Illustrator Interview: Deborah Eve Alastra

Deborah Eve Alastra

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Painter of many years, now also writing and illustrating children’s books, with two bilingual picture books recently published by Zebra Ginkgo Group.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I am a painter of 35 yrs., ten yrs. ago I began illustrating watercolor illustrations for authors and several publishers. Three years ago I began writing and illustrating my own stories. I’ve written and illustrated eight books, two are published thus far, listed above.

2) Describe your illustration style
I hand render in mixed media, still primarily watercolor and digitally edit my illustrations and book covers. My characters are described as animated and full of whimsy and emotion. I am very involved with rich color, but with an earthy feel, as in my paintings.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I began illustrating children’s books I and promoted my work via SCBWI and online, I found my portfolios attracted queries from authors and several publishers. Though sporatic, the freedom to negotiate timelines gives me time needed to also work on my own painting and children’s books.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
Chagall, Klee, Miro, Van Gogh, Monet, Bonnard- in the children’s book arena Sendak is my favorite along with Shel Silverstein.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
I work closely with the author to understand the ‘look’ and specifics they are hoping for and do my best to meet their expectations. I always offer my own ideas for the illustration if they are not clear what they want, and I send pencil proofs with a willingness to edit at the proofing stage.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
I’ve completed a book ‘Jupiter Doesn’t Listen’, yet to be published but very stimulating I think. In addition I’ve written and illustrated a longer story for older children, ‘There’s a Monster in the Ocean’- this environmental adventure is currently being pitched by a Director of animation to producers for a potential animated film. I am very pleased with both of these and hope they will also be published as books.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Find an agent, something I’ve yet to do!!

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted

This is a sample from ‘Jupiter Doesn’t Listen’ a comical story also professionally translated into Spanish, for 5-7 yr. olds. Jupiter, a budding 6 yr. old artist, son of ‘alternative parents’ products of the 60s, whose habit of not listening to grown ups gets himself along with his brother Mars and pug dog Buddha, into some very comical mishaps in the city of Portland, culminating with a trip down to the police station.

Jupiter Doesn’t Listen

The second two samples are from ‘Purple With Stripes’, is a picture book involving a purple striped elephant Ely, who doesn’t want to begin pre-school, afraid the other kids will make fun of his unusual stripes. The other animal students in fact do mock Ely, but in the end all learn that though all different we are truly all equal and the same.

 Purple With Stripes

Purple With Stripes 2

Should you wish to know more about Deborah Eve Alastra, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Deborah Eve Alastra
Deborah’s social media connections:

 

Illustrator Interview: Ron Monnier

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Ron Monnier
It’s my belief that if you love your work, you’ll love your life. Art, not only is my profession, it flows through my veins.

My name is Ron Monnier and I knew that I wanted to be an illustrator from age 7.

I love to create intrigue. There’s nothing better than mystery in a piece of work to entice the reader further.

After I graduated from art college, my first dip into the art pool was in a typesetting firm. I was the only artist illustrating for press advertisements and packaging assignments. After that I worked in art studios, then progressing to advertising agencies – and finally to my own studio where I could concentrate mainly on illustration.

I have been illustrating for a number of years for magazines like TIME, Rolling Stone, The Bulletin with Newsweek and Reader’s Digest plus various publishers such as Pan Macmillan. And I also illustrated 2 and quarter pages in Lürzer’s Archive 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide – an international publication for art buyers. I also illustrate and produce eBooks for the Government’s Education Department. I have two children’s picture iBooks out, ( The octopus in the tree and Mr Ringdingle’s greatest feet!) and a children’s alphabet app called Bendy Chicken on iTunes.

I love to hoard bits and pieces of ephemera and my technique is to use an unusual mix of textures, collage and hand-painted images and throw them all into the blender. However, the most essential ingredient is a good idea. It’s important to me that my illustrations tell a story.

Work includes: portraits and caricatures (editorial/political), children’s literature, fine art, toys and games. Artistic styles: mixed media (watercolour, acrylic, pencil, collage, ephemera and digital).

My heart opens to picture book assignments whether they be print or digital.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works? 
I’ve always loved children’s literature and picture books. I do a lot of illustration work for the Education Department and collaborate with writers all the time. Plus, I like to write stories myself. With every illustration I do, I start with a story in my head. Children’s picture books can be so free and also intriguing. I love to make the pages exciting for kids and parents, so that they can discover different things. I add visual metaphors that aren’t necessarily in the story, to enhance the text.

2) Describe your illustration style
My style is an eclectic mix of collage, drawing, painting and digital illustration. I often draw on iconic images in popular culture and juxtapose them into a unique situation. Every illustration has an idea, which intends to create intrigue for the reader. I love ephemera – beautiful pieces of printed flotsam and jetsam that I find and can repurpose into something new.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I had been working in multi-national advertising agencies for years as an art director and creative director, but I always loved the visual component.  So I decided to work for myself doing graphic design and hunting for as much illustration as I could get. My first project was an editorial illustration
for a national magazine called The Bulletin. And from there I got more and more work from national magazines like TIME, Rolling Stone, FHM, Child magazine, Family Circle and more.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
Salvador Dali, Monty Python – Terry Gilliam’s animation, Matisse, Gary Baseman, Clayton Brothers, DADA movement and many more.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
This is the best and also the hardest part of the process. I read and reread the brief and then think of a visual metaphor that best sums up the message they are trying to convey. Most clients give me a free rein to explore the proposal. I research the subject if I don’t have enough information and I then do a series of pencil sketches to work out the idea. When I start to smile when sketching, I know that I have the answer. I then scan and email to the client with a brief explanation, although the rough sketch usually does that.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I will never forget the heart pounding moment when I got the call from TIME magazine saying that they wanted me to do a cover for them. It was a story about parents who harassed teachers on a daily basis about their children’s progress at school. I came up with an idea – “Teachers’ Pests” and illustrated a scene where the parents were literally “pesty” ants trying to white ant their way to the teacher. The art director was very happy with end result and subsequently I received a brief a few months later for another cover!

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Look at as much visual stimulus as you can. Soak it up. Eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Explore the internet and real world and see what people are saying and doing. Don’t copy, but be inspired. Looking at imagery from around the world – it will get you excited. You will start to think of your own ideas and ways to portray them. Stay informed with trends but don’t follow them, start them! Always, always, keep a notebook or sketchbook close by. Write down ideas when they come to you. There’s nothing more jubilant when you go through your notes later and see an idea you had forgotten about. Who knows when you may be able to use it for real!

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted

This was an editorial illustration for a national Child magazine to enhance a story about how children these days aren’t going to parks anymore. The brief was to capture the sadness of the empty parks, which were normally places of fun for children.

Park

This brief was to design and illustrate a free app for children to teach them the alphabet in a unique and interactive way. It was asked not to use the clichéd imagery of ‘A’ is for apple, but to use more challenging illustrations that the reader could decipher.
Bendy Chicken alphabet is FREE on the App Sore for iPad.

Bendy Chicken

The brief was written by the author of The Octopus in the tree.
A picture iBook for children 2 to 10. This is published in the iBooks Store for iPad.
This brief was to illustrate a rhyming book about a little girl who discovers an octopus in her tree. The illustrations are drawn in a way to intrigue the young reader. I have included many collage and drawn elements to add diverse layers to the story.

The Octopus in the tree

The brief was written by the author of Mr Ringdingle’s greatest feet!
A picture iBook for children 2 to 10.
This is published in the iBooks Store for iPad.
This brief was to illustrate a rhyming book about a strange little character named Mr Ringdingle. He has one leg and it’s a story about him going shoe shopping and the magical things that occur when he goes to buy shoes.

Mr Ringdingle

Should you wish to know more about Ron Monnier, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Ron Monnier

Illustrator Interview: Shane McGowan

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Shane McGowan
Shane McGowan is an illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. He has an extensive global client base in the editorial, design and advertising fields. He also loves writing and illustrating picture books which are published traditionally and as e-books. He is always looking to work on new and interesting commissions, no matter how big or small.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I’d been working as a freelance illustrator in the editorial field for about 10 years before I worked up the courage to write and illustrate my first picture book. Needless to say it was complete rubbish and never saw the light of day thankfully. The next two were just as bad. But eventually I got the hang of it, largely because I was inspired by our 4 year old daughter at the time. Seems when you look through a child’s eyes then all becomes clear.

2) Describe your illustration style.
My style is colourful and quirky I guess. I prefer bold and loud images with a touch of retro. I treat a picture book like a little movie. Characters and sets and costumes all come together slowly in whatever particular little world the book is set. I become quite attached to the characters, especially if it’s a series.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I kind of fell into the freelance life. When I left college I was lugging my folio around to design agencies and publishers in the hope that I’d get myself a permanent job somewhere. Instead I kept getting commissioned to do book jackets, educational books and editorial pieces and it just went from there. The illustration world has changed dramatically in the few decades I have been working. As Illustrators we have to constantly challenge ourselves and be looking for new ways to market ourselves and new avenues to earn a crust. It’s exciting but can be daunting and frightening too.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
I’ve always loved pop artists like Andy Warhol, abstract expressionists like Rothko and De Kooning, British painters like Fiona Rae and Bridget Riley. As for illustrators there are many, Anne Howeson, Robert Mason, Simon Bartram, Lane Smith, Jeff Fisher, Luc Melanson…too many to mention. I believe anyone who can make a living being a visual artist is pretty damn special.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
I read the brief/text over and over. I’ll always ask questions if I’m unsure. Collaboration is about listening and combining ideas. I always do a few character sketches first off to see if I’m heading in the right direction. I’m willing to take on board changes because generally you get something better at the end of it. Two heads are better than one. When I read a text it takes a little while for pictures to emerge in my head, and then I have to jot down plenty of images before they really take shape. I sketch in pencil for the dummy, scan the images and muck around with placement on my computer.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
I’m proud of every book that I do. Getting the printed copies in the mail is always a buzz. But probably the first is always the most special. I both wrote and illustrated it and it was based on my daughter’s wilful inability to brush her hair when she was 4. The designer was a guy called Mike Jolly at Templar in the UK and he was a dream to work with. It was the most pleasurable and exciting experience the whole way through.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Have a passion for what you do. Enjoy the journey. Be nice to people. Listen to constructive criticism but always follow your heart, not your head. Draw all the time. Practice and practice. Be inspired but don’t plagiarize. Don’t be hung up on finding a ‘style’ that’ll come organically. Make sure your website is the best it can be. Don’t sell yourself short, if a client offers you peanuts then tell ‘em very politely ‘Tempting, but no!’

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Spooky Bats Campfire – An image for ‘Ten Spooky Bats’ by Ed Allen and published by Scholastic Australia. They stressed that they didn’t actually want the book to be very spooky so this is about as scary as it got- a spooky story round a camp fire. My original sketches had lots of ghosts and witches and monsters throughout but they insisted on having the bats in everyday situations. Sigh.

Spooky Bats Campfire

Robot Pet Shop. An image for ‘Robot’s Pet’ by Nigel Gray and published by Koala Books. I never turn down a book where robots are involved.

Robot Pet Shop

Gingerbread Man. This image was originally a personal piece for my folio but it’s now available as tee shirts and greeting cards and all manner of things from my shop at Red Bubble

Gingerbread Man

Happy Birthday (Malvern Star). A birthday card, I‘m probably showing my age but this is the bike I rode around on when I was a kid.

Happy Birthday (Malvern Star)

Should you wish to know more about Shane McGowan, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Shane McGowan
Shane’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Anna Lloyd

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Anna Lloyd
Anna Lloyd has enjoyed drawing and painting since she was very young. She spent many a lunch hour with her friends in the art room at school. She also has a university degree in Design, majoring in Illustration. One of her tutors at University was illustrator Tony Oliver.

Anna Lloyd is an illustrator based in Sydney, Australia. Anna is a versatile illustrator who works in a wide range of mediums and styles. Her work includes whimsical illustrations in pen and ink, watercolour, pencil and acrylic paint as well as mixed media paper projects.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
An Author found my website portfolio, liked my style of illustration and asked me to contact her publisher.

2) Describe your illustration style.
My illustration style is fun and colourful using a mixture of mediums including, watercolours, pens, ink, pencils and acrylic paints. I am happiest illustrating animals, but I like to mix it up a bit.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I really enjoyed reading and looking at artwork in children’s books and other forms of art when I was a child. I immersed myself in art books throughout high school and my parents took me to a lot of art galleries.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
The people who encouraged me in art as a child were my biggest influencers, my grandparents, parents, art teachers, tutors and friends. Now I am influenced by other artists and the artwork I admire.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray? 
I read the text then look for a whole lot of reference material that will support the work and start sketching. Once I have finished a page or several pages I send them through for approval.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I don’t think I have made it yet… Aren’t we all striving for the next work to be better than the last?

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Work really hard, practise and live and breathe your work.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
This is an illustration of a little Vietnamese boy running with a kite. With this one I was hoping to convey the freedom of being a child. Watercolour and pencil illustration.

little Vietnamese boy running with a kite

An illustration of a girl with a shell in her hair. This is a fun little illustration in black ink and watercolour paint.

a girl with a shell in her hair

Two beautiful native Australian owls sitting on a tree, illustrated with markers and coloured pencils.

Two beautiful native Australian owls sitting on a tree

Should you wish to know more about Anna Lloyd, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Anna Lloyd
Anna’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Alex Crump

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Alex Crump
I was born and raised in Winchester, Hampshire.  After spending some time in London, I later moved to Wiltshire, where I live with my young family.

I have always enjoyed painting and drawing and I am passionate about illustration.  During my career as a teacher, I have often used my art in teaching to illustrate stories and poems with my classes.

My inspiration comes from a love of books and poetry and my work is influenced by a wide variety of different authors and poets, primarily children’s authors.  My style is typically using bright and bold colours to portray humanistic animals and characters from well-known tales.  I also enjoy sketching caricatures of pets and other animals.

I like to work in many different mediums including acrylic, pen, ink and coloured pencils, I have also successfully created work to order using programs like ‘Sketchbook Pro’ on the computer.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I joined a local art group who exhibited my work in their shop and on their webspace, through attending various exhibitions and shows I got my work seen by lots of people and then I was contacted directly by companies and people to produce work for them.

2) Describe your illustration style
Traditional with a twist (I like to call it a ‘twinkle in the eye’)

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I knew art was something I had to do not just what I wanted to do…

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
Axel Scheffler, Quentin Blake, Jim Henson

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
I love stories, I really want to know not just what the story is but where it comes from. Stories are very special and personal so I like to build up a relationship where we can cooperate and develop a common direction. When creating work for a client different from stories I like to have a clear instruction about what they envisage the completed work to look like and then have the chance to share ideas from a very clear brief.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
My heart says the first Noah’s ark picture I created for my first child’s bedroom before she was born, my bank manager says the Christmas calendar I created for a multinational oil company!

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Never give up, believe in your work and get it seen by as many people as possible. Take your work seriously (but never yourself).

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Old MacDonald – An illustration of a few of the farmyard animals from the song.

Old MacDonald

Fairy Glade – A development of the back story of Disney’s “Maleficent”

Fairy Glade

The Owl and the Pussycat – My take on a part of the nonsense rhyme by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussycat

Noah’s Ark – One of my favourite/most popular subjects with scope for different animals according to the client.

Noah’s Ark

 

Should you wish to know more about Alex Crump, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Alex Crump
Alex’s’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Michelle Commandeur

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Michelle Commandeur
Michelle Commandeur ​was a keen cartoonist through school and uni, then got distracted by other things, and has been for the last 15 years busily working in the NGO and corporate worlds.

Over the years she has been commissioned for various illustration work both as a hobby and paid sideline. She has produced myriad works for friends, clubs and associates, as well as illustrating promotional material for two popular Australian science museums and designing cartoons for a number of commercial clients.

Last year various circumstances led her to pick up her illustration again. She has rediscovered a love of cartooning and graphic illustration.

Michelle’s focus is caricature, children’s book illustration and gag/political cartoons.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I always enjoyed cartooning and illustration, but got distracted by my corporate career and was not doing much of it! A couple of years ago I had to take some time off work for health reasons, and decided to muddle around with it again. I quickly got some great little projects to work on, and decided I would never let myself be distracted again! Now I run a part-time cartooning/illustration business, while still keeping one foot in the corporate world.

2) Describe your illustration style
Cartoon/caricature, bold colours and ironic themes. Lots of dogs.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I listed some of my work online and a few calls started coming in from people who had seen it. Also when I saw how much my work brought joy to people, I realised it was something I could do that was, in a small way, unique and meaningful.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
I love political/editorial cartoonists, John Stoneham (Stonie) was the staff cartoonist at the Adelaide News when I was growing up, and I used to cut out his cartoons from the paper and wish I could draw like him. Nowadays I draw inspiration from a large range of people and wish I could draw like all of them!

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
Have a chat, try to get an understanding of the content and what they are looking for – you often settle on the style together as it starts to take shape. I always want to make sure my client is happy with the work, so give them lots of opportunities to review/comment and make suggestions as I work through sketches to final art.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
Illustrating a book of limericks for kids, written by my mum! These pictures were completed when I was quite unwell, and helped get me through some tough times. The primary audience was my two lovely nieces – I hope the book stays special to them as they grow up, and reminds them of their Nanna and Aunty Shell.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
I am still an aspiring illustrator myself! I guess the thing I would pass on is the value of continually practicing your art. I am amazed at how much you can improve when you are drawing often and discovering new techniques.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Moose & Goose –  a work in progress with the author Leah Witton. I love the premise of two very unlikely friends going through life together and supporting each other through the good, bad and hilarious times!

Moose & Goose

Lic Lic’s Limericks for You – Lic Lic was our family pet when I was growing up, and makes an appearance in all of the limerick illustrations. This is one of my first completed limerick illustrations and for some reason I am very fond of it.

Lic Lic’s Limericks for You

Pevan & Sarah – Bringing the wonderful talents of Pevan & Sarah to life in cartoon characters for their website and materials.

Pevan & Sarah

Everybody loves ice-cream – this is based on real characters. It’s hard to be grumpy or menacing when you are enjoying an icecream cone. Lovely stuff.

Everybody loves ice-cream

Should you wish to know more about Michelle Commandeur, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Michelle Commandeur
Michelle’s social media connections:

Illustrator Interview: Alyssa Coombs

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Alyssa Coombs
Alyssa Coombs has spent most of her working life based in Melbourne (Australia) and has worked with a wide range of clients, on a wide range of design and illustration projects. She studied graphic design at university, finishing her degree with honours. She has always enjoyed creative pursuits, and is very dedicated to both her work and her computer. She also really likes cheese and coffee.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I studied graphic design at university, and now work as a graphic designer and illustrator. I always enjoyed drawing and colouring as a kid, and creative subjects were my favourite in high school, it was inevitable that illustration would become a large part of my design work, since it was something I had always enjoyed. As a graphic designer my favourite design projects are ones that require use of both my illustration and my design skills.

2) Describe your illustration style.
I would describe my illustration style as playful and bold, with a hint of whimsy and nostalgia. A large proportion of my illustration work is vector based, so Adobe Illustrator is my closest creative friend!

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
Ever since I started studying design at university I knew that I wanted to make a living from my creative skills, and I never really doubted that I would.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
In terms of illustrators/designers whose work I admire, to name just a few, my list would include Paul Rand, Eric Carle, Charley Harper, Marc Boutavant, Ayumi and Aaron Piland.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
Asking as many questions as possible before starting a project is the key to getting a good understanding of the message that needs to be conveyed. Providing concept illustrations/roughs, and getting ongoing feedback from a client/author as a project progresses is always best, in order to make sure the project is heading in the right direction.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I wrote and illustrated a book titled Frances Learns About Diabetes a few years back, and it has since been sponsored/printed in multiple countries around the world, I would like to think it has helped many children who have been diagnosed and are living with type 1 diabetes.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
I would advise any aspiring creative individual to persist, take creative inspiration from wherever they might find it, and not sell themselves short – getting paid to use your creative skills is a very fortunate thing, but use of your creative skills should be properly compensated.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted.

Illustration 1. Privately commissioned illustration for child’s room.

Child Eating Ice Cream
Illustration 2. Character concept illustrations for children’s book.

Kids Skipping

 

Should you wish to know more about Alyssa Coombs, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Alyssa  Coombs
Alyssa’s social media connections:

 

Illustrator Interview: Alex Mankiewicz

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Alex Mankiewicz
Alex Mankiewicz is an Australian based illustrator who has lived in Japan, France and the US. She began as a printmaker, a graphic essential approach that informs her illustrations. She also recognised by American Illustration. Clients include marketing, editorial, and scholastic publications. Current commissions: French WWI graphic novel tetralogy, and upcoming picture book series.

Alex’s words:
Pictures saturate our world. At times overwhelming, yet undeniably the most effective global communication currency. The task of the illustrator is to (quickly) create clever concise images that cut through the visual noise. To stand alone or to support text. Images must initially engage the target audience in whatever country or community they originate, but increasingly they also demand cross-cultural accessibility.

Style can adapt to content. To engage immediately, to make the viewer think and feel in a fresh unexpected way – hopefully to stay with them for some time after.

Illustration without an idea is decoration.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
Being mainly an editorial and narrative illustrator, I decided to do a picture book for my niece’s first child.  That work led to others in the field.

2) Describe your illustration style
Figurative, not quite ligne claire.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
Every time a commission comes in.  Freelance is an endless ‘what if’.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
Steig’s Sylvester and  the Magic Pebble for children’s books; European graphic tradition for adult work.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
Illustration complements text so it’s important to find the tone the author is using.  I also feel it’s important with children’s books to give the readers extra things to ‘find’ in the images, ones are still in keeping with the story, but usually add humour.  No matter how serious the subject, humour can offer a momentary respite and enhance the readers engagement with characters and tale.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
Whenever a work elicits a response from a reader that says it touched them or they could relate their own experience to the images, that is a reward.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Don’t worry too much about developing a particular recognisable style; each illustration has its own requirements.  Your natural touch will show through and unite your works, even with tailored approaches to each market/audience.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted

Wee Charles & the Strawberry Fairy, the second Wee Charles adventure.

Wee Charles & the Strawberry Fairy

Hans & Wolfgang: Hans, the sauerkraut loving cat, heads for a nap in the flowerbed.

Hans & Wolfgang

‘P is for Pigs Who Might Fly’ from Creature Clichés’, an alphabet bestiary

P is for Pigs Who Might Fly

Spot illustration of dogwalking.

Spot illustration of dogwalking

Should you wish to know more about Alex Mankiewicz, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Alex Mankiewicz
Alex’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Laura Wood

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Laura Wood Illustrator
My name is Laura Wood and I’m an independent illustrator living between Bristol, Melbourne and Milan and proudly represented by the lovely people at Good Illustration Agency.

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

If An Armadillo Went To A Restaurant

The farm house. Self-promotional piece.

The Farm House

The magic baby. Self-promotional piece.

The magic baby

An illustration from The Three Bears And Goldilocks story-app.

The Three Bears And Goldilocks

Should you wish to know more about Laura Wood, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Laura Wood Illustration
Laura’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Narelda Joy

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Illustrator Narelda Joy
Specialising in unique textural two and three dimensional illustrations, characters and models.

As an Illustrator I work in both traditional and digital mediums, and specialise in textural illustrations and collage, as well as unique three dimensional illustrations. I am passionate about Children’s Books. As a 3D artist I produce models from concept to 3D pieces, characters and puppets.

I also specialise in bespoke textile constructions, and am qualified in Fashion and Theatrical Millinery with Distinctions and 1st Place prizes in both courses.

I won the State Medal (highest marks in the state) for Design Cert IV in 2010. I was accepted in the prestigious NIDA Bachelor of Costume course in 2011 and received a High Distinction Average. In 2012 and 2013 I chose to return to the Design Centre, Enmore and study an Advanced Diploma in Design and Illustration Skills and I graduated with Distinction.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
Back in 2009 I was feeling unfulfilled in my job, and made the brave decision to leave full time work and return to full time study. I chose to pursue a career in Design and Illustration and I have never looked back! I have always loved Children’s Books and collect them for my own enjoyment. I can often be found sitting in the children’s section at the local library or bookstore! There is something magical about a book – being transported into another world through words and pictures. It is pure escapism.

2) Describe your illustration style
I specialise in unique Three Dimensional Illustration using many mediums. I also produce two dimensional textural images, collage, and detailed drawings. I work in both traditional and digital mediums. As well as my illustrations I make sculpted 3D models, hats, textile art, characters and puppets. I love creating anything!

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I started studying Illustration I had a wonderful teacher, Dee, who saw my three dimensional illustrations and told me that I would definitely get work in the industry, and that I could make a living from it. I had no idea that these work possibilities existed. I’m forever grateful to her for her guidance.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
I grew up with a wonderful creative mother who had a large sewing room full of all sorts of interesting bits and pieces. I was encouraged to be creative from an early age and had access to lots of different materials. I learnt to use a sewing machine at the age of 6, propped up on an old bread box so that I could reach the machine foot! I used to make models, collages and puppets from anything I could get my hands on. I’d sit out in the garden and draw the plants and animals. I was always creating and experimenting. Apart from my mum, my incredibly talented teachers have been instrumental in helping me on my journey.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
I have been blessed to work with clients who are great communicators. I will often ask questions about their initial brief to define what it is they are asking me to do, and check my interpretation of what they are looking for is correct. Roughs are a great way to see if I am heading in the right direction.

Some clients give me complete creative freedom which is lovely. Rowena Wiseman, the author of Aunty Arty and the disquieting muses, and Kim Muncgal, the editor, were wonderful in that they let me create the world Aunty Arty lived in. In this particular case, Rowena’s words were rich in descriptive text, and I could instantly visualise the world she described in the story.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
I have just completed my first illustration for The School Magazine. Unfortunately I can’t show you as it won’t be published until Issue 1, in February 2015.

I am thrilled to have been accepted onto their 2015 Illustrator list. This magazine has been published by the NSW Department of Education since 1916. I remember reading it as a child, and I know a lady in her 70’s who loved it as a child too, so I’m honoured to be able to contribute to it.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
My advice to aspiring illustrators is to keep practising your art, draw everyday, and pay attention to the wonderful things around you, large and small – inspiration is everywhere. Always carry a sketchbook and camera. Follow your heart and soul and believe in your ability to create.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Bark is one of my fun Three Dimensional Children’s Illustrations with the word bark spelt out in objects relating to the word bark– dog collars, a dog house, a dog and a tree!

Bark! by Narelda Joy

The Chimpanzee is one of my animal collages in paper and textiles.

The Chimpanzee by Narelda Joy

The rabbit outside his house is one of my textural digital illustrations.

The Rabbit by Narelda Joy

Aunty Arty is the cover of the soon to be released Children’s Book Aunty Arty and the disquieting Muses.

Aunty Arty by Narelda Joy

Should you wish to know more about Narelda Joy, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Narelda Joy
Book: Aunty Arty and the disquieting muses
Narelda’s social media connections:

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