Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ben Sanders PIO issue 477 Feb 2014

Please describe your chosen illustration

I’ve chosen a sentimental favourite to talk about. It’s a little illustration that has been taken from “I’ve an Uncle Ivan”. In the book a new character is introduced on each page. This particular character, Buck, get’s his gut stuck inside his truck. I’ve pared back the colour to just blue and black (in the book he’s in full colour) and given it a block print feel. It’s not so much the imperfect ink overlapping on the wood texture, but more the comedy in the picture. I do feel sorry that his belly is making it hard for him to exit the vehicle, but want to laugh at him too. He gets the biggest laugh when I read the book to children.

When did you know you had a talent for illustration?

Not until I was about 10 or 11 years old actually. My father gave me a sketch book, which I filled with animal cartoons and caricatures of friends and family. My dad was impressed enough to submit some of my drawings to a local publisher who was looking for someone to illustrate a series of stickers. I got the job, I was freelancing at 12 years of age! Back in the 1980’s child labour laws were probably largely ignored, so I kept them as a client throughout my teenage years. I got loads of encouragement and guidance from my parents who are both talented in the creative arts.

Have you ever studied your craft at an institution of any sort?

Well, I’m a graphic designer by trade, having earned a degree at the University of Ballarat. The year after graduating I enrolled in the most intensive advertising course imaginable – AWARD (Australasian Writers and Art Directors) School, and the follow up course Super Group, where the top six students are mentored by industry giants. Apart from these I haven’t actually completed any formal art courses. These courses aren’t for illustrators but they influenced and informed my work in significant ways.

I was a sessional university lecturer for a couple of years, and since the release of “I’ve an Uncle Ivan” I have conducted some drawing workshops for kids.

What computer programs do you use?

The adobe creative suite is a necessity really, as I use Photoshop for the last few touches of an illustration. But I also use CorelDraw for it’s superior vector editing. Nothing beats pencil and paper though for concept sketches and roughs.

Have you illustrated any books?

Yes, I wrote and illustrated “I’ve an Uncle Ivan”. It was released in April 2013 and has already been shortlisted for the UK’s Association of Illustrators (AOI) awards. I have a second children’s book called “You could wear that Hat!”, which is due for release mid-2014. It’s a different look and tone to the first book and will appeal to a slightly different audience. It’s all about career paths, and getting kids thinking about the possibilities. I’m working on it with Thames & Hudson right now. On a completely different note, I have illustrated a lavish Vietnamese cookbook that will be launched in the next few months. I was commissioned for this one, but I’m most interested in getting the stories that I’ve written for children published by the right publishers.

Also, I was lucky enough to illustrate the cover for the 2014 Good Food Guide.

~Do you have a favourite?

To be honest my favourite book is the one that I’m working on. I enjoy the creative process of writing and illustrating that I get absorbed in the current book. So at the moment it’s “You could wear that Hat!”.

~Is it difficult working to deadlines? Does it interfere with your creativity?

It might sound a bit strange, but I love deadlines. It’s a good motivator, and it gives me a definite place to tie-up the job. When I work on my own stories it’s hard to know when to finish. I find myself working, and reworking illustrations. It’s good to stop before it’s overworked!

Who is your favourite Australian children’s book illustrator and why?

It’s hard not to choose Andrew Joiner. In the bookstore I’m always attracted to his well-considered compositions, lavish brush strokes and expressive characters. If there comes a time when I’m not willing or able to illustrate my own books, I want Andrew to do them. Genius!

What’s your website or blog address (if you have one)?

Would you like to tell us anything else about yourself and/or your work?

Well, I’m off to live in Bolivia for a couple of years. I’m going to be working on an illustration project voluntarily. I’ll still be freelancing for my clients from over there. I’m hoping to come back to Australia with a fresh perspective and some new ideas.

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