Featured Publication: Hello, Australia! by Megan McKean

Written by Megan McKean
on 28 September, 2018

Megan McKean with her brand new book Hello, Australia!

We celebrated your first two books in this sweet look-and-find series, Hello, Sydney! and Hello, Melbourne!, here on the Finders Keepers blog. Tell us what’s different about Hello, Australia!

I’m so excited for Hello, Australia! to be released into the world, after months and months in the making! The success of Hello, Sydney! and Hello, Melbourne! got me inspired to create a book for all of Australia, to cover more of our amazing animals and nature outside of the capital cities. Hello, Australia! is different from the first two books in that it offers a broader look around the country and shows how varied our landscapes are — from snow in Victoria, to tropical rainforests in QLD, and desert in WA (and lots of other places in between!).

Given the intricacy of your drawings, we imagine it’s a lot of work to make a book as detailed as Hello, Australia! How long does the process take?

The book making process is a BIG one, and while I’ve never added up all the hours that go into it, it does take a solid few calendar months to bring it to life. I plan out the illustrations alongside working on the manuscript, so that all of the research I’m doing for the writing can get explored further in the illustrations (there are lots of hidden elements in the illustrations that I just didn’t have room to write about in the text!).

I choose a colour palette quite early on in the process, and always keep that in mind when I’m drawing in all the different pieces, to try and avoid the same colours overlapping in an illustration.

All of the illustrated spreads in Hello, Australia! were done in one big piece, on an A2 sheet of paper in black ink — this typically takes me around 4-5 hours for these detailed illustrations to draw up. Once this part is finished, I work digitally to colour (a process that usually takes around 15+ hours)… and then check how the flow of the colours and spreads are all working together as they go into the book layout. It’s certainly not a quick process, but I work in very solid, intense blocks for days at a time (while watching something trashy on Netflix, of course) — so I often get to the end of the colouring and it feels like magic that it’s suddenly finished!

What’s your favourite spread?

Choosing a favourite spread is so tough! I have some favourite parts of lots of the spreads —like all of the tulips in the ACT, the Tassie devils in TAS, or the bright yellow in QLD… I’m quite partial to the WA spread though, and it was a fun one to bring to life. With the black swans, the wave rock, whale sharks, numbats, black cockatoos and sandy desert to work with, there was a lot to combine into the one image but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

Where do we go to get a copy!?

You can get a copy at all good bookstores around Australia from October 01, or online worldwide from The Book Depository. I’ll have a limited number available in person at The Finders Keepers Melbourne, ready to sign too! My new collection Land of the Rainbow Gold has been designed as an expansion of all the amazing creatures and colours found in Hello, Australia! and I can’t wait to share that with you in Melbourne too!

McKean Studio new collection Land of the Rainbow Gold


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