Mannie’ is based on Martine’s young daughter. This is the second last page, just before they turn the lights out to go to sleep.  

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

As the character is based on a real little girl, I started by taking lots of photographs of Mannie then did lots of drawings from these photographs, distilling them down into what I hope is more the ‘essence of Mannie’ rather than a realistic representation. Then, it was a matter of finding the right style and materials to best reflect the tone and mood of the story. After playing around with many styles and colour schemes, I eventually decided that charcoal pencil and watercolours in a muted palette were the way to go.  

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I began as Fine Artist, studying first in Melbourne then moving to China for three years where I studied traditional Chinese painting. I only switched to illustration when I became pregnant with my first child as it seemed a more manageable way to make a living from my art while I was bringing up small children than hauling great canvasses up and down Flinders Lane. I have also always written stories, so picture books were an obvious way to combine those two things.  

Who or what has influenced your work?

Oh, so many wonderful illustrators: Ann James, Bob Graham, Armin Greder, Ezra Jack Keats, Tony Ross, Quentin Blake, I could go on and on!  

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

Anything at all. I like to experiment with new materials every time I start a new book.  

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

Just keep working and constantly trying out new angles and approaches. I rarely feel blocked but I often carry ideas around for months or even years to let them ripen.

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

Irregular money and no holidays. You NEVER stop thinking about your work.  

And the best? 

 Everything else: the freedom, being home when the kids get home, working anywhere and any time, but most importantly making a living from something I am passionate about!  

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m always working on several things at one time. Currently it is a YA novel, an early reader series, a picture book and a short animation. I also teach one day a week at RMIT. I know, crazy isn’t it? I wish I could slow down but I find it hard to let any opportunity pass me by!  

Where can we see more of your work? (I will update my website soon, I promise. If I could only find some free time...)

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