Illustrator Interview: Lucy Fleming

PROFESSIONAL BIO: 
Lucy Fleming is a UK based illustrator from Warwickshire with a first class degree in Illustration from the University of Lincoln. Her passion for drawing and painting lead her to persue a career as a freelance illustrator, specialising in children’s book illustration, greetings card design, pattern and packaging design.

She is extremely dedicated to her dream of working in children’s books, she would love to break into this highly competative area of illustration.

Lucy is a driven and passionate individual with a soft spot for Earl Grey tea and all things creative.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I was very passionate about art from an early age and decided to follow Illustration as a career when still at school, resulting in researching and studying illustration further at the University of Lincoln. I soon learned that it was children’s books I wanted to be involved in and what a wonderful world children’s publishing is to be a part of. I decided to apply for an Illustration Agency (the Bright Group International). They were so supportive of my work and were keen to help me improve and start me on my journey as a professional illustrator.

2) Describe your illustration style
I like to think of my style as contemporary yet whimsical whilst still being fun and colourful. I try to create characters with lots of energy.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I had always thought that any artistic career would be very difficult to break into let alone to make a living from it. It wasn’t until I started studying Illustration at University I realised it could be a career rather than a hobby. I was surprised at the support and positive attitude toward Illustration, as a career, I found from my peers.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career?
I have been greatly inspired by so many artists and illustrators, some of my favourites being Jonny Duddle and Benji Davies, although I don’t try to recreate what they do, I am in awe of their great success with children’s picture books.

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 feel it is best to read and re-read what the client is asking for and understand what they are trying to create. It is best to communicate well, to be polite and not to be afraid to ask questions if unsure or have a new idea. Some times it is appropriate to approach the illustrations with a sense of humour to give them some personality and flare. However, some clients are very specific and already have a clear cut idea of what they want. To best portray emotions I ensure the faces of my characters are  appealing and simple for children to understand. It is best to have the characters face almost forward facing and not at an obscure angle so the expression is clear. It is also a good idea to portray characters in motion to help enhance the scene.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done
I have found that some of the most rewarding work I have done has been for educational workbooks as it gives me the freedom to be contemporary and silly within my work whilst still conveying important morals. I would love to branch out into other areas of children’s publishing as I further my career, and hope one day to author as well as illustrate a children’s book.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
To any aspiring illustrators I would advise to just keep drawing no matter what! It can be very disheartening when you go through lots of agencies and publishers and can’t find work. You can’t expect to fly into the industry straight away and suddenly be publishing picture books left, right and centre. There are lots of bridges to build with publishers and clients, and you have to prove yourself reputable and get your name known. An illustration career can be very difficult to build, but with a lot of hard work and passion, it can be very gratifying.

8) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
The images I have submitted show a range of styles. They are all sample pieces either requested by clients, or for my agency to send out to prospective clients. These are all pieces from my portfolio which displays the range of work aspiring illustrators should aim for in the portfolio they put together.

Should you wish to know more about Lucy Fleming, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Lucy Fleming Illustrations
Lucy’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Magdalena Zuljevic

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Profile Pic - Magdelena Zuljevic
Born and raised in Croatia, Magdalena (also known as Magi) studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, earning a BFA in Art education. After experimenting with sculpting and oil painting she decided that illustration was her true calling. Magdalena now specializes in illustrating for the children’s market, with her work in digital media.  She currently lives in Sunnyvale, CA. See what she is up to at her blog.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books?
When I was growing up, two ways I entertained myself were playing outside or drawing pictures from my brother’s comic books.  After studying art and moving to the Silicon Valley I continued painting in oils, but discovered having kids around a fresh, wet canvas wasn’t a good idea. Being surrounded with computers, Photoshop came in handy and canvas and brush were substituted with a Wacom Tablet. Reading picture books to my children gave me the idea that I could illustrate children’s books too. I was lucky enough to have a few friends that happened to be writers with whom I worked on creating one.

2) Describe your illustration style.
It took years for my style to form and it is still changing. Contrast of light and colours make my scenes alive, movements and expressions come to life. There’s often subtle humor hidden in the page.

3) When did you realise you could make a living off your talent?
I’m not there yet. I have to thank my husband for supporting me all these years and believing in me. I think you can call it unconditional love.

4) Who are the biggest influences in your artistic career?
When I was a kid my biggest influence was my talented cousin that would often challenge and motivate me. Other inspirations were comic books, Michelangelo’s paintings and a slew of artists I can’t recall at this point.

5) When collaborating with an author, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
We work together from the very beginning. We see each other on a weekly basis and talk it through. I like to understand how they imagine the scene by hearing it from them, rather than trying to interpret it from their text. Often their visualization will trigger ideas for how I should set up the piece.

6) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
Usually my latest drawing is the one I’m proudest of and that lasts until the next piece is done. I think this happens because ones style is constantly changing and evolving. I notice if I don’t draw for some time I lose progress in my evolution. Two steps forward, one step back.

7) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators of children’s picture books?
Draw, every day, even for a half an hour. Without persistence you won’t improve substantially. Second, learn to motivate yourself in a positive way, you’re only going to get better the longer you go at it. Analyse others work but don’t get discouraged if they’re skill seems unattainable; the objective is to learn from them. See them as teacher, not competitors. You do not need to draw like somebody else; your style is like your fingerprint.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!

Here are some of Magi’s beautiful illustrations. Both illustrations are from her last book Why is the Moon Following Me? They represent Galileo being taken and prosecuted by Inquisition.

 Pic 2 - Magdelena Zuljevic

Pic 1 - Magdelena Zuljevic

Should you wish to know more about Magdalena Zuljevic, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Pencil Fairy
Blog: www.magiart.blogspot.com
Book: Why is The Moon Following Me?
Magi’s social media connections:

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