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illustration

Interview with Susann Hoffmann | Inspiring Illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara OrdComment

Hello Susann, Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us today about all your beautiful creative work. You are a very talented illustrator with a unique style which captivates the eye. How did you find your ‘voice’ in illustration, that makes your work specially yours?

Thank you so much for reaching out (and for the compliments!), happy to have found your blog! It’s so funny that you mention “my style” because for the longest time, I was sure I didn’t have one. Up to three years ago I found myself copying illustrators whose style I admired, but apart from feeling bad about it, I didn’t feel like it was “me” – it was a lot of pencil work and very reduced colour. 

In 2017, I saw people on Instagram using paint markers in their sketchbooks and I was captivated by the vibrant colours and the smooth surfaces that made the drawings seem like printed artworks. Usually I would never say that a medium defines your style, but I think for me it did change something. I started doodling, not thinking too much about what I wanted to draw but merely playing with those colours, building shapes and seeing what could develop from them. Also, when working digitally before, I was SO bad with colours! The markers gave me a limited palette to work with and I just chose 4–5 colours and stuck with them for the whole illustration. That really tied my work together, I think. 

Journey to Publishing a Picture Book | Part 3

illustrationCara OrdComment

Before you start reading, if you want to catch up on part one and two just click below.

PART 1 | PART 2

If you are all caught up let’s begin with part 3. We finished off last way back in time at university. Well now we move forward a bit and it is time for a bit of self exploration. Now it is time for ‘The Elephant Who Forgot What He Was’. This is a beautiful poem I found online by Christopher Ronald Jones (if you are reading Chris please let me know what you think of my adaptation, would love to get in touch). I had decided after illustrating an Australian classic it was time to dip my toes into the water of children’s poetry, and see what my imagination came up with.

This little project took me about a month to develop from concept to completion and is still one of my favourite personal projects to date.

It started like all good picture books do, with a pinch of reading, a dash of pagination and a big dollop of story boarding. I spent about a week figuring out the layout of this 32 page pipe dream and then off I went full steam ahead into the fun of character design and creating an aesthetic for this sweet little story.

Interview with Melissa Castrillion | Inspiring Illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara OrdComment

Hello Melissa, I am honoured to be able to chat with you. I have followed your work for quite a while now and I am so thrilled to see you are have just released a new book which you have not only illustrated but written as well, this is such an exciting step in an already well established career. Can you tell us a bit about the book?

Hi Cara! Thank you so much for featuring on your blog and in this wonderful project :) Mighty Min is my first authored & illustrated book and it is a story I feel that I have had inside me since I was a child. I’ve always been fascinated by miniature worlds and the thought of small people living below our feet - I loved books such as ‘The burrowers’ when I was younger and it definitely inspired this story.

‘Mighty Min’ is about a miniature girl called Min who lives with her 4 equally miniature but very mighty aunts. Min dreams of being strong and brave like her aunts and one day she gets swept up by an owl and she finds herself on a mighty adventure where she discovers that just because she is small doesn't mean she's not brave & heroic.

The book has been described as ‘a Thumbelina for the 21st century’ which I think describes it well.

Something Personal

illustrationCara OrdComment

One of my favourite things to do as a creative is illustrate and I really want to share this passion with you. Art is such a precious gift and personal experience and I want to give you the opportunity to have your own personalise illustration. Whether it be a pet portrait, a family drawing, or a little book to tell someone you love them, I want to create something for you that is uniquely yours and no one else’s. As such I am opening up illustration commissions on my store. 

Design for Sentimentality | Wedding invitations, stationary and personal projects

designCara OrdComment

Graphic design isn't just for corporate clients, we don't just make logos and advertisements, there is so much more. When you think of graphic designer often what comes to mind is a corporate hipster drinking overly priced coffee and pretentiously gloating about branding and UX and their next high-class client. However not all of us, or many of us designers actual fit that bill. Yes I may like a nice Starbucks once in a blue moon and yes I do branding for my share of corporate clients but that is not all I am about. 

My biggest group of clientele are actual ordinary people, brides with upcoming weddings and mothers who want a special design for their baby dedication. These clients don't want a flashy logo or branding that grows their reach or attracts profits. They have nothing to sell, they simply want something beautiful and meaningful for them. As such you should not treat these lovely people as if they are a business. 

When doing what is considered standard graphic design we are doing 'problem solving', finding the best visual and experience solutions to answer a clients problem. However designing for sentimentality is more than this. You are not solving a problem but seeking to bring happiness, and this means that you should take care in every step of the process. Treat your client as a friend, or family. Respect their wishes and tastes, this project is purely for them and them alone. Unlike other design projects you only have 1 person who has to be happy at the end of the day and that is the client standing right in front of you.

I offer wedding invite and stationary design and personalised illustration for weddings and families as part of my eclectic services. I love being able to find that perfect design to put a smile on a Brides face. A bride just wants to know that you get it. That you understand what she wants. Wedding planning is stressful and any tension you can take away from that is a blessing. 

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

When designing or illustrating for sentimentality the biggest thing you can do is listen. Listen to what your client wants and do your best to provide it. On top of this go the extra mile, have a conversation with your client, you may be able to help them out in more ways then just design. Maybe you can direct them to a great photographer or recommend colours for a beautiful bouquet. Trust me, your client would love that you have gone the extra mile and respect you for it. Being attentive to your clients adds value to your service, a value which sadly is not widely available.

Designing for personal projects remember to treat each client as an individual. Never box them in or categories them. When working with a personal project, where the clients heart and soul is in it a template will never do. Respect their passion and their time and effort put into this project. They haven't come to you to be cast aside or handed off, they have come to you for your expertise and advice. They just need your help crossing the last hurdle to their happy finish line.

If you are a possible client reading this. Please do not allow yourself to be under valued. Yes hunting for the cheapest price may get you a quick design but I can guarantee the designer on the other side is just wanting to do a quick slap up job to gain some quick cash. When hunting for someone to make your wedding invites, or a poster or mural for your home, don't settle for someone who doesn't treat you like you are your own person. When clients quote through me, I strive to make sure that I have added value to their lives. Sometimes the budget may not fit the project but we work together to create something out of it. Whether it be by creating the dream piece they wanted, giving them helpful tips and advice to help them with their plans or by educating them about the design world and what steps they will need to take to complete their project.

I hope this little piece has helped both designers and clients and that both parties earn the respect they deserve. 

If anyone may need my assistance in a sentimental design project, whether it be a personal endeavour, party/event invites or wedding stationary please contact me through the form below and I would be happy to lend a helping hand, or share any advice I can offer.

Have a lovely day.

Interview with Freya Blackwood | Inspiring illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara Ord
illustration by Freya Blackwood

illustration by Freya Blackwood

Hello Freya, It is a pleasure to have you joining us today. I have followed your work for a few years now and a particular favourite of mine is ‘Maudie and Bear’. Being a published illustrator since 2003 I am sure you have a lot of experiences you could share with us.

You transitioned from effects design to illustration, how did this come about? did your design background and education influence your illustration in anyway?

I studied Visual Communications at UTS, focusing on filmmaking, and then went on to work in the film effects industry. I was making foamed latex prosthetics, but was just blown away by the work the designers did, and really, rather desperately, wanted to draw too. My work would never work for film design but I found a place for myself in children’s book illustration. I think both my basic study in graphic design, and interest in filmmaking has influenced my illustration choices. I love designing my books, both from a graphic design point of view and also as a production designer, creating a look like you might do for a film. I also enjoy deciding how to view a scene and reveal the characters and action. 

Freya, you have a beautiful style using water colours and pencil to create a dream like quality to your images. How did you settle on this style and medium for your work?

I haven’t done much formal illustration training, one semester of editorial illustration at uni, and the odd life drawing class. I’ve instead gathered basic skills and knowledge since childhood, brought up by a painter and art teacher mother. I actually came to use watercolour and a specific paper when an illustrator I approached for advice suggested watercolour might be worth trying. I enjoyed the experience and have gradually taught myself to use it in different ways. I do use other mediums too though, depending on the story and the feeling I’m trying to convey. 

Your characters are very emotive and very distinct in personality, how do you achieve this?

My characters are often based on people in my life - my daughter, friends, neighbours or family. Portraying characters is one of my favourite aspects of illustration, and they end up feeling quite real to me. I wasn’t conscious of my interest in exploring emotions until people pointed it out, but I’ve since noticed that I spend a lot of time trying to get a character’s posture and facial expression looking right. 

I see you now have quite a few books under your belt as well as other illustrated collateral shared in your Etsy store. How many new products to you bring out per year, how do you plan out your production schedule for your creative work?

I have been illustrating about two books a year now since 2003. The only real plan in place is that two books a year is all I can manage! Anything more than that tends to push me over the edge. I take on the odd extra project if it takes my fancy, but the books are my main interest. 

You have done several collaborations with different authors, how do you find working on some one else’s vision? Could you run us briefly through the process of working with authors and publishers in the creation of a picture book?

I love the various collaborations I’ve had with authors. More often than not I feel as though the story actually becomes my own – that I am an equal author in the creation of the book. Ordinarily I work directly with the publisher, rarely getting any direction from the author, so the visuals I create are based on my interpretation of their text, not their vision. 

Different publishers work in different ways. Sometimes I work directly with the publisher, sometimes an editor, sometimes an art director. Occasionally an author is involved at each stage, but often the author doesn’t feel the need to be overly involved. Libby Gleeson tells me she likes handing her stories over to me and seeing what I come up with, and I’m thrilled to be trusted in this way. Normally I meet up and chat with the editor or publisher (or more often than not this takes place over the phone or via email because I live in Orange) about the direction we think the illustrations might take. The author must get to see the book as it is developing, but this always happens through the publisher, and any feedback from them travels via the publisher. I also enjoy working closely with a book’s designer. There have been times when I’ve struggled to solve problematic parts of a book, and know the designer I often work with will be able to look through the book and instantly help me solve issues. 

Working as an illustrator from home, how to you manage to keep up with the demand of your work as well as family commitments? Does your daughter participate in your work practice and enjoy the stories you create?

For the past 11 years I’ve really only worked part time and then during school hours. I only take on as much work as I can manage in that time. My studio is out in the backyard and I rarely return to it after the afternoon extra curricular activities and dinner making duties. As my daughter gets older, I sometimes work longer into the afternoons, or the odd panicked weekend, but honestly, I like school hours and I like being able to take her to her violin lessons, or go swimming together. 

As a younger child, Ivy always enjoyed somewhat louder and more dramatic books than mine, usually containing a dinosaur! However, much of her childhood is recorded in my books, through the characters, their expressions, funny antics and toys.

If you had one key piece of advice that you would give an illustrator beginning their professional journey, what might it be?

I think my illustrations are better when they haven’t been perfected, when I’ve stepped away at just the right moment. In this same way, sometimes the best drawings are those that aren’t necessarily perfect but are fresh and free and have been enjoyed, rather than laboured over. I guess I’d recommend enjoying the process, feeling your way, possibly even embracing the imperfections along the way so the end result is unique rather than stiff and forced. 

What is some of the inspiration behind your work?

My daughter has definitely been my greatest inspiration, but I think our life in general, and what we choose to do with our time has also inspired my work. 

Out of your published works which is your favourite and why?

I don’t have an absolute favourite book - there are aspect of each book that I really love. But there are a few books that I feel really work as a whole. These are: Amy & Louis, written by Libby Gleeson, Banjo & Ruby Red, also written by Libby, and The Runaway Hug, written by Nick Bland. Amy & Louis is such a special story to me, and I worked very hard to get it feeling as close to perfect as possible. I love reading Banjo & Ruby Red out to kids, and witnessing the quiet when Ruby Red is found sick and the relief when she gets better. And The Runaway Hug is such a fun and unique story and I found the illustrations just kind of happened, without too much of an ordeal. 

Cover for Banjo and Ruby Red Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Cover for Banjo and Ruby Red Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

When you began as an illustrator how did you get your voice heard among the crowd? did you approach publishers, authors or agents, or were you approached to produce a project?

When I first started thinking about picture book illustration, I was living in New Zealand. I built up a portfolio doing single illustrations and spreads for an educational publisher called Learning Media. Eventually I sent out a small portfolio (printed in those days) to publishers in New Zealand, Australia, the US and UK, and there was some minor interest. But I also approached a family friend who worked on occasion as an author and illustrator, and I was very lucky to get a helping hand from him. He sent my work directly to a publisher and she found a text for me to illustrate, which was Two Summers. Several years later I was approached by an agent and I’ve been with her ever since. 

Finally, what is your dream project?

I think my current dream project might be a fairytale-style story told in a modern setting. But I would also love to see my characters animated.

Last Hug Print illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Last Hug Print illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Interview with Michael DiGiorgio | Inspiring Illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara Ord

Following on from last weeks animal conservation theme we have the gorgeous work of nature illustrator Michael DiGiorgio. Michaels work depicts birds in all their beauty straight from our world. He searches for his subject matter and paints them in place using their real appearance, habits and movements to get a in depth idea of his subject matter. 

illustration of birds in brush by Michael DiGiorgio

illustration of birds in brush by Michael DiGiorgio

Hello Michael, Thank you so much for offering to share some of your wisdom with us today. Your work has such fine detail and really demonstrates the beauty of the natural environment around us.

You capture all your nature imagery from life. How did you learn to observe such detail in a moving subject?

When I was a young artist learning to paint birds, I went to see Don Eckelberry, one of the greats bird painters of all time. He saw my work and immediately sensed that I was copying photos. He suggested that I go outdoors and sketch birds directly from life in quick gestural sketches. At first, I was puzzled on how to capture fast moving subjects like warblers, but then as I persisted, I learned how to create simple gestural drawing with observation notes that became a sort of shorthand for me. I know teach my method to interested parties at my courses

What drew you to birds as your main subject matter?

Don’t know? I was born with a fascination of birds, and it’s carried over throughout my life. I guess the combination of color, song, and flight is the main attraction for me. Everything I do in life eventually comes back to my love of birds.

Can you talk us through your field kit? What is your preferred tools of choice when creating your illustrations?

I have a small half pan watercolor kit, a small water container, a soda bottle with water, a stool, and an Arches watercolor pad. Most of the time when I’m sketching in pencil, just a small sketchbook and a pencil. When I’m stationary and painting, I use my angled spotting scope.

How long does it take you to produce a piece such as your ‘Scarlet Macaws’?

Observation and sketches is the first and most important step. Second is photos I take of backgrounds and habitat. Last is the accuracy of the drawing, noting else matters if the drawing is off. Next choosing a style that reflects the subject, and then getting a light source to work with. I use skin I get from Yale Peabody for plumage and photos for the rest of the reference.

Working from life how do you decide what details to keep and which to omit, such as background busy elements or textures?

There are two type of marks you can make on a piece of art: one adds to it and one takes away from it. It is harder to leave the unnecessary out than it is to put the unnecessary in. It takes many years of doing this to know when to stop and how much to put in to bring your subject to life. Unnecessary detail communicates a lack of knowledge of the subject to me. 

Do you go out hunting for a specific subject or do your subjects find you? talk us through the process of your illustrations from idea to finished piece?

When I go out, I’m usually on the hunt for a specific subject. Sometimes on my way I find an unintended subject that is more interesting, and I paint it. But most of the time, I’m after a specific habitat and bird that speaks to me at the moment. If I can’t finish it in the field, I usually bring it home and then try to capture the experience in my studio and finish it. It’s often so much harder to get that feeling of immediacy of the direct observation and the freshness in the studio. It just sort of flows out of you when you’re in front of the original subject.

Have you had formal training in your craft? if so can you tell us a bit about your experiences?

Yes, I have a Bachelors of Fine Art and a Graduate Degree in Art. But most of my education came from Don Eckelberry and going out and learning on my own.
Learning how to paint outdoors with the challenging light, foliage, etc. is the best teacher. Don was very critical when critiquing my work. As he often said, if you want compliments,
ask your Mother.

He taught me how to place the bird in a convincing pose with enough background to suggest it’s habitat, but not too much as to take away from the subject.

does working professionally in illustration diminish some of your passion for the work you do?

No, it augments it. Having to work with world class ornithologist like Bob Ridgely, and working with world class artist like Guy Tudor has only made me better as a bird painter. But there is a huge difference between painting an illustration, and painting my own pieces. An illustration is solely for the audience, and their ability to compare my painting to the real bird. When I work on my own paintings, I’m recalling a personal experience with a bird, and I’m only trying to please myself.

How does your cultural background and environment impact your work?

I guess growing up in a somewhat poor Italian American family, I learned how to keep myself occupied by seeking out solitude in nearby wood lots, etc. My tight family life only encouraged my talent, and I fed off that.

Being a nature illustrator often featuring your pieces is nature journals and books how does your professional life work? Are you commissioned to capture specific specimens and then paid to travel in search or do you create your works and then auction them to publishers?

It takes many years to establish yourself as a capable bird painter. Only by honing your craft and proving that you can interpret your subjects in a convincing way and follow through a project in a timely way do you start getting noticed. It took me many, many years of doing small jobs, free work for nature organizations, and contacting publishers to get a major job as a field guide artist.
The initial contact is not from a publisher, but from the team creating the book; editor and the main artist. He is the one usually responsible for contacting other artists for the project.
Meeting Guy Tudor and Bob Ridgely was my biggest break, and that only came about after seeking such work, and being suggested as a capable artist. Once you get the job, you are usually assigned a group of birds group the editor, and then you work with them to make sure each bird is exactly correct.

Out of your published works which is your favourite and why?

Probably my recent work on the Birds of Brazil by Wildlife Conservation Society. I think they are some of the best bird plates I’ve ever done, thanks to the direction of Guy Tudor.

Part of series 'Birds of Brazil Vol.2' by Michael DiGiorgio

Part of series 'Birds of Brazil Vol.2' by Michael DiGiorgio

When you began as an illustrator how did you get your voice heard among the crowd?

Just ignoring everything and trying to become the best you can be. Being a professional bird painter is a profession next to impossible to make a living, so the ones who succeed are those who don’t give up and do it because they can’t help but to do it. Just find your own voice and learn to become your harshest critic. Once you learn to please yourself, then your ready to have your work out into the publishing world. 

Finally, what is your dream project?

Traveling and painting nocturnal birds like nightjars. They are among my favorite family of birds, and I’d love to travel to Africa and see them in the flesh.
After that it’s to have the time to paint my own work. I never seem to be able to break away from my illustration work long enough to do my own paintings.

Interview with Marco Melgrati | Inspiring Illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara OrdComment

Our series in inspiring illustrators continues with italian editorial illustrator Marco Melgrati. Marco began his professional career in 2013 and loves his work as an illustrator which gives him the freedom to live as a world traveller. Marco has lived in Italy, Mexico, Russia and currently Thailand all through his creative gift and career as an editorial illustrator.

Illustration on social media by Marco Melgrati

Illustration on social media by Marco Melgrati

Hello Marco, It is a pleasure to be interviewing you today. Your pieces are able to convey such a strong message with visual metaphors and juxtaposition in uncluttered compositions.

Your work is predominantly editorial based, hitting hard topics related to world events. Are you commissioned for specific pieces by magazines or do you follow current events and create art to action to publications?

I am commissioned to do my work through the art agency I work with. However I don’t only work on commissions, I work on personal work as well. And sometimes it works out that the personal work I create some one wants to use or buy.

How did you come across your style?

I took a short course in Milano on digital illustration with my friend and got really inspired by the work of my teacher Alessandro Gottardo, an example of his work being ‘Shout’. This illustration course really shifted my attention into editorial styled work.

I now work both traditionally and digitally. Most of my professional work being produced digitally however I do do paintings for clients. I am actually currently an artist in residence in Chang Mai (Thailand) working traditionally, oil on canvas. I love to paint but for the kind of work I do it is easier and time saving to do work digitally with just my laptop.

How long does it take you to finish a piece? Do you research heavily into the subject and stories you are trying to convey? Do you draft our several thumbnails before deciding on a final concept?

The length of time it takes for me to do my work often depends on the time buffer the client has given me. For instance I am currently working on an illustration for Amsterdam magazine and I was given 3 days. Which means one day for sketch and the rest for client review and final artwork. 

I like to do my work and then walk away for a time so when I return I can see more clearly my mistakes. I like to take my process slowly so I can get my work perfect. The style I do isn’t overly detailed and the style I do is simplistic and means that developing the final illustration once the concept is created is fairly quick.

Often the client will give me the article to work off or tell me a synopsis of the topic. After that I will research the topic online (especially if I find it fascinating) and search for images surrounding the topic to get a feel for the work I need to produce. After this I sketch out ideas and thumbnail sketches. After that I send a small selection of my sketches to the art director of the project, 3 to 4, I want to be as direct as possible and make the choice for the art director as easy as possible. Once the art director has selected their preferred sketch I create a final illustration for them.

Your colour selection within your works is very coherent and often limited to a small palette, do you plan your palettes or does you art just flow and have its own mind?

My colour palette is both planned and transforms with the art. I often pick small colours for a question of time. I want to make my image as impactful as possible with the simplest illustrative form. Too many colours make your work overly complicated and less colour helps you with creating a message and directing your viewers attention. In editorial you want an immediate reaction from your audience and control of colour makes this reaction easier to control.

Through an online store you sell prints and products featuring your illustration in a print on demand basis. How does this practice help or hinder your artistic career? Do you ever run into licensing issues with your work?

I sell my products online through Society 6. It is a nice way to have a little bit extra cash flow, I can decide how much money I want to make on my products and that just adds on the the companies price for the consumer. I try to keep my work as close to base price as I can.

Some people ask me to recreated traditional paintings and such on my prints I sell through my store, which I hop to one day offer. However I enjoy using the store because without the ease of print on demand I wouldn’t be able to offer these products and sell my work in this way. It is a way to make money on works I already have created. My store is not a main source of income and I could not live off it but it is a little bit of income audit just adds up overtime. 

I sell work I have previously done for magazines so creating store content is of no extra cost for me. Unless the magazine has asked specifically for the copyright I am free to use the image in anyway I want including selling it on to other buyers and clients. In most cases the magazine does not ask for the rights for the image.

How did you get into the editorial illustration sphere? How has your career progress to reach this point?

After the course in Milano I knew I wanted to do editorial illustration. Illustration was what I was good at. I can reach more people with this illustrations than with paintings in a gallery.

I started working professionally in 2009 in my home of Italy. It was almost impossible though because life is expensive in this part of the world and I was often having to find little jobs to flesh out my income and couldn’t concentrate on illustrate. 

I moved to be with my brother in Mexico city where the lifestyle was cheaper so I could live off my work, working through a US illustration agency. with just one piece of work I could survive for a month. In Mexico I could just focus on my work and improve and gain more clients, from here on it was only illustration work.

The only skill I have in my life is drawing and any way I can keep doing this as a profession I will.

Have you had formal training in your craft? if so can you tell us a bit about your experiences?

I did art in high school and went to an art college studying in fine art painting. After I did a short course in Milano in Digital Illustration in 2008 taught by Alessandro Gottardo. I have always done art and painting, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide this is what I will do.

does working professionally in illustration diminish some of your passion for the work you do?

You always love your work, but sometimes there are commissions which I am not interested in and although I try to make the best work I can even when the subject doesn’t interest me. 

Although as a whole I don’t think my passion has declined being a professional illustrator. Just knowing that your work isn’t just for you but for a wider audience keeps your passion alive and motivated.

How does your cultural background and environment impact your work?

My culture is not  huge impact on my work. I travel a lot but unless the illustration is about a specific place the place and culture aren’t a huge impact. The place I am isn’t a muse, however, the more you travel the more you see stuff from another point of view. 

You cannot tell where I am when I make my illustrations, I take advantage of my ability to travel with this career and my current life situation but it doesn’t greatly impact my work. I have been from Milano to Mexico, Russia, Lithuania,Thailand and on. I highly recommend travel, but more as a benefit to your life experience rather than your art.

Do you have advice for illustrators beginning their creative journey?

My advice is to keep working, keep trying. Until you try you don’t have a chance. Follow your passion but be realistic. Combine what you love with something that is professionally possible, you aren’t just creating art you are working in a profession. Adapt your passion to allow you to create a business and job from what you love. Leave yourself open to adapt a little bit and leave a little room for reality, this is the difference between a hobby and work.

Out of your published works which is your favourite and why?

My Favourite piece would be a political piece I did turning a politician into Pinocchio. I enjoyed creating it, it was humours and clever. I enjoyed doing this piece as the magazine it was illustrated for often has interesting philosophical topics which I enjoy.

Illustration on Political voice by Marco Melgrati

Illustration on Political voice by Marco Melgrati

When you began as an illustrator how did you get your voice heard among the crowd?

The start of an illustration career is very difficult. Many times I would send out work and no one would answer, it was a bit frustrating. My work started to flourish and increase when I found an illustration agency which found work and clients suited to me and sent it to me. Agencies take  percentage of your profits and advertise your skills and style in return to help you bring in work. Working with an agency was super valuable to begging my illustrative career. Now I can live while doing this work which is a dream. Being an illustrator and freelance is strange because you can be elated an excited with a lot of work to do and at times down when not much work is coming through the door, it is a strange work, very unpredictable.

Finally, what is your dream project?

My Dream is to do work for New York Magazine. I aim to improve my work, do work for magazines I love and find projects that challenge me. I have also been making tattoo designs for a friend and although tattoos are not fro me I have really enjoyed doing this as well.

Interview with Tamara Campeau | Inspiring illustrators

Inspiring IllustratorsCara OrdComment

Welcome everyone to the first interview in our new blog series 'Inspiring illustrators'. Every week we will have a new interview with a professional artist working in the ranging field of illustration. I am more than delighted to introduce illustrator Tamara Campeau as our first amazing professional, sharing with us her experience and passion for her craft.

Autumn Illustration by Tamara Campeau

Autumn Illustration by Tamara Campeau

Hello Tamara, welcome to the blog, I am looking forward to what you have to say.
What are some of the biggest challenges you find in being a professional artist?

Hi Cara, thank you for having considered me for this cool project of yours! I’m delighted to contribute.

To answer your first question, I would say first thing that comes to mind, the business side. Something I’m working still to perfect and become well versed in. Other then that, I would say sketching regularly sometimes could become a challenge because life just happens such as house chores, grocery shopping and errands etc. 

Your style is a combination of analogue and digital techniques, Can you run us through how you create an artwork from start to finish?

My process starts with a quick thumbnail in my sketchbook, something to get the general gesture and feel of the piece before taking the next step. I then create a cleaner version of my initial gesture, cleaning up the lines and adding detail as well as making more final decisions about the lights and darks of the piece. I will then take this more finished sketch and scan it into my computer to work into the image more on my Cintiq tablet. Sometimes I will work directly from my sketched line work and other times I will draw the line work digitally. I will then proceed to doing gray scale studies to figure out the lighting and contrast of the image. Once satisfied, I then research reference images relevant to the subject matter of my illustration in order to have a more accurate representation.  After all these steps are completed I then move on to the final stage that being color application. 

The whimsy of your work naturally lend itself to children’s book illustration? Was this always your intention or did you just fall into this category of illustration? 

No. When I first studied in illustration at Dawson College in Montreal (2004-2008), I did not know what I wanted to do. The program was pretty vague; they showed us a little bit of everything in the industry of illustration such as technical drawing, 3D modeling, narrative, editorial and many others. By the time I graduated I had an interesting skill set but yet I had no idea what I really wanted to pursue as an illustrator but I definitely knew I wanted to further my education in illustration or fine art. So I ended up taking some time off and traveled a bit. I can’t remember exactly the moment I knew I wanted to be a children book illustrator but I remember looking at books in the children section at the local library in downtown Vancouver, and realized I could do this type of work and it looked really fun to do. From that point on I became obsessed with children books and their illustrators and started researching that industry and working on my skill sets. Before going back to school in 2013, I had tried freelancing a bit as a children book illustrator for about a 1-2 year period while working odd jobs. I finally got my first gig to illustrate a book just a few months before starting university at Sheridan College. During my studies I had freelanced a tiny bit in the summers for small publishing companies and editorial. To conclude, not at first, but eventually children book illustration became my intention. 

Your work has a beautiful quality for story telling, how do you convey story in your illustrations? Do you have a system or advice for developing the world in your works?

Once I have an idea in mind and a thumbnail decided on. I will do a lot of research on my subject matter. Research is important because it makes your environment more believable to the viewer. When researching and thinking of the environment the character is living in and what he/she does in its everyday life I think of representational elements that would best describe the characters personality. I’m trying to describe who they are within the world they live in without using words. I leave it to the audience to put the pieces together. If they can, it means I have done my job properly in the end. My job being a visual communicator.

Where is your favorite place for creating?

Um well most of my work is done digitally, and I work on a 27 inch Cintiq, so I can’t really be mobile when I work on a finish piece. However, when working in my sketchbook, I do enjoy (with a nice coffee) drawing in café shops. Other then that, I like to doodle, while watching a movie/show, it’s relaxing and therapeutic for me. 

What is some advice you could give to artists starting their education or deciding whether to take part in professional art classes? As you have done several professional courses for illustration, did you find structured learning beneficial to your artistic practice?

I would say it depends on the person’s determination. There are many artists that are self taught and are very successful. But not everybody can do that. In my case, although very determined, structured learning was beneficial for me. But my maturity level also influenced my success as a student. When I first went to college and studied in illustration I was younger, early 20’s, and was not that serious about my education and it showed in my work. Having taken some time off made me realize what I really wanted to do. And that made of me an overall better student and me much more determined and focused when I went back to school. Therefore, I would advise, if you are uncertain about being an illustrator, if you can, wait! Take some time off. And really figure out what you want to study in first. Because once you do, you become that much more committed and focused on your education. Especially if the school your going to is going to be expensive make it worth the buck! For the most part, art schools are quite expensive!

If you had one key piece of advice that you would give an illustrator beginning their professional journey, what might it be?

Persistence. And draw everyday. I know it is a boring and simple answer but it is the truth. Especially drawing. Once your drawing skills get higher in caliber, everything else seems to fall in place to some degree.

What is some of the inspiration behind your work? 

I would say Disney movies definitely from the 90’s, such as Pocahontas, The Lion King, Hocus Pocus, Fantasia, Land before Time, A Bugs Life. In literature, Winnie the Pooh, The Bernstein Bears, Little Critter series. Especially Bernstein Bears and Little Critter I remember never really reading the words just holding the books close to my face and looking at all the details the artist would put in the illustrations and being so mesmerized by it. I would find other little stories happening in the backgrounds of the illustration aside from the main event. I love that so much. And when I can, I try to incorporate that concept in my own work.

Do you carry around a sketchbook at all times for those moment when inspiration hits? Also do you prefer to sketch analogue or digitally?

I do carry a tiny sketchbook with me in my bag. That said, for the most part I typically set a place and time for sketching only. I definitely prefer to sketch traditionally then digitally. I work digitally primarily when it is to create and finish an illustration.

Out of your professional and personal works which is your favourite and why?

I like a few of my personal pieces. Two pieces I did recently actually, about autumn. A top view of a girl laying down in a bed of fall leafs and another top view of the same girl looking in a puddle of water. I like them because they are simpler then my typical work. It was a bit of a challenge because I had to holdback sometimes but none the less they were fun to create. Other reason why I enjoy them is the concept behind them and my use of negative space. And lastly, one piece I still enjoy is one I created last year around the holidays for a school related greeting card competition. The theme was holidays. I did a toy storefront view and theirs a mother and her boy and their dog looking through the window on a winter night. I really like this piece because of the narrative, and also I was able to really play with lighting and warm colors versus cool colors.

Christmas card Illustration by Tamara Campeau

Christmas card Illustration by Tamara Campeau

Did you always intend to be an illustrator, how did you know it was the right career for you? When starting out did you partner your creative work with part-time jobs to help kick start your work financially?

When I first went to college in Montreal, I had applied in a fine arts program and I got rejected. That really hurt at first and I was starting to question my existence! As a result, I went in a general visual arts program. In the first year, I came across these students that were selling artwork in the hallway. Different types of artwork I had never seen before on different surfaces and rendered in different ways. At the time for some reason when I thought of art, I thought it was only drawing and painting. I remember seeing this alligator rendered on a black scratchboard, it was so beautiful. I asked the student selling what is this for?, he replied, ‘oh were selling this work to raise funds for our Illustration grad show ’ I was like what? Illustration what is that?.  Anyways I researched the school curriculum about the classes this program offered and was immediately amazed and in love. The following year is when my illustration journey began! 

Finally, what is your dream project?

As weird as this sound, I never thought of a dream project. I’m always focused on just being an illustrator and getting work. I guess I should think of that. However, I would like to eventually illustrate a children’s book for Scholastic. Does that count as a dream projectish? 

If you would like to know more about Tamara and her beautiful work please head to one of the below links.

Portfolio  www.tamaracampeau.com

Instagram  #tamaracampeauillustration

Society 6 Shop   https://society6.com/tamaracampeauillustration 

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/tamarasillustrations/  

Behance  https://www.behance.net/tamaracampeau 

 

 

Welcome to Cara Ord Create

Cara OrdComment

I am so very excited to unveil to you the start of something new. Welcome to my website, the little corner of the internet that I will be calling home. 

Feel free to peruse through the content I currently have to offer, take a look at some of my works and what I can offer you within my design and illustration business. I would like to thank all my current clients for helping me get to this point and invite all those of you here in cyber space to feel free in contacting me to chat, throw around ideas and create something new. 

We can only grow from here. Look forward to a fantastic blog series interviewing brilliant illustrators coming to you in January and a shop of works launching later 2018. Also stay tuned for a page for all things wedding and events for those of you who want something special for your big day. 

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