Monday, 6 January 2020

Welcome to the Family, Joseph Namara Hollis!

Illustrator, Aspiring Snazzy Vegetable-Grower, Ninja-in-Training: have a read about our new Plum Joseph Namara Hollis! 


Where do you live/work?
I’m based in a village on the outskirts of Nottingham. I work from home in a little cottage.

What do you like about working there?
My partner Julia (who is also an illustrator) usually isn’t too far away. So I can always call the cavalry if I need an extra pair of eyes on a job.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I tend to draw in a way that allows me to be playful and respond to text organically.
I always like to designate time for the subconscious to work it magic, this usually means
exploring ideas on big pieces of throw-away paper without too much consideration. Exciting
things can happen when you’re feeling carefree and spontaneous. It’s absolutely necessary to return to these piles of drawings with fresh eyes after some rest and cherry pick the drawings that still agree with me when I’m being more critical. From there I’ll compile my work and colour digitally. I make my own digital brushes based on mark-making and textures I’ve made in the print room so that the digital part of the process still feels organic and experimental.

Part of Joseph's illustration process
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love the boundless opportunities to create, invent and nourish the imagination. When I’m deeply engrossed in drawing I often enter a flow state which feels immensely fulfilling and therapeutic.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
No favouritism but my characters appear to be going to great lengths on journeys of self
discovery so hats off to them because I’m finding it all very helpful.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I enjoy drawing animals most, there’s something humorous and surprising when they capture a human expression. Thinking about it, anthropomorphising anything is an absolute delight.

An illustration from Bear's New Hair by Joseph Namara Hollis

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I like searching for mushrooms and training to be a ninja.

What or who are you most inspired by?
There’s too many wonderful inspiring people to list only one so let's go with nature. The
symbiotic relationships in nature show us it's entirely possible for everyone and everything to work together.

How did you get into illustration?
I think it's probably more a case of not getting out of illustration. “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up” -Picasso

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Ah, spoilt for choice! The list would be too long. But Ben Shahn and Saul Steinberg are two of my old favourites.

Works of Ben Shahn and Saul Steinberg

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1) Don’t think too much.
2) Learn some yoga and meditation.
3) Remember to leave the house.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I liked anything by Richard Scarry.

What was the last book you read? What did you think?
I tend to dip into several books intermittently. There’s lots of books under my bed (I’m not sure that's good Feng Shui). Recently I finished David Lynch’s Catching The Big Fish. I’m
impressionable, it made me think; wow I’d better go meditate, draw, then watch a David Lynch film to celebrate. By the time I had finished drawing I was ready for bed, at this point, the thought of a David Lynch film was too taxing.

What are your aspirations for the next year?
I hope I can share more of my passion for illustration and the creative process with others.
Meanwhile growing some snazzy vegetables.

What’s your ultimate dream?
Ultimately the dream is to draw as much as possible, but if I can do that closer to an organic
vegetable patch, some indian runner ducks, a log burner and perhaps a border collie in an
off-grid earthship that would be grand.

Welcome to the family, Joseph!

Friday, 20 December 2019

Welcome to the Family, Isobel Lundie!

Find out more about the life of our new Plum, Isobel Lundie! 

Where do you live/work?
I’m a Worthing based illustrator and work as a designer and illustrator in Brighton at an independent publishers named Salariya.

What do you like about working there?
The best part of the job for me is the freedom to suggest my own ideas for exciting new projects.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?I love creating books where every character no matter how minor has its own personality. I think it’s important for readers to read beyond the text and find jokes and stories within the illustrations.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I will usually start projects by pinteresting nice colour schemes. I will always draw my roughs in pencil and draw over and over and over them using my lightbox. I eventually get something that I like.



What or who are you most inspired by?
I love exploring new countries. I love looking in the local supermarkets at foreign food packaging. I often find the colours and design ideas really inspiring. 

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Absolutely obsessed by Julia Sarda and Rebecca Green. They both work in a style that it so different to mine but hides so many amazing details in the scenes of their illustrations.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
This changes on a weekly basis but at the moment it’s sassy dancing cats.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I did a ‘women in science’ book about Jane Goodall.  I know she’s a real person rather than a character but it was nice drawing someone who has done so much to inspire other ambitious women.



What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I’m a keen netball player and play in some leagues around where I live. I’m quite a competitive person.

How did you get into illustration?
I actually was originally planning on being a fine artist after a teen obsession with Lucien Freud. Once I got over him, I started experimenting with making characters and I fell into illustration.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
If you have an idea that you think is good always do it even if it’s only for yourself. Always work as hard as you can because then you won’t regret being lazy and try to absorb as much information from editors as possible because they’re usually quite wise.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I loved Roald Dahl's revolting rhymes I found and still find them hilarious. I am also of the Harry Potter generation and think Jim Kay has my dream job.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I just finished My sister the serial killer which was so blunt and funny. 

What are your aspirations for the next year?
I would love to make more picture books. I’ve only recently made my first one and I’ve already fallen in love with it.

What’s your ultimate dream?
To get in a time machine and go and watch Amy Winehouse while she was still on the Frank album. Love her. 


Welcome to the family, Isobel!

Monday, 2 December 2019

Welcome to the Family, Kim Hankinson!

Take a look below at our chat with new illustrator Kim Hankinson! 


Where do you live/work?
I live in leafy North London, and have a desk space in Daslton. I like London as you can explore the same city but feel like you're in completely different places.

What do you like about working there?
Mostly the fact that I get to be around talented people and come across so much other gorgeous work. There are lots of screen printers and so I’m looking forward to doing more of that when there's time!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I have lots of ideas, so I love to be able to write them down and sketch them up. It's great turning random ideas you’ve had fizzing away into something someone else can understand.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I’ll often just have an idea and do a very quick sketch. Then I take a pic with my phone and drop it straight onto the computer so I can get it on there as quickly as possible…I always want to get the colours and shapes I’ve imagined down fast. I tend to get ideas when I’m walking somewhere, so I scribble them down as soon as I get to a pen and paper!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I also like drawing girls stroppy faces - because you don't always have to smile! I love blobby shapes and bright contrasting colours too.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
My ninja tigress. I would be a highly ineffective ninja.



What or who are you most inspired by?
Mostly just from life and world around me… if I’m briefed it's the text from an author leads the way, when you get good text to work with you know at and its so inspiring. Sometimes though, I’ll just have a silly thought and just want to illustrate that, or I’ll read or hear about something I want to learn about and think might be interesting to other people, and so work that up into a design.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Not really, I’ve always been inspired by Japanese art and love Ryo Takemasa’s work, and then love modern quirky pattern and shape like artwork by Tess Smith Roberts or Lisa Congdon. I love Matisse's shapes and colours, and also cold war graphics from around the world.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I love a good walk meandering around London visiting museums, cinemas, and galleries. I also went for a walk in the Himalayas last year, thats the other extreme of the walks! I listen to lots of podcasts on politics and science and I like to cook… always happiest when eating! I like a lido in winter and do some yoga to try and stay a bit more zen than I actually am!

How did you get into illustration?
I studied graphic art and design at University where I focussed on illustration and screen printing. I moved into design for children in licensing, then books. Over the last year or two and I put some time into building a new portfolio based on the work I wanted to do for me and really things have grown from there.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1) Start with the work you want to make and work hard at it.
2) Don't be afraid of putting work out there.
3) Remember you can't please everyone.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I loved Where the Wild things and really vividly remember Eric Carl's books from being really small. I also loved a poetry anthology of Poems selected by Micheal Rosen. It had some very creepy and detailed water colour illustrations of skeletons in caves and weird creatures… I don't know the illustrator but I was fascinated by those drawings when I was little.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I’ve literally just started the Testaments by Margaret Atwood, but I usually buy books that have some connection with foreign cultures and history, so really like buying fiction from Stanfords in London where you get stories connected with travel

What are your aspirations for the next year?
I just try to work hard and be happy today to be honest!


Welcome to the family, Kim! 

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Katarina Gasko!

We had a great chat with our new Plum Katarina Gasko about her life as an illustrator!



Where do you live?
I live in Ontario in Canada in the city of London. Yes, I know, it’s funny that we have a London in Canada, it’s a little bit more snowy than rainy here. I work from a room in my home.

What do you like about working there?
I enjoy working in the room in my home because it is a quiet place, I like my chair and my large white table and I have a beautiful view from the big window that I face.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love having the ability to create and draw my own characters. I enjoy being able to interact with individuals from publishing houses to create something fantastic from a simple idea, to a sketch and into a final product that we envisioned. 

How do you work — what are your techniques?
I work digitally. My technique is to begin by creating a sketch, and then using it to turn it into a final illustration.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
My favourite things to draw are children, animal toys, cars, insects, buildings, nature and busy cities. I enjoy drawing these because I am able to play around with them in many fun ways!

Do you have one favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
There is this one bug that I absolutely love. The bug looks bizarre, because it has red pants, wears a yellow t-shirt and has blue sneakers. 




What or who are you most inspired by?
My inspirations come from many other brilliant artists, from everyday things that life brings, from humorous situations, from photography and from the places that I have visited.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I have many favourite illustrators, but I admire Marija Lucija Stupica Richard Scarry, Marc Boutavant and Dušan Petričić. 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 
As I work alone on the daily, I like to go out with my friends, to the park and go on trips with my husband and two daughters when I have free time. One of my favourite things to do is to go to Toronto on a day trip, I love the city and I enjoy observing how people interact, live and act in the big city. 

How did you get into illustration?
I studied arts and illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in the city of Bratislava in Slovakia. After graduation, I moved to Canada with my husband and daughter. I then slowly started to create a portfolio for myself, I uploaded some of my very first illustrations on the Association of Illustrators (ASIL) and after a while, publishers began contacting me. After that, I started illustrating my first children’s books and educational books and magazines.

What are your top three tips for aspiring illustrators?
Firstly, you must always make a good sketch and do research before you move on to the final illustration.
Secondly, don’t forget to believe in yourself, especially when it gets tough.
Lastly, push through, and withstand what pulls you back from achieving the progress you want!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I used to love reading and playing with board books! I liked books that had a lot of details in the illustrations, I enjoyed seeing a busy setting and trying to figure out what was going on. Books from Richard Scarry were some of my favourite books ever, and still are! I also really like a lot of illustrations from former Yugoslavian artists, I really like their style and I still remember one of the books, it was titled Kako se radi Kuta? It means, “how do you make a house?”

What was the last book you read? What did you think?
The last book that I read was the one that I just finished illustrating! It was an adventurous love story. I really loved the style of writing that was used in the book, however it made me realize that I had a lot of work to do on this book. Since the book was very adventurous and detailed, I had to constantly imagine and create a new scenery, new action and movement and new characters. Instead of reading, I love listening to the radio, and I especially enjoy tuning into podcasts that interview individuals. I like to hear the story of someone's life, their good times and their bad times, and how they have dealt, or are dealing with it. I find myself listening to podcasts like these very often when I am working. 

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
I have to work on and finish some of the projects that I have recently started, then I plan to take a break from work to be with my family, to have some fun and to eat good food!

What’s your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is what I am doing right now! But maybe on the next level. I want to continue to illustrate children's books, work on new and interesting projects and be satisfied with the work that I do. I also envision myself meeting new colleagues, attracting more publishers and creating something that will be very worthy and valuable to me.


Welcome to the family, Katarina!

Monday, 4 November 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Brittany Lakin!

One of our new Plum family members and 2nd place runner up in the Plum Awards, Brittany, had a chat to us about her life an an illustrator!


Where do you live/work?
I’ve moved around a bit but I’m currently living in Woking! 

What do you like about working there?
I’ve not lived there for long so I’ve been having a great time seeing new sights and meeting new people. Everything feels fresh and interesting and I’m having a good time exploring the surrounding areas. 

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
That I can create anything through the power of pencils! I’ve always loved to draw, even as a kid, and I’m so happy to know that I can make it my career as well. 

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Nature is a big favorite of mine, forests seem like such an interesting and versatile setting. From fairies to spooky ghosts I can really play around with what I like. Having lived in cities and suburban areas more recently I suspect that deep down I’m craving some greenery! I also really love anything with myths and legends, it’s a lot of fun interpreting them in my own designs and giving them my own twists. 


How do you work – what are your techniques?
Typically I sketch up rough ideas and research nifty little facts that would be fun to incorporate into my work. Then for the actual artwork I use a combination of pencils and inks to create interesting textures before finishing it off in Photoshop. 


How did you get into illustration?
Like with most illustrators I always loved art! Me, my sister, my mother and grandmother used to have little craft days where we would just make stuff for the sake of it. Once I discovered illustration was a career path I could follow I’ve had my heart set on it since. 

Do you have a particular favorite character that you’ve illustrated?
I have one particular character I created back when I was at university, a bee called Bumble. Bumblebees are my favorite animals and it was great fun creating such a tiny wholesome character based off all my bee research. 

What or who are you most inspired by?
Mainly myths/legends and nature, I love taking little facts and turning it into an interesting detail in my work. I also have a growing collection of picture books illustrated by artists that I admire that all sit on a shelf in my room. Sometimes if I’m in need of a good drawing warm up I like to take old paintings and redraw them in my own style too!




Do you have a favourite illustrator?
So many artists! There are people like Emily Hughes and Isabelle Arsenault who are fantastic with mark making, texture and colour and are very big inspirations to me. I also love the black and white work of David Roberts, and the humorous pieces by Scott Campbell. 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I have big fondness for movies! I enjoy trivia about them; perhaps if I didn’t get into illustration, film would have been a path I’d go down. I also enjoy video games, and recently I’ve gotten into a bit of geocaching! 

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
-       1) Keep experimenting! This is especially great if you’re struggling with your style direction, but it’s also a great way to generate new fresh ideas. 
-       2) It’s ok to take a break. It’s easy to get burnt out when you’re working hard on a project. Take a walk, change your scenery, even look at a different project or draw for yourself – you’ll feel a lot better after. 
-       3) Surround yourself with inspiration. I like to keep my desk space fresh an interesting, it really helps me get into my workflow an gives me ideas for experimentation. 

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
Meg and Mog, Winnie the Witch, The Worst Witch I was a big fan of anything spooky! It was so hard to find as a kid and I’ve always wanted to make sure that when I became an illustrator I would make stuff that I wish I could have read more of as a kid. I also remember adoring the art in the Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; I loved all the small details in them. 

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I’m currently rereading Faerie Tale by Raymond E Feist! It’s a nice blend of horror and magic - dark faerie mythology is a weakness of mine and it’s great to have another book to add to my collection. 

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
I really want to knuckle down on my work and get working on new projects! Recently I’ve been experimenting with clay and it would be great to get a little shop going.

What’s your ultimate dream?
I would love to be able to go into a bookstore and see my own work sitting on a shelf! 



Welcome to the family, Brittany!

Friday, 1 November 2019

Shooting for the Stars at the Irish Book Awards!

We are very excited to announce that Shooting for the Stars, written by Dr Norah Patten and illustrated by our Plum Jennifer Farley, has been shortlisted for Children’s Book of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards! 


The Irish Book Awards was founded in 2006 by Derek Hughes, and the main message was
“to celebrate the extraordinary quality of Irish writing, to help bring the best books to a wider readership annually, and to promote an industry under intense competitive pressures." (https://www.irishbookawards.irish/about/)


Since the awards’ conception, the three initial categories have grown to eighteen categories each representing a different genre in the world of literature, and the general public of readers vote for the winners each year. The Awards has become more popular each year, and highlights of the Awards Dinner have been shown on RTÉ television since 2011. In 2018, headline sponsorship passed from Bord Gáis Energy to An Post. 

https://www.irishbookawards.irish


Jennifer Farley has been a part of the Plum Pudding family since April 2017, and we just love her expressive characters and eye-catching non-fiction work!

Shooting for the Stars (published by O'Brien Press in September 2019) follows Norah’s journey into the world of astronauts and space. In 2017 she was selected to take part in Project Possum, a scientist-astronaut training programme, and she is now on her way to becoming Ireland’s first astronaut!

The book takes the reader on an exciting journey through space, with fantastic illustrations by Jennifer that show what astronauts do to prepare for a space mission, what life is like in space, and what the astronauts do on spacewalks:






You can vote for your favourite books from the shortlist of the An Post Irish Book Awards now, at https://www.irishbookawards.irish/vote2019/.

Voting closes at 6pm on 13th November 2019, and the Book Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held on Wednesday 20th November 2019 in The Convention Centre, Dublin. For more infotmation visit https://www.irishbookawards.irish/2019-ceremony-tickets/

Best of luck to Norah, Jennifer, and all the other brilliant nominees!