So many illustrators often fill their blog with waffles about what they did during the day (went down to the post office, had a coffee) as well as starting off their post with “Sorry it’s been so long, but I’ve been busy”
Toss all of that out your window and think, what is it you would want to read about.
As a creative, as an illustrator, what are things that draw you? Do you want other illustrators to read your work? What audience are you attracting?
I love watching old episodes of Gummi Bears while I work. It not only puts me in the right frame of mind for illustrating children’s books, but it also provides the perfect background noise of something mildly entertaining, without being distracting. I know that Milt Kahl would have disagreed with me, as Richard Williams said in his book, but sometimes a little Gummi Bears is just what I feel like and I feel nostalgic about these bears.
Recently when I had tea with Paddy, I took an opportunity to ask her some technical questions. Paddy has a fine arts background and has been in the industry of children’s books, as well as an artist for years. For myself – I’ve done a class here and there, but for the most part it has been a trial and tested method, along with a fair amount of self-learning. One thing that did catch my eye though, was that after the scanning process a lot of pencil marks come through. It’s a simple thing really – the scanning takings out some of the original colour and so to replace it, you need to tweak your illustrations in Photoshop. Read more
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: 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
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.
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. Read more
Starting out as an illustrator might be a bit daunting. Every industry has its terms and phrases that can throw one a little when you’ve just joined. I remember when I first heard about ‘Doc Martens’ with some fellow illustrators, I thought they were talking about the shoe. I couldn’t understand why everyone was insisting on drawing with these boots, and why these boots and not other boots like Caterpillars or something. Perhaps it was a new technique, or style, like drawing with feathers or sticks? As soon as everyone’s backs were turned I quickly took out my phone and googled it. As I am sure you probably know reading this, ‘Doc Martens’ was actually ‘Dr. Ph. Martin which is a brand of liquid watercolors. So we learn everyday.
In publishing there are a lot of terms that we all have to familiarise ourselves with, even as freelancers and illustrators. Below I’ve highlighted some of the more common terms. Free free to add your own experiences in the comments, or if there is a term you don’t know then ask as well. Read more
Using Google Images can be really useful if you are an illustrator. Before the ‘Google Times’ illustrators would flock to libraries to gather images. They would go to different locations, take photos and have endless subscriptions to magazines with lots of photos and keep them as reference. Buying magazines and books is still a great habit to have and if you know of a source, it is also a good idea to go and experience, but being able to use Google Images is becoming more and more part of the ‘average’ illustrator’s skill set.
In a previous blog post about How to use Google for Illustrators I covered on how to optimise your search phrases and terms. Now I am going to expand that and tell you a little more the Advance Search Tool option in Google Images.