Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Liz McGrath PIO issue 473 Jan 2014

Please describe your chosen illustration

This illustration was done for a great government program called Streets Ahead which encouraged children to feel safe in their neighbourhoods and take to the streets. My task was to invent a lively streetscape with children using active transport to get around. It was used on a kit, magnets & large signs, and then adapted for badges and colouring in pages. I used waterfast markers, watercolours and Coptic markers, my favourite combination at the moment. It was fun to do and whipped up in a couple of days.

When did you know you had a talent for illustration?

I’ve always drawn, on piles of scrap paper as a child, and daily now with my own children and in my various work projects. I really loved art at school and became an art teacher. Friends and family have always been very encouraging, and as a parent I’ve loved drawing and creating with, and for, my children and others.

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

Way back in the 80s (when tertiary education was free!) I completed a 4 year B.Ed in Art & Craft at MCAE (now Melb Uni) and have since worked as an art teacher in Victoria and London. I’ve also worked as a graphic designer. While my four kids were young I stuck to freelance design and illustration from home, but now that they’re all at school I juggle my freelance projects with some great community art projects. This year I’ve been working with young parents and their pre-schoolers, students with disabilities, and children attending a local theatre. It feels great to be out and about working with others and sharing ideas.

What computer programmes do you use?

I use InDesign for layout, and occasionally basic Photoshop to fiddle with my drawings. I’d love to try using a tablet.

Have you illustrated any books?

Most of my freelance work over the past decade has been for government or health organisations, illustrating publications and resources with health, community or environmental messages. These clients seem to find me via word of mouth, and I’m very comfortable working with a brief and to a deadline.

I’ve illustrated marine creatures for identification resources, multicultural songbooks for children, manuals on women’s health topics, booklets on everything from sleep disorders to mental health, a boardgame, maps and even colouring in pages for the local paper. I live on the coast, and a fun activity book titled Kids at the Coast that I illustrated for Barwon Coast has just won the Victorian Coastal Education 2013 Award for Excellence.

For most of this year I’ve also been working on a lovely children’s picture book called Happy Pants which is to be released by Wombat Books next year. It’s Heather Gallagher’s poignant story of a child whose mum is struggling with post natal depression. Heather approached me directly, I was delighted to be able to work closely with her on that project.

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

Elizabeth Honey’s fresh and funny illustrations are some of my favourites, and I envy her beautiful confident linework. I think Freya Blackwood has a gorgeous delicate touch and her illustrations are exquisite. English illustrator Nick Sharratt’s work always catches my eye and makes me smile, and I love Emma Chichester Clarke’s eye for colour.

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

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

I’m always on the lookout for a fun new project, and enjoy being busy and challenged.

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