We were tickled pink to learn that Megan McKean was approached by Thames & Hudson, at the Finders Keepers Melbourne Market last year, with an idea in mind to create something special. Just over a year later, Megan’s brand new (and first ever) book Hello, Sydney! is about to hit the shelves. We caught up with Megan to learn more about the publishing process.
Psst. Megan will be selling copies of her book at our Sydney market this weekend!
Congratulations on your first book deal! Tell us about the brand new Hello, Sydney!
‘Hello, Sydney!’ is a colourful, adventure filled introduction to my favourite harbour city. It follows six cheeky seagulls on a busy day visiting many different locations in Sydney (Taronga Zoo, the Aquarium, Bondi Beach and more) and keeps an eye on the mischief they get up to.
It’s perfect for children aged 3-6 years old, but is also full of interesting facts and hidden details to keep parents entertained too! It’s for the born and bred Sydney-sider, the person in town for a weekend, your nieces and nephews coming to visit for the first time, or anyone with a love for vibrant illustrations or wanting to learn something new about this great city!
What was the inspiration behind the book, and how did you secure a book deal!?
The inspiration behind the book is the beautiful city of Sydney, and the many wonderful locations we have in one place (and of course, the ever-present seagulls that happen to be at all of the spots!). I was inspired by so many wonderful authors and illustrators in my approach; the factual story style and city celebrations of M.Sasek, the hidden detail illustrations of Graeme Base, the vibrant and refined colour palettes of Dick Bruna, and the busy-ness of the wonderful Richard Scarry.
I was approached by Thames & Hudson whilst in Melbourne for The Finders Keepers in July 2015. I’ve always been a big believer in opportunities popping up when you least expect them, and a book deal is no exception!
A lot of emails in the following months back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, we fleshed out the concept, I pitched some illustrated spreads, had a contract approved in the UK, and then by February 2016 I was writing the manuscript and into the thick of it!
What is your illustration process, do you work exclusively in the digital format?
My illustration process is a combination of analogue and digital. I’m quite old school in my sketching, starting small and then building up to larger sheets of paper roughs before I’m ready to draw the final piece. All of my work is drawn as one piece, on one sheet of giant paper.
All of my line work is completed in pencil and ink, then scanned in before I digitally colour. I love the control that digital colouring gives me in my colour palettes, while the line work still retains the hand drawn nature. I went through a lot of A2 paper during the book-making process, and spent a lot of time with my new friends at Officeworks having my original artwork scanned in.
What is your favourite place in Sydney featured in the book? What do you like to do there?
It’s so hard to pick a favourite location from the book! My top two would be the Queen Victoria Building and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, I’ve got such fond memories in both during the years I’ve lived in Sydney.
I love seeing the clocks change in the QVB, and it’s such a beautiful building to get some retail therapy in. After countless visits, I still find myself admiring the stained glass windows, the intricate tiles on the floor and the delicate details that cover the building from floor to ceiling.
I also love a visit to the AGNSW anytime, for new exhibitions or to visit my most-adored in the permanent collection. I always make a bee line to see my favourite piece, ‘Five Bells’ by John Olsen. I love his depictions of the harbour, and it’s one of my earliest ‘art memories’ I have, of falling in love with an artwork and the story behind it, and the connection between art and a living, moving city.
Where do we go to get a copy!?
You can get yourself a copy of ‘Hello, Sydney!’ from our website, www.mckeanstudio.com, and also shop our brand new range of goodies to celebrate the book’s release – seagull pins, sun keyrings, colourful scarves and lots more.
Psst! If you’re Sydney based and feel like taking a peek inside Studio McKean, then head to 75 Mary Street, St Peters this Thursday September 29 from 5-8pm for the Hello Sydney book launch! Open studio continues Friday September 30 from 10am-3pm