Please describe your chosen illustration
~What medium did you use?
I started with black paper and used grey and white conte, kind of drawing ‘backwards’.
~How long did it take?
A couple of hours.
~What is it for?
Tread Carefully is an etching and collage I created this year. It's for an exhibition I was part of with a Geelong group called The Friday Printmakers.
When did you know you had a talent for illustration?
~How old were you?
I remember being in primary school and being praised for my drawing skills, even being asked to do a chalk drawing on the blackboard! In those days, I used to say I wanted to be a ‘commercial artist’.
~How did you know? Did someone encourage you?
Teachers, family and friends all encouraged me. In High School, I used to make comics for my girlfriend who loved the Bay City Rollers (anyone remember them?). I would make up stories and insert her into their lives with my drawing and writing skills. My friend loved these and I loved getting the laughs.
Have you ever studied your craft at an institution of any sort?
Yes, at many times and stages. RMIT for Textile Design, Short course in Illustration at Swinburne, Diploma of Visual Art at Brougham School of Art, Geelong and for writing, a BA at Monash University.
~How long was the course?
All were about 3 years, but I stretched some out and didn’t finish Textile Design.
~How affordable was the course?
Well, in the 80s they were virtually free. At Brougham, I paid a lot for each subject, around $700 each.
~Would you recommend it to upcoming artists/illustrators?
Yes, it is so important to have a group of artists to bounce off and meet with. It can be an isolating and lonely vocation without peers.
~Do you run courses or workshops yourself?
Yes I have, mostly in printmaking.
What computer programmes do you use?
~Can you recommend any?
I use Photoshop in a very rudimentary way when I create paintings. I like how it manipulates photos I’ve taken and I paint from there.
Have you illustrated any books?
~How many books?
I’ve done around 100 books over the last 25 years; lots of educational titles and a few trade ones. The latest were a series of baby board books I wrote and illustrated called Eyes, Ears, Nose and Mouth, published by Brimax.
~Do you have a favourite?
That series is my favourite.
~How are you usually commissioned? What is the process?
I am usually contacted by the publisher via my website or the ASA Style File. Sometimes I have made calls to a publisher which has led to work.
~Do you have contact with the authors?
Not often. Sometimes through the publisher I might get a message from an author.
~On average, how long does a picture book take to illustrate?
A few weeks to do the roughs and the same for the final art, particularly educational titles, which always seem to be required in a hurry.
~Is it difficult working to deadlines? Does it interfere with your creativity?
No I find it concentrates my creativity. If I didn’t have deadlines, I may not get anything done.
Who is your favourite Australian children’s book illustrator and why?
Hmmm, a tricky question. I love Tom Jellett’s work. I think I read that he studied with Craig Smith whose work I love too. Just love the freshness and look of spontaneity the work captures.
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?
While I love book illustration, I have moved more into the area of fine art these days. I have done quite a lot of painting and printmaking these past few years as it allows me to expand in subject matter and medium. Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to incorporate these mediums into a children’s book…