How would you describe your style of artwork and how has this evolved?
I try to keep a human element – imperfections, happy accidents and an organic, fluid nature in my work by painting everything by hand. It comes out quite simply but hopefully with some character. I am really just starting out, this is my second year since finishing my studies, so I think and hope there’s a lot more evolving to come!
What is your background and what lead you to where you are today?
I’ve always had a love for drawing and design. When I left school I went straight to Enmore Design Centre for 3 years and left with a Design Cert IV and an Advanced Diploma in Design and Illustration. I worked as a junior designer for one year photoshopping images and learning about repeat patterns for fabric design, when that ended I threw myself into trying to become a full time illustrator. I designed quirky greeting cards which I sent to art directors and publishers, no direct work came out of it but the process started off my collection of cards for my online store which has been a really fun part of the journey. That was in April 2013 and from there I’ve worked pretty hard building up my portfolio and taking on every opportunity that came my way.
What inspires your work and where do you head for regular inspiration?
My personal work is inspired by the natural environment and the simple things in life, it’s usually derived from a mixture of admiration, amazement and grief for the natural world and driven by my constant curiosity for life. I’ve built up a beautiful collection of children’s books where I head to regularly for inspiration Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Marc Martin, Rob Ryan and Alison Lester are my constant favourites.
What materials and mediums do you enjoy working with and exploring? What other areas would you like to explore or expand into?
I’ve spent the last year working predominantly with watercolour, it’s got a life of it’s own which I really have connected with. I think I’ve become a bit known as a watercolour illustrator but the first children’s book I illustrated with Walker Books (coming out in May) is black and white paper cut illustrations. I’d love to expand into fabric design working with natural dyes, more paper cut illustrations, more watercolour, collage and mixed media. There is so much to learn which is a really exciting part of having a creative job, I want to give everything a go.
Describe your workspace and surroundings and what your creative process is.
My workspace is in the spare bedroom at home, my desk is next to a window that looks out into the garden and at the moment Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson are my soundtrack. I have lots of lists and work amongst a fair bit of ‘creative clutter’. I’m a bit of a messy worker, things don’t stay tidy for long once I get going on a job – I’m not sure how it happens, but my workspace definitely looks like a space that is worked in. My process starts with a bit of research and searching for reference, then it’s straight to the sketch book where sometimes I try to scribble out ideas as fast as they’re racing through my mind and other times I sit and stare at a blank page for a while. I always start with my ideas and as much of the process as possible drawn and painted by hand, that’s just what seems to work best for me.
What advice would you give other illustrators starting out?
I feel like I’m just starting out so not sure I should be answering this question! I think it’s important to learn to embrace your style – no one will see the world exactly how you see it and no one’s imagination works like yours. There’s a lot of hard work, long days and if you’re like me – tears, that go into this kind of job, but it’s really worth it. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as you put a lot of yourself into it, I find it helpful to keep track of nice things people say about my work, to remind myself there are positive responses to what I’m creating.
What has been your favourite project/collaboration to work on?
I’ve recently been collaborating with Like Minds Avoca (read our interview with Like Minds Avoca here), a wonderful cafe and creative space, and painted a mural on their fence. I loved having the opportunity to be a part of such a beautiful creative space. The opportunity to work with one of my past teachers on my first children’s book is also a highlight.
What aspirations do you have for the future, and where do you hope to see your work?
I’d love to illustrate more children’s books – I’m working on two more this year, and would love for that to continue to build into the future. I’m really passionate about fair trade and environmentally friendly practices in print media and fashion. I’d love to eventually work on fabric design and collaborate with someone to create a fair trade clothing range. I’d love to see my work promoting positive change in the world and to continue to see photos of my work in people’s homes. Seeing my illustrations in book stores will be particularly exciting, if you see someone excitedly taking a selfie in the kids book section in May this year that will most likely be me.