Interview: Author Julia Richman

Julia Richman Interview

I chatted to Jules Richman about writing, her books and future projects. I have had the honour of illustrating two of Julia’s enchanting books and look forward to creating future stories with her.

Celeste: Hello Jules! Congratulations on your latest book ‘A Huddle of Hippos.’ Before we chat about it, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Jules: Thank you, Celeste! And thank you again for your fantastic illustrations – collective nouns have never been so exciting, vibrant and fun!

I’m Jules Richman. I live in the glorious Mother City (Cape Town) with my husband –  Tim, son – Nicholas, and cat – Katya. Nicholas is 18 months old and loves exploring and being outdoors, so I spend most of my time these days running after him making sure he doesn’t swallow a stone or pull out my pansies…

I love writing colourful stories for children and I also love art, interior design, flowers, food and wine! I am an animal lover and a sensitive soul, in search of kind, caring hearts.

Celeste: Your first book, Katya’s Hairy Tales: The Bacon Chase was published last year. What lead you to try out for children stories? Continue Reading

Interview with Michelle Ainslie – Online Writing Course

south african children books

Celeste: Hi Michelle! First of all, thanks so much for chatting to me. Can you just tell everyone a little about yourself to kick off?

Michelle: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me.  I am a freelance writer and have been in the publishing industry for over a decade now.  I have surrounded myself with authors and books and writing my whole life.  I have recently started to join my 3 passions which are writing, books and depression.  The last bit sounds weird, but you will be amazed at how many authors and creative people battle with depression on a daily basis.  So, as you will see in the image below, I have found ways to join my skills and interests into a really fantastic career.   Continue Reading

Interview with Caroline Pedler

Caroline Pedler

I have two sides to my creative personality.

Celeste: Hi Caroline, thanks so much for taking time out to chat to me today! I just love your work! I understand that you have done a lot of illustrations for children’s books over the years. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself and how you came into this industry?

Character Sketch from Little Bear's Big Jumper
Character Sketch from Little Bear’s Big Jumper

Caroline: Hey Celeste, Yeah thanks…. I was living at home in Cornwall after a disastrous gap year and bad health and worked on my illustration folio. I had a lucky break showing my folio to a card company in Bath and from there on in I started illustrating greeting cards for a company called Gordon Fraser, under the umbrella of Hallmark Cards in 1997. I worked for card companies for a couple of years, illustrating numerous ranges and making a living from that and bar work. I loved it. I was then offered my first children’s book around the same time, for Oxford University Press, and then another for Readers Digest in Bath. From one of the the first ever greeting cards I did with Hallmark, a company called Parragon wanted me to do a book based on that card, of Father Christmas. I did 7 more books in that range, plus another 6 over the next few years. That started my career. I also took part in exhibitions in local galleries at that time and got an agent via that connection. So for a while I did various illustration work and then I started working with the children’s publisher Little Tiger Press in 2005. I have been on a rolling book contract with them ever since. Meaning I am contracted to do 2-5 books in one contract, spanning over 12 months – 2 years in advance. I prefer a two book contract so I don’t feel trapped. Little Tiger are a great company and really look after me. To the extent of taking me to business parties and taking me out for dinner in Palaces and lovely restaurants in Bologna, Italy, while at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Continue Reading

Ruth Chan chats about Georgia and Illustrations

Interview Ruth Chan

Georgie is my real life cat, and Feta is my real life dog. They are sort of odd and hilarious and are best friends

Celeste:  Hi Ruth, and welcome to my blog! Thanks so much for joining me and my readers today. I stumbled across your portfolio, while browsing the KidLit411’s website and loved your illustrations of your cat Georgie. Can you tell us a little him and his books?

Georgie on books
Georgie on his books

Ruth: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me.

Georgie is my real life cat, and Feta is my real life dog.  They are sort of odd and hilarious and are best friends– they sleep together, clean each other, and get upset when one of them isn’t home.   So, quite understandably, I knew I wanted to make them into characters in a picture book.

Where’s the party? Is the first book that features Georgie, Feta, and a few other friends.  Just like in real life, Georgie and Feta are sweet, a little awkward, but apologetically themselves, We now have a series, called Georgie and friends, and the second book, Georgie’s best bad day is due out April, 2017.

Celeste: I understand that you didn’t come to illustration the conventional route (neither did I!) but discovered it and pursued it. Can you take us through your journey and how you found yourself making drawings for a living?

Ruth: I studied photography and education in school, so, you’re right, I don’t have a conventional, formal background in illustration. I’d always, however, loved picture books. They seamlessly encompass some of the most beautiful things in life: A good story, beautiful language, incredible art, humor, wit, tenderness, and truths. I’d amassed a huge collection of them, but never allowed myself to really consider making them. While I doodled here and there, in my mind, there was no way I had the chops to make it in such a competitive industry. Continue Reading

Interview with Paddy Bouma

Interview Paddy Bouma

Tips, advice and Bertie

Celeste: Hi Paddy! Thank you for taking time out to answer our questions. Before we start, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Paddy at her Studio
Paddy at her Studio

Paddy: I  always wanted to be an illustrator without having any idea how to go about it! So I studied Fine Art at UCT and was fortunate enough to win a bursary to study in Paris afterwards. While I was there, out of the blue I was asked by a SA publisher to illustrate my first book, in black and white. It was set in France, which is why they asked me, I suppose… Unfortunately it ended up so badly printed that I was put off illustration, I thought, forever!

Back in SA, I taught Printmaking at the Art School of Stellenbosch University. But my first love of picture books reasserted itself and in the late 70’s I wrote and illustrated my first picture book in colour. It lay on the shelf for 4 years before it was published…

Celeste: I think I’ve counted over twenty books that you were involved in, as either an illustrator or a writer, since 1984 (which was the year I was born in). Does anyone of those projects stood the test of time for you, and still remains your favorite?

Paddy: I think that would be the Bertie series (about a badly-behaved toy hippo) that I wrote and illustrated for the Bodley Head in London the 80’s. I was recently asked to do a book reading at our granddaughter’s school in Dubai. Confronted by a class of very bright 4-5 year olds, my old favourite came out! The stories seem as popular now as they were then – the teacher commented that she had never known the class to sit still for so long! Continue Reading

Mike Boldt Children Books & Illustration

Mike Boldt Illustrator

The ‘D’ is silent

Celeste: Welcome Mike, to my blog! Before we get started, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

Mike: Thanks Celeste. I appreciate the invite and opportunity. I live in the beautiful countryside just outside Edmonton, Alberta, where I’ve lived most my life enjoying comics, cartoons, sports, and ice cream. I also love creating stories and drawing and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. Professionally, I’ve been working in as an illustrator for over 16 years working almost exclusively on products for children.

I Don't Want to be a Frog
I Don’t Want to be a Frog

Celeste: You style varies a lot, from realist to very stylised work. Can you tell us what your favourite project has been so far?

Mike:  I have a couple favorites. Recently, it would be the I Don’t Want to be a Frog book, by Dev Petty, as well as my next book, A Tiger Tail. Both those books were such a natural delight to work on – which also helps having an incredible editing team that I really connected with. I should add that when I have time for it, I love doing personal doodles. I should really try to make more time for those.

Celeste: Not only are you a creative illustrator, but you’ve also been published as an author. How does it feel to be on the ‘other side’ as a writer?

Mike: It’s a very different approach to a project for sure. Drawing comes very naturally for me, where writing does not. When I get a manuscript that someone else has written, most of the hardest work has been done. As an illustrator, I get a lot of ideas and concepts I’d like to do or write. But an idea or simple concept is nowhere near a finished story. Writing a great story is the most difficult thing I have come up against, but something I also enjoy immensely. Continue Reading

Renee Kurilla talks Illustration

Renee Kurilla

I first saw Renee on Twitter and was blown away by her illustrations. But then ‘bumped’ into her again on the Oatley Podcast where it was so strange to hear her voice! I knew I had to chat to her about her unique style.

Artist

Celeste: Hi Renee! Thanks so much for taking time out to talk to me. I’ve been following/stalking you on Twitter for a while now and I really love your work. The original illustration of your that caught my eye was the one of the artist, twirling her paintbrush like a wand. I remember you saying you used pen and watercolour for it? How do you manage to keep the colours so clean when bringing to digital?

Renee: Haha, thanks Celeste! Firstly, I wish it was acceptable for me to use an “ou” in the word color – it looks so much more appealing (and fancier) than the American way of spelling it!

Thanks so much for your kind words. The piece you mentioned was actually quite a breakthrough piece for me. I’ve been trying for years to mimic a watercolor style on the computer and I think I finally hit it with this one. The line is done with a Prismacolor colored pencil, scanned and colored in Photoshop. This explains why it looks so clean.

I have yet to master the fine art of scanning, my watercolors always look so muddy and boring when I scan them in, so I was able to transition it almost entirely to digital.
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Everyday Love with Nidhi Chanani

Everyday Love

Sometimes I find myself face to face with my own limitations, drawing myself into a corner that spirals into thinking, “I suck, I can’t do this.”

Celeste: Hi Nidhi! I wanted to chat to you because I stumbled upon your illustration portfolio and was really taking with your style. You definitely have a particular style of textures and bright colours (my favorite), with most of your work being digital. Did you start out in traditional medium – and what made you end up in the digital medium?

Nidhi: The vast majority of my illustrations are digital. I have played with wood burnings and watercolor over the past few years and I truly enjoy it. I feel that each medium has its benefits and drawbacks. We live in a time and place where digital tools mimic traditional and afford a lot of flexibility. I will always explore new mediums, and as an artist I don’t know where that might take me next, but I do feel most strongly about digital.

I started with traditional and still sketch on paper as much as I can. I am currently creating my debut graphic novel digitally. But I firmly believe in honing your drawing skills before turning to digital. Nothing can replace a steady hand. Drawing on the computer before mastering paper can be very frustrating. I think many students believes the computer can do the work for you – that’s completely untrue. You must develop your eye, your hand and your understanding of form and shape before venturing into color. I spent a couple years in art school, before I dropped out, drawing traditionally before I began working digitally.
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Emily Hare Illustrations

Emily Hare

My name is Emily Hare and I am an Artist and creator.

Celeste: First of all, thank you so much for letting me interview for the blog. It’s a real honour! I love the name of your studio ‘Waving Monster.’* Can you tell us a little about where it comes from and how it started?

Emily: Hi Celeste, you’re very welcome! It’s lovely to be asked.

The studio name was really invented because I didn’t want to use my own name up front as I thought that something unique that wasn’t a name, would be more memorable. I can’t actually remember how I came up with it now, but it does bring up an immediate image in one’s head, and hopefully, that means people will remember it!

Digital Work in Progress
Digital Work in Progress

Celeste: You work is mostly in digital format. Can you us us the technical information about what you use? Do you use a cintiq or a Intuos (pen/tablet connected to PC)? And do you sketch first in pencil/pen and scan in, or do you go straight at it in digital?

Emily: I grew up and spent years working in traditional media, but in 2004 I started playing around with digital art and got hooked. I now prefer to use digital for commercial projects as they are easier and faster to edit. I use an iMac and a 22HD Cintiq, however I used to use a regular Intuos tablet too (where you don’t draw directly onto it) and that was great, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a Cintiq, but it certainly is handy if you came from traditional media as it feels more natural. My preferred software is Photoshop, but sometimes I’ll use Manga Studio for sketching. If I’m going to be doing a final painting digitally, I always start digitally too.
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Mandarin Duck Journals in Polymer Clay

Mandarin Duck Journals

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things…”

Celeste: First of all, thank you so much for taking time out to answer my questions. I’ve recently started using polymer clay to create pots for plants and during my website polymer-rabbit hole research I stumbled across your beautiful designs. I have so many questions, but I guess I must start at the beginning and just ask what made you think of putting your clay-works on journals in the first place? Did someone suggest it, or did you just look at your journal and think ‘I’m going to design on that.’

Aniko: I found someone else doing it and I thought it’s amazing ( Chris Wildhaber Kapono) , although even if seeing journals was my first experience I had with polymer clay, still for another few years I didn’t do journals. I was making little pendants, jewelry boxes and things like that. When I made my first ever journal I loved it and all the members of my family loved it, too. So after the first one I made few more and somehow it stuck to me. But I still do make other things like jewelry boxes, jewelry, miniature sculpture and more.

Elephant Journal
Indian Elephant Journal

Celeste: ‘Mandarin Duck’ is the name of your studio – is there a story there, or how did you come up with the name?

Aniko: I remember once I came back from school and my mother also came back from her work. She was all enthusiastic and she said that today she had a psychological test done to her and she wanted me to go through this test too. You have to name 5 animals ( birds, fish e.c.t.) and then she will give me the results. So my favourite bird at a time was Mandarin Duck, animals – Tiger and because I had rats as my pets, I also said a rat.

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