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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Author Interview: Corine Dehghanpisheh

BUDDY’S DREAM BY CORINE DEHGHANPISHEH Buddy's Dream by Corine Dehghanpisheh

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s picture book is about
Buddy’s Dream is about a dog’s dream.  A dog named Buddy falls asleep during story time.  With just one wish, he and his butterfly friends are suddenly swept into an exciting tablet adventure.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I have a mischievous Shih Tzu dog named Buddy.  He is the inspiration for the dog in my children’s books.  I also enjoyed creating my first children’s book, Can We Play Again?  So I decided to create a second one.

3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
The title reflects the storyline.  The book is about Buddy’s dream and the adventure his imagination takes him on.

4) Why did you pick this genre?
It was an easy choice.  I love that children’s books can be playful and educational at the same time.  I enjoy seeing and knowing that while children are reading, they are learning and having fun at the same time.

Also, I love to write, draw, and create which has added to my desire to write and illustrate children’s books.

5) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
The illustrations are very important to my book. They help convey the details of Buddy’s journey such as the map and path he followed, as well as the other animal characters involved in the story.

6) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
I loved to read any book as a child.   I couldn’t get enough.  There were always books hidden under my bed with a flashlight so that I could continue reading after my bedtime.  As a child, I really loved to read Laura Ingalls Wilder books, the Little House Series.  I read her books over and over again.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Watching children enjoy the books that I have written and illustrated.  I also love the opportunity to answer their questions and to talk with the children after they have read my books.  They always have the most interesting perceptions.

8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
While they read my book, I hope they have fun going along with Buddy on his journey.  I also hope it helps the children to dream and create their own fun adventures.

9) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
I don’t have one favourite adult author as I enjoy reading a variety of genres such as autobiographies, historical books, light-hearted, feel good fiction, as well as children’s books.

10) What are you working on now?
I recently had a baby girl and have taken some time off to be with her.  I am slowly getting back to working on a quirky, children’s books written from the perspective of parents and a child.

Should you wish to know more about Corine Dehghanpisheh and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Corine Dehghanpisheh
Where to purchase her book: Amazon and My Art To Inspire
Corine’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Lucy Fleming

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.


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
Book: Why is The Moon Following Me?
Magi’s social media connections:

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