What's this illustration for?
This illustration is from 'Dragons of Galapagos'.
It is very different from the work I am usually known for. I tend not to like my illustrations once they are completed. Often as soon as I finish a book I think of a better way of doing it. What I like about this illustration is that it doesn't look as if I did it which in an obscure way gives me permission to like it. It was also illustrated with my left hand which is proving to be a much more expressive hand to work with.
Do you have to wait for a flash of inspiration - how do you start?
Inspiration is always a good place to start though you can 'make' the creative process happen by simply starting and moulding the marks as you make them. Nothing worse than a blank sheet of paper. Making a mark will inspire another and then another, and an alteration, a change of direction, suddenly there's an idea.
How did you get your start as an illustrator?
I've drawn ever since I could hold a pencil in my hand so I had always wanted to be an 'artist' whatever that meant. Even though I have always painted for myself and had exhibitions my image making processes have always tended towards illustration. Originally I worked in advertising as an art director and as an illustrator. Picture books were a natural progression in that combined with my writing it has giving me the perfect vehicle for my storytelling.
Who or what has influenced your work?
I am influenced by other illustrators I admire and animated film. Illustrators like Chris Van Allsburg, Shaun Tan and Armin Greder who create extraordinary worlds for us to escape into. Films like Toy Story, Nemo, Ice Age and Wall-E with sharp multileveled dialogue and beautifully developed characters.
What's your favourite media for creating pictures?
The mediums I am most comfortable with are pencil and water colour. Though recently I have started to use a software program called Cinema 4D where you can create cinematic 3D type imagery which is amazing. Very interesting, using lights and cameras in a 3D environment.
Do you experience illustrator's block - if so, what do you do about it?
Yes I think most image makers do at some point. I am usually working on three or four projects at once so often I'll switch projects for a while. When time doesn't allow me to do that I find the only answer is to really put your head down, go through the basics until it starts to flow again and get it done. What can help, and I recommend this to others - is to draw with the other hand for a while, it can free up the pathways to the part of the brain that's function is drawing.
What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?
The worst thing is possibly the uncertainty of what you'll be doing next week, next month, next year. But you get used to that along with the irregular income flow. Isolation too possibly, in that we all tend to work in isolation in our own little studios rarely meeting other illustrators or authors.
And the best?
The freedom. No one looking over your shoulder, if you don't feel like working in the morning or want to take a break when the kids first come home from school you can. You can always make up the time later.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm just about to start illustrating two books that I've written. They will be illustrated in two very different styles. One, Nog and the Land of Noses using pen and ink which will be very scratchy and possibly partly drawn with my left hand. And The Drummer Boy a serious and hopefully touching Christmas story which hopefully I will be able to take my natural ability to draw with a pencil to the limit. I have just completed Zoobots using the Cinema 4D program mentioned above. This will be out in March and it will be interesting to see the response.
Where can we see more of your work?
I still haven't got around to producing my own web site. It's been on my to do list for the last 5 years or so but you can see some of my work on the following site.
Bruce now has a website - http://www.brucewhatley.com/