Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I never really questioned that I wanted to go in to the design world. Throughout school, the only thing I wanted to do was paint, I even used to go the art department during lunch and break times. I genuinely loved it.
So it was a natural path for me to go to art school. As my style developed, I found all of my illustrations had a certain naivety to them and I loved character design so once I took on my first couple of children's illustration projects, everything clicked and I knew I was in the right specialism for me.
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Yorkshire (York to be precise) in the UK.
I now live in a small town in the French Alps called 'Morzine' with my husband and two sons. It's a beautiful place and offers an amazing outdoor lifestyle which I find very conducive to creativity. When I get blocked, I try to head outside and enjoy the mountains. There aren't many shops though so not many bookshops to wander round to gain inspiration.....I miss that.
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
It look me a long time to perfect my working technique. At the beginning of my illustration career, I often used to hear that I needed to perfect my own individual style and I never really knew what that meant or how to do it. Over time however and through a lot of drawing, painting, digital work and experimentation, I finally got there. I knew I had my own style down when all of a sudden, my designs became easy to create and I wasn't always looking to other illustrators trying to work out how they did what they did. Then, naturally all of my illustrations started to become recognisable as my own and my portfolio fit together.
Now my working technique usually starts with a watercolour base, I then scan that into the computer and build on it in a digital form using photoshop. I love my wacom tablet to get that slightly more natural drawn feel when it comes to the digital part of the design.
What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?
I couldn't live without my paints, macbook pro and wacom tablet.
Do you keep a sketch book?
I do. I have a pile of them. They're usually very rough and messy.
The picture below is actually a very tidy page for me!
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
My latest illustration project was for a touch and feel book for The Clever Factory in the US who were such a lovely company to work with.
I can't show any pictures at the moment as it hasn't been published yet but the give you an idea of the process involved....
Once I had secured the contract, The Clever Factory sent through the story and guidelines, I then had an ample period of time to create the pencil sketch work to show the layout of the page and character design. This was then approved so I moved onto the colour work. These were created using a base of watercolour and then worked over the top of digitally in photoshop. The upside to the digital side is that it is so easy to amend when a customer comes back with any tweaks or changes.
Once the first colour page was approved, it was a quick process to create the remaining pages as we had gone through amendments on that first page so I knew the style and colour were right for them.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
You've probably heard it a million times, but keep on drawing / painting / designing and perfecting your style.
And probably even more crucial, always be prepared to take on constructive critcism. If it's coming from an art director or publisher etc, the chances are it will improve the illustration. These people have years of experience and if you let them, can often improve your designs and consequently your style considerably. Don't be too precious.
Don't be too much of a perfectionist either....I used to spend hours having completed a design....just tweaking it and looking over it.....those last few hours were a massive waste of time. Now I get it done, check it and send it. And don't worry if you don't hear back immediately, these people are often very busy.
Have you always loved to draw?
I've always enjoyed drawing .... but for me, it's always been more about painting. I've always loved to paint. I think I spent most of my childhood with a paintbrush in my hand.
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
I love drawing animals in quirky situations such as the giraffe and aliens below. Drawing animals always used to be my go-to but in the last year or so I've loved getting more involved in drawing children (as shown below).....I love creating the cute-ness of a child.