Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I loved to look at picture books when I was a kid and couldn’t read. When I was 6 or 7 years old I began to make up my own stories and illustrate them. I think I’ve always been a creative person and loved to draw. But only after many years I realised that I wanted to be an illustrator and illustrating books could be my profession.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I studied at Camberwell College of Arts in London and graduated with a BA degree in Illustration in 2010.
Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?
I think my major influences come from the mid 20th century design and illustration.
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
I used to paint with acrylic and gouache, but when I began to get more commercial projects, I started to edit my illustrations digitally. Now I create my artwork in Photoshop and I really enjoy it. It makes my process easier and faster, which is crucial, when I work on commissions. But it also gives me endless possibilities to experiment for my personal projects. I love that moments of serendipity, which often happen when I work digitally.
What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?
My MacBook and Wacom tablet. I quite often work from different places or when I travel. These are my essentials and I always take them with me.
Do you keep a sketch book?
I’ve never been good at keeping a proper artist’s sketchbook filled with beautiful drawings. I only use various notepads to draw some quick ideas or scribble down random thoughts that I think might be suitable for my work.
Tell us about the creation of your favourite character from one of your books.
My book ‘Apples for Little Fox’ was published last year. The story was created around the main character, Little Fox. One day I drew a quick sketch of a little fox on a bicycle. I began to imagine what he likes and where he lives. I thought it would be fun if he liked to read mystery novels and eat apples, just like me. Gradually, I came up with a story about Little Fox who wants to be a detective and solve a mystery case. I also wanted him to wear a quirky little garment, but not a Sherlock Holmes hat. I tried several ideas and at some point, his turquoise pompom hat appeared.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
Usually I have a certain image of a character in my head, so I know what I’m looking for when I begin to draw it. I love to play around with elements, like eyes, nose or hair. If I have enough time, I prefer to leave the first versions for a few days and then get back to them to look with fresh eyes. It usually helps me see what can be improved or tweaked.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to be outside walking or cycling. I love long walks with my husband and our dog. When I stay at home, I like baking and knitting. From time to time I go on inspirational trips, during which I love wandering the streets and visiting small bookshops, indie stores and coffeeshops. I don’t usually draw from life during these trips, but I really enjoy taking photos, which often inspire my work later.
Do you have a favourite soundtrack you listen to when you’re working?
I like to listen to music when I work. Bossa nova and smooth jazz usually set me in the right mood.
Are you an author/illustrator?
Yes, I’m an author/illustrator of several children's books, published in the UK, USA and Russia.
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
Cats, dogs, bicycles and interior objects. Drawing these things always makes me happy.
Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?
I have a Westie dog named Cheva. He is my first dog and I adore him. I owned only cats before and used to consider myself a cat person.