Welcoming a Busy-Eyed Kidlit Illustrator!
Whenever I get sent a text, the way I know it is right for me is that I am immediately hit with an urge to start drawing. I found the sweet jollity of Anne Marie’s text instantly appealing and all I wanted to do was to start creating the characters of the two siblings. My mind led itself into the oasis of a city park and I wanted to get drawing as soon as I could.
How did you do to get into the spirit of the story so you could tell it authentically?
This project was the first thing I came back to after my maternity leave for my first baby. For the three months previous, I had spent pretty much everyday pushing around my new-born in our local park. She was considerate enough to be born in June so thankfully my walks were taken through the summer months.
My local park is huge and is right in the middle of Brixton in South London. If you walk to the top of the hill you can look back over the expanse of the city and see the imposing and impressive Skyline of London, while still surrounded by bird song and greenery. I used this time to take reference photos of trees and other elements of a city park that I could work from later on. Although the park in BUSY-EYED DAY isn’t directly based on my local park, it undoubtedly influenced by it!
Do tell! What was your illustrative process?
All picture books usually start with a storyboard so you are able to map out the pages before you start the actual illustrations. This is an integral bit at this point, allowing you to nail the narrative, and that makes the illustrative process a lot easier later down the line. I also spent a while trying to get the characters right. After this I would create rough pencil sketches that I would scan into my computer and work on digitally to create a collage layered look. I'd then add textures to achieve my final colour spreads. All of this is done within Photoshop. I used a mixture of scanned in mediums, such as paint textures, and also Photoshop brushes to achieve the end result.
Describe how you and your art director, NAME, worked together on BUSY-EYED DAY.
Creating a book is such a collaborative project. Often you will send your art director all of the storyboards that they then comment on and there is a lot of back and forth to get them to a place you are all happy with. I then started on the first round of “rough” illustrations. This took me a few months and, when I felt I was in a good place with these, I sent them off to the publisher. This is always such an interesting and nerve-wrecking point as, once they have been shown around to the appropriate people at the publisher, you receive back all the comments. When illustrating someone else’s text, this is also the point where they first see the interpretations of their words and I am always nervous to hear their thoughts!
What are your plans for launching this book?
As I don’t live in the States, I am slightly removed from directly launching BUSY-EYED DAY in bookshop events or schools. The book isn’t currently being published in the UK, so my main aim is to support it on lovely blogs like this one and also to make use of social media to get it noticed in the world!
Order your copy of BUSY-EYED DAY from an indie near you.