How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?
I have always wanted to be a picture book illustrator ever since I was captured by the illustrations and stories I saw in my first picture books as a child. Illustrating has always been my happy place and recently upon seeing the joy my card illustrations brought to both children and parents at art markets, I realised that my dream was possible and I decided to pursue it. Seeing the smiles and excitement my illustrations brought was incredibly fulfilling and I wanted to find avenues to share that joy on a broader scale.
Have you always loved to draw?
Absolutely, when I was little I used to go to the library and take an armful of how to draw books home. I loved opening up all the books and learning different techniques. I felt so much joy sitting there for hours drawing different animals and people and admiring the skill of the artists. I spent the majority of my time as a child either drawing or admiring drawings.
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
Calvin and Hobbes. I must have read those books a million times each. I would sometimes just open the books and admire the illustrations. The beautiful watercolors and the cozy feel. I loved the snowy illustrations and the beautiful fall leaves. The illustrations of the woods and nature just always captured and inspired me.
Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?
I loved picture books from my childhood and one of my favorites was "Have You Ever Seen a Moose Take A Bath" by Jamie McClaine. I also remember fondly "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" by Laura Numeroff and the others in that series. I browsed the isle of children's books recently at my local bookstore and the book "Knight Owl" by Christopher Denise grabbed my attention. I thought it was so clever and adorable and the illustrations were beautiful.
Do you keep a sketch book?
I do keep a sketchbook! I love to take a few minutes doodling animals or people in different poses to keep in practice and to have some fun. I find myself picturing different stories for the animals and it just sparks creativity.
Share your favourite piece of artwork from your portfolio and walk us through its creation.
My favorite piece was a surprise party spread. I had an image in my head of a fox happening upon a surprise party and then having a birthday in the woods with friends, cake, and presents. I started with a sketch of the table and cake. I then sketched out the placement of all the animals and background. It was so exciting to see each of the foxes friends appear as I drew each one. Once I was happy with the sketch I built up layers of watercolors until I was happy with the vibrancy. As a finishing touch, I outlined some parts with Prismacolor pencils. I then scanned both and added the surprise bubble in Procreate. I loved painting this piece as it was so lively, vibrant and celebratory.
Do you have a favourite soundtrack you listen to when you’re working?
It depends on the day and my mood, but the majority of the time I will listen to 80s music or other days I will listen to slow indie music or rock music. I love to sing along to it while I draw and it makes for a relaxing and fun time.
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
My first commission was a birthday card a mother had wanted for her son. She had come to an art market and loved the illustrated penguin cards as her son loved penguins, but she wanted something specific. So she commissioned a card that showed her and her son as penguins. It was an absolute joy painting something so sentimental.
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
My latest illustration was a commissioned painting of a mule. I was provided with images of mules the client had seen on a recent trip. I started off choosing the image of a mule that had the body pose I liked best and then I chose an image of an expression and head pose I liked best. I then measured out the area I wanted to paint and started with a basic sketch. After I was happy with the sketch I built up layers of watercolor until It was the colour that best matched the images. I then finished off the painting with a slight outline in Prismacolor to add definition.