Kirstenbosch Winter Wonderland – An awesome day!

Kirstenbosch Winter Wonderland

Birds can’t fly in Winter. I have never seen one fly.

I arrived at Kirstenbosch at about 9:30 in the morning. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I arrived at about 8:30 and drank a hot chocolate in the car, while writing for an hour before grabbing my kit and heading inside the bookshop at 9:30. I was greet by the Kirstenbosch Bookstore team – Mark and Greg. They offered me a coffee while I wait and I headed into the kiddies area.

I was so impressed with Kirstenbosch. There were mini chairs and a lovely table display of Katya Cat books, along with the Kirstenbosch trade mark – a gorgeous vase with proteas. Julia Richman, the author, arrived with her book as well as Belinda, from Penguin Random House. Belinda was carrying under her arm a flip-chart for me to use while I illustrate. With a wink, she informed me she ‘borrowed’ it from the CEO’s office. I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was going to use the CEO of one of the best publishing companies in South Africa (and the world!) to illustrate Katya’s characters. What a treat! Continue Reading

John Kelly on Pirates, Processes and Illustrations

John Kelly

I don’t like cheese. Hate the stuff!

Celeste: Hi John! Thank so much for chatting with us today! I just love your Beasty Pirates book and I am so excited I can pick your brain for a bit. First of all, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch
Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch

John: Hi Celeste, So glad you like the Beastly Pirates, especially as there’s another one coming this summer. It’s called ‘Munch, Crunch, Pirate Lunch!’ And tells the tale of Heartless Bart, the pirate leader, who is exceptionally annoyed that the Beastly Pirates have eaten all of his pirates and sets out on a dastardly plan of revenge.

Well, I’ve worked in publishing, firstly as a designer, since 1990. Most of that was in children’s reference non-fiction. I found out very quickly that as I was a designer who could draw I naturally gravitated towards doing books about explaining things. My niche was deconstructing technology, buildings, animals, maps, and films. I’ve always been interested in taking things apart and putting them back together again to show how they worked.

But I’ve also worked in licensing, doing books about Star Wars and Pixar for a company called Dorling Kindersley.

So I spent a big chunk of my career drawing things for other people to then illustrate. I never considered my own drawings to be artwork or illustration as such. They were always just the ‘blueprints’ for a ‘proper’ illustrator to come in and finish off properly.

Over the years I did illustrate some books, but in the early 2000’s (long story) I ended up getting involved in children’s fiction. The rest, they say, is history. 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

Polymer Clay Art Dolls by Мастерская Santaniel

Santani Interview

Sowls are small mischievous spirits. They like to frolic, so don’t forget to feed them sweets, and they will become your best friends!

Celeste: Hi Santani! Thank you for taking time out to chat to us today about your amazing creatures. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself – where are you based, how did it all start?

Little Dragon
Little Dragon

Santani: Hello! Thank you for the interest and kind words. I am sorry for my bad English, but I will try. I live and work in Moscow, Russia. I started making dolls when I was 15. Since then I’ve never stopped making them till now, so about 10 years. At first I made small full-plastic figures of animals and fantasy creatures like dragons and etc. After 2 years I started to make dolls combining faux fur and clay parts.

Celeste: The combination of sculpting and sewing is an unusual hobby mix – do you sew the dolls and how long did it take you to work it all out? 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

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. Continue Reading

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.
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.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading