Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lisa Coutts PIO issue 288 May 2010

What's this illustration for?

This is a personal piece. I was testing out a new pastel medium on paper, but using coloured pencils. The image was inspired by the memory of me not being able to do cartwheels and handstands at school when everyone else seemed to be so good at them. It's called "I can't do handstands". I was very happy with how the pencils worked on the pastel medium too.

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

It all depends on what I'm working on. Sometimes it is literally flash of inspiration, or even something I've dreamt about. When that happens I excitedly start scribbling my ideas. Other times I might be doodling with no particular direction in my sketch book and something evolves from that. It may even become a flash of inspiration. If it's project with a brief, I make sure I read it carefully, read the manuscript (if it's a book of course!) do some research and start drawing. I love it when I start with the blank page and the character comes to life, even beyond what's described in the story.

How did you get your start as an illustrator?

I was studying Graphic design with a plan to become an illustrator, so I answered all my assignments in a very illustrative way. I also had a great lecturer who was also an illustrator who gave me a lot of encouragement. When I was in fourth year, a friend was a designer at an educational publisher and thought my style would be perfect for a text book she was working on, so commissioned me for the cover. After Uni I created a eye catching mail out which attracted some interest and I toted my folio all over
Melbourne. Fortunately work started coming in...that was the hard old days before the internet!

Who or what has influenced your work?

Lots of things come and go with influencing and inspiring me, but I would have to say the picture books I had as a kid. My Aunty used to search high and low for special books to give me, and I still have some of those today. I also would say Peanuts. I loved the subtle melancholy of the kids. Some of the feelings and moods were very strong in the strips - very sensitively observed. Snoopy was my least favourite.

What's your favourite media for creating pictures?

I use acrylic, dry pastels, and coloured pencils - not together. I like blending and creating a soft texture and I also love to scribble. These mediums allow me to do that best - especially the latter two.

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

Indeed I do. I have just come out of a big chunk of it. I try to go out, look at new things and not necessarily artistic things. Just a stroll in an unfamiliar part of my neighbourhood is good for the soul. I try to look and draw things a bit differently; experiment...just to climb out of the rut. Looking at books, magazines, films also helps. Inspiration can spring from anywhere if you let it.

What's the worst thing about being a freelancer?

Not always having a nice regular wage and having to do accounts. I'm really not good with numbers.

And the best?

The freedom to work whenever I want and having my cat at work with me. Also the opportunity to take my work in different directions.

What are you working on at the moment?
A book about a scary old lady who is actually a mermaid, a book about a girl who is turning into a frog and a collection of works for an exhibition in May.

Where can we see more of your work?

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