I grew up in the north of Italy devouring books, drawing on the kitchen walls of my parents’ house and imagining animals could talk to me and become my friends. Now I spend my days creating visual worlds and truly enjoying every minute of it.
In particular, my favourite part of the illustration process is the moment I stumble upon things in a text that weren’t there before (or maybe they were just hiding between a comma and an exclamation mark). Or the minute I run into the right colour palette for a story. That’s when the world begins to really come to life. Oh, and did I mention bumping into funny (and furry!) characters in amusing stories? That really makes my day.
So far, I had the pleasure to work with amazing clients creating work for picture books, educational publications, digital apps as well as editorial work.
1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
It took me a very long time to understand that I wanted to become an illustrator.
Before that, I was very unsatisfied and miserable in my professional life. Waking up on Mondays was a real struggle. I was working as a video editor and I was surrounded by people who were truly passionated about their work. I wasn’t and I was feeling incredibly guilty about it… this made me revaluate a few things. I decided that life was too short to feel like that every day. It took me a while to gather enough courage to quit my job and enrol in a 2 years Illustration course. The hardest thing was to communicate my decision to everybody I knew. I was so afraid they thought I was going nuts.
Now I’ve been doing this job for three years and so I’m grateful I made that decision. I don’t fear Mondays anymore, I love going to work and I feel fulfilled from my job. So far I’ve managed to make a living out of this profession but I must admit life as a freelance illustrator is neither economically easy or stable. However, with lots of hard work and dedication I will hopefully manage to achieve a perfect life\work balance… at least that’s the dream!
2) Describe your illustration style
My illustrations usually involve cartoony characters such as children and animals. Trees, forests and open spaces are another recurrent element too. I tent to use slightly muted colours but sometimes they leave space to more bright ones. I like to use textured lines to give a traditional feeling to my digital images.
3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I firmly believe I wouldn’t have gotten into illustration if I had stayed in Italy, where I was born. Once a country where beauty and art were at the highest standards, now unfortunately it’s not a place where people can easily live doing a job such as illustration… plenty of people don’t even consider that as a real profession and I was one of them. Moving to Australia, changing my point of view of the world and opening my life to a brand new way of living and thinking, changed me radically. What now seems obvious, it was before deeply buried under standards and criteria that needed to be met. Once in Australia, I gradually detached from that mindset and realised life should be pursued doing something you like so much that you would be happy to do it for free. I also realised that living out of illustration was a real possibility and there were lots of people doing that full time earning real money with their artistic skills. Once I got that, I immediately started to plan how I could be one of those people!
4) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
I don’t think I have one single piece of work that I’m particularly proud about. For me, I think it’s when I receive the advanced copies of the latest project I’ve completed. Seeing the work I’ve done within a finished product is always very satisfying and always makes me incredibly happy and proud.
5) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Regarding starting out, my first tip for someone that is about to get out of college is to not wait until you finished college to promote yourself or find the first commissions. An art degree doesn’t make any different in the illustration world, so my advice is to start now, immediately, do not wait any more time to actively start behaving like an illustrator and look for work, commissions and possible clients to contact.
I would highly recommend you to get a proper professional website (behance is good to share stuff with other peers, but not so much as a professional window for your work to show to a client). Having one helped me enormously. Then you could start emailing the clients you would like to work with. A nice brief email introducing yourself with a link to your new shiny website will do. Most of them might not reply but some will do! And those might become your first clients…
Also, please don’t give up. Just don’t. Because that’s the key to success.
6) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Cover illustration for the book If An Armadillo Went To A Restaurant written by Ellen Fisher and publisher by Scarletta Press
The farm house. Self-promotional piece.
The magic baby. Self-promotional piece.
An illustration from The Three Bears And Goldilocks story-app.
Should you wish to know more about Laura Wood, here are her pertinent details.
Website: Laura Wood Illustration
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