I have always had an absolute passion for creating things. When I was little, I loved knitting, sewing, building stuff, dancing - anything that would carry me and my friends off into a more exciting imaginary world. Nothing much has changed. Now I spend most of my days doing just that through my adventures in illustration. And my tap-shoes still get an airing every so often.
My job is to enhance a project through images. A new brief sparks my imagination straight away. It flits off on a tangent to begin with, darting in various directions. The real skill is having the know how to reign in your thoughts and simplify them without losing the nitty-gritty. I sketch, scan, use Google, look through books, take photographs, store information for later projects. I stand back from my work to see what I’ve done. Take a break, preferably with a nice big cream cake, then look at my ideas with fresh eyes. I then take things out, put things in, flip it to see it from a different perspective. Adobe Illustrator affords me the privilege of moving things around to get the best possible image. I’ve worked with vector graphics for a long time now.
I love drawing anything. The hardest thing I have ever had to draw was an anteater. They are peculiar creatures. This was before Google, so all I had was one black and white photocopy as reference.
I get to draw some pretty outrageous things such as:
Having the opportunity to work on Atlas of Oddities was fantastic. This children’s book unveils so much fun and absurdity in our world, a dream job for any illustrator. I wanted to make sure I did each fact justice. I’m a stickler for attention to detail. Hopefully I captured each fact in the book well. It was an absolute labour of love.
I adore illustrated children's books, especially funny non-fiction with hidden jokes and unpredictable twists that use humour to make them more memorable. Luckily for me, reading kids books and appreciating other illustrators can count as part of my research.
The Illustration is so important. After all Lewis Carol summed it up in the first paragraph of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ ..."and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?'
We know that reading books to children from a very early age is vital, not just in the obvious way of teaching them to read the words, but by instilling a love of learning and fostering their curiosity. We all enjoy a laugh and carers who take the time to read to children should be rewarded with a cheeky joke now and again. But humour also has a serious side. Psychological research shows it helps us to learn and remember. And a book that is funny enough to appeal to adults will be read to children more often.
Humour crosses the age divide. TV’s ‘The Simpsons,’ pulls this off time and again. And it is done so well in the books I re-read to my children. Knowledge, and being able to see clearly how the world works so as to make informed choices comes through reading and, to become a habit, reading needs to start early. Humour using both words and pictures encourages young children to enjoy books and so plays a small part in forming the decision-makers of the future. Instilling new, modern values in children via books could help them as they face the world’s issues of tomorrow.
Encouraging your child to read is the ultimate gift. It is life changing. Oh, and the odd picture here and there helps too. Just saying… as an illustrator.