First Year in Illustrating

Racoon Illustration

It is September.

September is a big month for me. It is my husband’s birthday and our eight year anniversary (has it really been that long?), but it is also the time for peer reviews for Christmas bonuses and round about the time I got my car insurance money pay out last year. Therefore, it was roughly a year ago, that I typed up my resignation letter and started the count down, as I had accumulated enough cash to survive for eight months.

Eight months came and went and it is with great joy that I am still here, self-employed. It actually took me just over 6 months to start covering myself (if people are saving for the same journey). Soon I hope to exceed the ‘just covering’ and go into ‘look at me, I’m fabulous!” Read more

Social Media & Marketing for Illustrators Character

Social Media

For those of you who receive my newsletter, or follow me on social media, you might know that I am in the process of putting together an online course on Social Media & Marketing for Illustrators. The course won’t be a ‘how to create a profile on Facebook’ but more about how to tailor social media marketing for illustrators, get inspired for campaigns, and ideas on getting noticed.

I’ve finished putting together the first draft on paper but now have to translate that for video. I thought I would incorporate a character throughout the series. I have drawn up a few animals to play around with. Depending on the topic of the module, I thought I would use the character in a quick illustration.

Anyone have a favorite?

Characters roughs
Characters roughs

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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! Read more

Life of an Illustrator

Nixie

Ramblings in my house

Nixie is my youngest of five. She has three dads, in the form of cats, and one mom, in the form of Brownie, my highly intelligent street special dog, who has a lot of German Shepard in her. Nixie, according to the vet, has whippet. A breed usually known to be timid, shy, and have their tails in between their legs a lot when in public spaces. Nixie is none of these things.

To give you an idea of her personality, we left her inside (when I went to yoga class, or nipped out an hour or so). At first it was fine. Then she started chewing on things from the bin. But for weeks it was never anything that couldn’t be fixed, or moved before leaving. Until we came home and open the door to an artistic madness. She had found a brown bag, containing a few oil paints from Deckle Edge. Out of the three primary colours, she had decided that the red was her favorite. She promptly chewed the tube, digesting half the paint, smearing pinky red paint all over her face, paws and carpet. She also chewed the oil paper. It took my husband and I an hour to remove the oil paint from the carpet with turpentine. She, on the other had, had no issues at all from eating the paint. Read more

5 Top March Projects

Project Header March

There is so much going on right now, I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post on some of the projects I am working on. At a later point, I’ll do another one with updates, so that you can all join in on the progress. Don’t forget to book for the Creative Workshop in April. Also I’ll be making an appearance at The Deer Little Market (details below).


1. Katya Cat at The Deer Little Market – 20th of March 2016

Deer Market IllustrationAuthor, Julia Richman, of Katya Cat – The Bacon Chase, and I will be reading and illustrating at The Deer Little Market on Sunday the 20th March, at 2 Deer Park Drive, adjacent to Deerpark Cafe, Vredehoek, Cape Town. The market is open at 9am to 1pm. I will have to get back to you when Julia and I are presenting. There will be stalls and entertainment for little ones, as well as a magic show later in the day, so make a note in your calendar. Julia will be reading a few chapters while I illustrate the characters and we shall be handing out simple drawings for all little ones to colour in as well. There will be copies of Katya Cat for sale. Read more

Whimsical Illustrator – Shirley Ng-Benitez

Shirley Illustrator

My inspiration are my kids and nature.

Celeste: Hi Shirley! Thank so much for chatting with us today. I must say I love your work – it is very whimsical! Can you tell us a little about yourself, before I start bombarding you with questions!

Shirley: Hi Celeste! You are so kind to ask and thank you for your generous words, I really appreciate that! I am a children’s book illustrator and writer living in the Bay Area, California and have been illustrating for the children’s market for about five years. I made the transition to illustration in 2011 from many years in the graphic design field. I started out after college working for American Greetings, Inc. as a Professional Lettering Artist, and then worked for different design firms specializing in the toy industry, direct marketing, product marketing, and technology. I continue to work with my clients in design through gabbyandco.com, my company established in ‘98. Read more

South African Illustrator: Sam van Riet

Sam van Riet

Sam van Riet is a South African illustrator, with 20 years of experience. She chats to us about how things have changed since she started, and her latest projects.

Celeste: Hi Sam, and welcome to the blog. Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. I thought it would be nice to have a local (South African) artist interview on my blog.  First of all, can you just tell us a little about yourself and your experience?

Sam: I studied graphic design and then Illustration at Stellenbosch university. I was lucky to have Niki Daly and Paddy Bouma as lecturers, so studying was a great experience for me. Since then I have worked as a freelance illustrator for about 20 years.
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Making Beastie Pots

Beastie Pots

‘Someone bought one of your pots’

My Cat, Toady, with Alex
My Cat, Toady, with Alex

As far as Cape Town is concerned, it is out of season. Summer is also in full bloom, so it is isn’t the best time to plant either. Basically, my timing over-all is really, really bad. Yet, the wonderful, friendly lady at Kalk Bay Garden Shop uttered the words I have been waiting for her to say in two weeks ‘Someone bought one of your pots.’

I dashed outside and did a quick head count. There was Fred, Alfred, Werner, Alex, Sam, Lizzie, Edward…. yes, yes she was right – someone had snatched up Henry. I’ve been smiling from ear to ear! While I was there I did a little swop with some of the pots, as a few of them needed some hair-cuts since they’ve been at the Kalk Bay Garden Shop. One of the swops was with one of my favourite pots, Charles, who is now sitting on the shelf giggling to all that pass.

I thought it might be a nice idea to share with all of you, the work  that goes into making a Beastie pot. If you are interested in making one yourself, I am thinking of running a workshop later this year on it, where you can make your own. Drop me an email (mrsbeckerling(at)gmail(dot)com) if you are interested.
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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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