Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved art and drawing. My earliest memories are delving into a big box of pens, pencils and crayons to draw pictures for my Mum, so it was natural that once I began to think about my career I knew I wanted to be an artist. It wasn't until I attended University that I realised my style lent itself best to Children's Books, and I found myself really enjoying the process of bringing someone's characters to life!
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I went to Bolton University in Greater Manchester, where I studied Illustration and Animation. I graduated in 2009 with a 1st degree.
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
I vividly remember reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a child and loving the swirling, textured colours that the caterpillar had, as well as books from Roald Dahl, E. B. White and Mary Norton.
Our family always had a lot of books and they were scattered about every corner of the house. Wherever I was I could reach a book and start reading - to this day it is still one of my favourite pastimes.
For me, the book that really stood out was The Jolly Postman (Or other people's letters). As a child, I had never seen a book that included actual letters, I really thought they had been taken from someone's doormat! I opened and closed them again and again, trying to imagine what the writer of the letter was thinking and what kind of person they were. I love those memories, and I try to recreate that magic everytime I illustrate a book now.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I sketch, colour and format everything on the computer! I love that it saves paper and the environment, but mostly it is easy to edit, adapt and make changes for clients without affecting the quality of the illustration. My go to programs are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and I can use different brushes to emulate different media, so the result looks hand drawn. It's also incredibly helpful when it comes to formatting for print, as I can adjust the bleed and trim down to the exact milimetre.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
It really depends on the client and what they are after. I never charge extra for edits or changes because I want the client to be 100% happy with the character I draw. That does mean sometimes I am re-drawing a character up to 10 times by changing little details and trying out different features to see what works, but I think it's worth it. A lot of the time though, a client instantly falls in love with the first sketch I send so we go with the first design.
How long does it take on average for you to finish a spread, from initial sketch to final colour?
While it does depend on what style is used and how many changes the client wants to make, a finished spread can take up to 8 hours to complete. I usually work on it in sessions, giving myself a break to step away and come back to it with a clean head. It's very rewarding to work on one illustration for so long and finally see it completed. I like to share updates with clients so they can enjoy the progress too.
Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?
Bold, Expressive, Colourful and Emotive.