Amy Adele

Amy Adele

Represented by Good Illustration
Amy Adele Interview

Amy Adele

Children's Illustrator

How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?

Like most illustrators, I’ve always been drawing, I spent many hours drawing as a child. When I was finishing 6th form I looked at studying for a business degree but a yearning for creativity made me stop and look at taking a Foundation course in Art & Design at my local college, I remember ‘discovering’ that I could actually study illustration and my heart was set on it from there!

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

After finishing college I went on to study Illustration at University for the Creative Arts in Maidstone for my degree (my favourite project was visiting a local western reenactment town and creating a book from my visits) and then went on to complete a Masters in Authorial Illustration at Falmouth University. Falmouth was a lovely place to study, tropical gardens, Cornish coasts and live folk music in a pub by the sea, perfect!

Was creativity part of your childhood?

I always remember drawing from a really young age, I used to love drawing intricate scenes with lots of detail to find in them, farms with lots of different areas in them, houses with lots going on inside the house and garden. My mum was always doing creative things with my sister and I - lots of colouring time, making and painting salt dough figures, and her home-made dressing up costumes for school were some of the best! 

When I was 8 I remember winning an art competition at school and they announced it in the playground, it was a drawing I’d made of Wilfred from Brambly Hedge, I felt so proud and I’m sure that must have ignited a spark to think that maybe I could draw for a job when I grew up.

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Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

I’ve always loved to paint, I find a lot of brain rest with painting details such as patterns on clothes and animals fur! I tend to sketch ideas out in thumbnail form first (I’m always leaving a trail of paper scraps with doodles of potential ideas on). I use a lightbox to work up sketches into clearer drawings and then move on to gouache and watercolour paintings and then lastly some coloured pencils on top! Occasionally; once I’ve scanned in a painting I’ll use procreate to add little details in or make minor changes to a piece. There are some wonderful brushes out there that blend seamlessly with my work.

My current favourite paints to use are the Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolours, such gorgeous colours in these palettes. I have some lovely old wooden boxes that used to store library membership cards that I keep my single tubes of paints and pens etc in.

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What is your favourite children’s book and why?

The books I remember most fondly are stories such as Brambly Hedge, Richard Scarry's books, Beatrix Potter, The Wind in the Willows but also nature books, I can still picture exactly how some of the pages looked from a DK Eyewitness guide, it was 'How Nature Works’ and I remember studying pictures of bird eggs and cress growing! I also have a fond memory of pouring over all of the animals going about their activities in Richard Scarry’s ‘Best Rainy Day Book Ever.’

What do you do in your spare time?

I have two young children so as much time as possible is spent with my family, we love to go on walks together, we’re very lucky where we live to have lots of ancient woodlands to explore, rivers and a seaside to walk along with an old fishing village & some lovely pubs to visit after the walk! My son recently completed a huge walk in the Peak District and those rambly walks and talks are my favourite! (Insert pic)

If I catch any spare time on my own I’m quite partial to a hunt around the charity & antique shops to find more treasures to fill my shelves! 

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Do you have a favourite soundtrack you listen to when you’re working?

I go through stages throughout the day depending on what I’m working on, if I’m in the full swing of a painting I will listen to podcasts or audio books and get completely lost in the moment. If I’m working on drawing out an image I will need something like a film soundtrack (quite often The Lord of the Rings) so i can concentrate fully on the drawing, when it gets to the afternoon I usually switch to some folk music or if I need waking up a bit some punk or rock usually does the trick!

Where do you get the ideas for your characters?

I find I feel most inspired in the woods, my phone is full of photos of holes in tree stumps for the potential to be animal or gnome houses and mushrooms! Imagining what kind of lives the animals have when we’ve all gone home is also a thing my children get fully on board with. Watching my children drawing their own pictures and creating their own stories is a joy.

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What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?

Well, I still feel like I’m starting out myself in this career. I had a long break from illustrating whilst my children were very little and now they are both in school I have been able to pick it back up again. It sounds obvious but I would say to keep drawing what you love, fully indulge in your inspirations and you will create a portfolio of work that you enjoy to do and of the subjects and areas that you want to work in. Try not to get hung up on comparison or what seems to be the current trend, keep working with what ignites your spark, use this to create ranges of scenes/narratives and clients will see your passion and the jobs that interest you should follow. 

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be doing?

I currently work part time in a library which I have done for over 10 years now, it’s lovely to be able to see how excited children get over borrowing new books! However, If I wasn’t illustrating I would want to be working with animals, outside in nature, something where I could hear the birds and get my hands in the earth!

Are there any children’s classics you’d love to illustrate and/or re-tell?

As many versions of this as there are already I've always dreamt of illustrating The Wind in the Willows or maybe The Secret Garden!

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