Monday, 15 October 2018

Welcome to the Plum Family, Richard Smythe!

Illustrator Richard Smythe has recently joined the Plum family - read on to find out a little more about him!



Where do you live/work?
I live in a fairly quiet corner of Sussex, England. I work in the smallest room of our house which has paint on the walls and lots of pieces of paper and materials scattered about.

What do you like about working there?
It’s a stone’s throw away from the Ashdown Forest (Winnie the Pooh country!) which is a really nice place to walk around and sketch. I’ve lived in Sussex for most my life, so it’s always been familiar to me but am always taken aback by the wildlife and nature you can see in the forest.


What do you love most about being an illustrator?
For me with illustrating picturebooks it’s how they can be loved and treasured for years and years afterwards. I still remember the books I loved as a child, and I think having the opportunity to be part of that for someone else is really special. 

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I usually draw or paint with watercolour and pencils, scan them in to Photoshop and see what happens. Everything starts with a sketch and some washes of colour. If I think it’s going to work then I’ll scan it into the computer and finish it off digitally. 



What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
It changes all the time. My favourite subject matter for illustration is usually animals. But lately I have been studying the figure in my spare time. I have gone back to doing life drawing which I find very challenging but a lot of fun.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I recently finished a book about a self-conscious giraffe. I think she is my favourite for now. 

What or who are you most inspired by?
I take inspiration from a lot of sources, I like different kinds of art. I love animals and the funny things they do, especially my dog – a rather highly strung (but very loveable) German Shepherd.



Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Raymond Briggs. I loved the fact that ‘The Snowman’ picturebook was set near to where we lived. I’ve always thought his work had a wonderfully delicate and dream-like feel to it.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
When I’m not illustrating I paint and exhibit original oil paintings with galleries around the UK – normally landscapes of Sussex, but sometimes other things too. I like martial arts and keeping fit. I like to read and to be with my family.



How did you get into illustration?
I always loved to draw and paint as a child, and when it came to selecting a university course my art tutor encouraged me to pursue something creative. I didn’t listen and stupidly ended up doing computer science of all things. It didn’t last long as I am terrible at maths, so I dropped out. Feeling rather distraught I remembered what my tutor had said. So I swapped courses and never looked back.

What are your top three tips for aspiring illustrators? 
1 – Learn the fundamentals and practice lots.
2 – Do what you enjoy the most, it’s what you’ll do best
3 -  Keep learning new things and pushing your craft forward.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
‘The Snowman’ by Raymond Briggs is my favourite picturebook, and I also loved ‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkien, ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ by Lynne Reid Banks, ‘Swallows and Amazons’ By Arthur Ransome and anything by James Herriot.

What was the last book you read? What did you think of it? 
‘The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius’. The last year or so I’ve been reading a lot of western philosophy. It’s really interesting to read the differences in philosophical thinking and I especially liked Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism in general. It was quite easy to read and understand compared with Plato and the like.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
Really just to keep working hard, learning new things and making new ground where I can. The best thing about art is that you are a student for life and there is always opportunity to improve. There is never a dull moment really, always so much more to learn. 

What’s your ultimate dream?
To carry on illustrating picturebooks.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Welcome to the Plum Family, Jo Lindley!

We're excited to welcome our first Archistrator (architect and illustrator) to the Plum family- Jo Lindley! Find out a little more about her below:




Where do you live/work?
London. My home is in Streatham but I create most of my work in my studio in a railway arch near Brixton, fuelled by tea and spurred along by musical soundtracks.

Jo’s studio

What do you like about working there?
I share the studio with six wonderful people and the cutest little dog, Piglet. We all work in very different fields, from filmmakers to translators, writers to historians, which makes for a dynamic atmosphere.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Solving the riddle of how a new character should look.

This is Addie (papergirl / hard-hitting, investigative journalist) and her pug, Bonbon

How do you work – what are your techniques?
My technique for developing a character always starts the same. Whether it’s human or animal, I first sketch from photos to get a sense of anatomy and proportions. Surrounding myself with these drawings, I then develop my own interpretation, choosing which features to exaggerate and which to ignore, depending on its personality. I then work up character studies, looking at its different poses, emotions and accessories.

Bat + alligator + lizard = dragon

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I love to draw anything with a comical edge to it. I use illustration as an outlet for my silly sense of humour.



Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
Stig – the caveman. He is so fascinated by the world around him, and I love translating that into his expressions and poses.



What or who are you most inspired by?
My sister inspires me all the time. She’s raising her children and studying at the same time. I’m in awe of her dedication. Plus, she still finds the energy to be my most enthusiastic and supportive fan!

Jo (right) with her sister, Claire

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
It’s impossible to choose a favourite, but I really like Benji Davies, Emma Yarlett, Rebecca Green and Alex T Smith, to name but a few, plus a whole load of my fellow Plum Puddingers.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Visiting my friends and family dotted around the country, going to the theatre to see (you guessed it) musicals, playing badminton and softball and hiking in amazing places.

Jo confronting a goat in the mountains of northern Spain.


How did you get into illustration?
Art was a huge part of my childhood, but when I went to university, it pretty much disappeared from my life – until a few years ago when I decided to crack open the old watercolours. Not knowing what to paint, I started with some blobs on a page, which I then added faces to. Making characters out of nothing was so much fun that I haven’t stopped since. I took illustrations courses at CityLit and Make Art That Sells. They were so inspiring and gave me the tools I needed to become a visual storyteller.

Jo practicing the long lost art of ballet-drawing

Front cover created for assignment on illustration course (Make Art That Sells)

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1.    Take an illustration course, if you can. There are so many options out there to suit all budgets and time constraints.
2.    Start collecting picture books that inspire you. Delve deep into how they vary the scale, composition, colour palette and contrast to help tell the story.
3.    Experiment with different mediums until you find the tools that suit you best. But never stop sketching on real paper if you go digital.

Real paper sketching in Italy

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I was a “reluctant reader”, but I made an exception for anything Roald Dahl, The Witches in particular. I loved the humour and gore – my taste hasn’t changed much since then.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I read The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch, one of his Rivers of London spin-offs. Admittedly, it was an odd choice given that I’ve not read Rivers of London and I hadn’t realized it was going to be so supernatural, but I did enjoy the concept of the Metropolitan line being haunted.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
To get a children’s book illustration commission would blow my mind.

What’s your ultimate dream?
To become a household name and to see something I’ve created in a bookshop window display.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Welcome to the Plum Family, Emma Haines!

Have a read of our latest post and get to know our new illustrator, Emma Haines!



Where do you live/work?
I live in Leicestershire in the Midlands with my dog and boyfriend and I work in our pretty teeny spare bedroom that I’ve turned into a studio.

What do you like about working there?
I like that I can work with no make up snuggling Lola Peanut the French Bulldog. She likes to stare me out until I give up and take her for a walk. We’re really near a country park full of deer so we nip there for walkies most days which is lovely.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love most that I can count drawing an octopus with glasses ‘work’ sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am that I can make a living from something I would want to do for free anyway.

How did you get into illustration?
I got into illustration but loving art since I was a kid. I always got these wooden boxes of art equipment from WH Smiths for Christmas and that started me off. Eventually I ended up on an illustration course and that was it!



How do you work – what are your techniques?
I love to work mainly on the Mac. I love to collect loads of reference then I make basic blocks of shapes which I build to make my creatures and then I add as much lovely texture as I can get away with.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I don’t have an actual favourite because I love so many but Jon Klassen an Oliver Jeffers for their sense of humour, Paper & Cloth design studio for their general stunning-ness and Corby Tindersticks (Carly Gledhill) for her originality.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I draw a unicorn on a rainbow that makes me pretty happy. She looks sassy.



What or who are you most inspired by?
I have a print and pattern background so my artwork is heavily inspired by trends in that area and also my boyfriend Will constantly inspires me. We do lots of lovely creative things together which keeps me inspired.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
In my spare time I like to watch bake off, go for walks, go shopping and start craft projects and forget to finish them. I have recently finished a large stretch of making pom pom wreaths but our small house can no longer fit anymore in.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I like drawing animals the best. I particularly like putting them in party hats.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1.Don’t give up, keep going, even when it’s tough.
2.Use what colours make you happy.
3.You can change style whenever you like, if something isn’t working just do something new. I specialised in collage when I was at uni and it all looked hideous so I worked on having a new style.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
My favourite books were anything by Roald Dahl and The Velveteen Rabbit.
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
The last book I read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne which broke my heart a bit.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
Be more zen and to work on some children's picture books.

What’s your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is to be less stressy, to go on holiday to the US and have slightly bigger house with a very practical drive

Monday, 10 September 2018

Proud Plums- Shortlisted Nominations for the 2018 North Somerset Teachers' Book Award

Many congratulations to our illustrators Christine Pym and Jonny Lambert, whose books Goat's Coat and Look Out, It's a Dragon! have both been shortlisted in the 2018 North Somerset Teachers' Book Award!

The North Somerset Teachers' Book Award was founded by the 'Just About Books' teachers' book group, and 'was born out of a desire to celebrate the very best in children's literature' ( -North Somerset Teachers' Book Award).

The North Somerset Teachers' Book Award was founded by the 'Just About Books' teachers' book group, and 'was born out of a desire to celebrate the very best in children's literature' ( -North Somerset Teachers' Book Award)


Just About Books is linked to the 'Federation of Children's Book Groups' North Somerset branch, and they meet regularly to discuss a children's literature. After being asked for many recommendations for books to use in the classroom and at home, the group made a decision to create an award to 'support teachers in the role they play in developing reading for pleasure and creating life long readers.' (-North Somerset Teachers' Book Award).

There are 6 categories in the award that incorporate all formats of text: 

To read more about the award and categories, visit the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award website here: http://www.northsomersetteachersbookaward.com/about/ 

A huge congrats again to our illustrators for this fantastic nomination, from some very proud Plums! 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

A Chat with New Illustrator Jessica Martinello!

Get to know the lovely Jessica Martinello, Plum Pudding's newest illustrator!



Where do you live/work?
I live in Rossano Veneto, a small town in the countryside near Bassano del Grappa, with my cat Matita, my dog Speck and my family; I’m working in my own studio which is also my bedroom!

Jessica's studio

What do you like about working there?
I love working at home because I can decide how and when I feel like working. For creating you have to be inspired, which is something that doesn't happen every day or at any moment. I love to be a free person, even though it is not always so simple! I really appreciate the company of my pets and the view from my window!

The views from Jessica's window

How did you get into illustration?
I always loved drawing and art, but I didn't know that it could be a profession until I was 20. After the university in Venice, where I studied Art, I was so lucky to discover an Academy of Digital Arts in Florence, where I got in touch with illustration and animation as profession for the first time. In that moment I found my way, and there I met my second family with my teachers and friends.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I think that what I love most about being an illustrator is that my work is also my passion. To write stories and to paint makes me able to travel far away, without taking a step outside my studio (and wearing my pyjamas, if I want!)

How do you work – what are your techniques?
Usually I mix different techniques. The first step is the sketch, then I paint with watercolors. I complete my illustration digitally with my tablet, using Photoshop.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I have a lot of favourite illustrators! But at the top of my list are Chuck Groenink, Isabelle Arsenault, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Benji Davies, Jenni Desmond, Conrad Roset and Marta Alt├ęs.

What or who are you most inspired by?
I'm inspired by what happens all around me every day, and by my adventures when I was a little girl! I'm inspired by many other illustrators and artists, by my cat and by books that I read. But when I'm not inspired at all, there is just one film that can help me: Big Fish (Tim Burton). It is a box full of imagination!

Meet Speck and Matita!


What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Read a lot and taking long walks into the nature. And I travel every time I have the possibility to do that!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I love drawing animals! All kind of animals, but probably the animasl I love to draw the most are bears, cats and dogs! I love to simplify shapes and animals are really funny and expressive!


Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I don't know if he is my favourite, but there is one that I love and he is a kind of symbol for me: a little white bunny with a red backpack that arrived on the top of the moon!
And, I also love the little tiger that make me so lucky this year!



What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Well, I'm still an aspiring illustrator :) but…
First NEVER GIVE UP! There are days that you don't believe in yourself and in your abilities, I know, but every illustrator or artist has these bad days! Go on, tomorrow will be better!
The second tip is to be curious and look around you! Nature and every day life inspire you and help you with shapes, composition and colour palettes.
And the last one is to practice and practice with passion!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I used to love Alice in Wonderland for so many years!! I have a lot of differents editions of it. But when I was younger my favourite books probably were Harry Potter and Six Little Friends (a story by Peter Holeinone)- an illustrated edition. But I was also a fan of the horror series Goosebumps :)

What was the last book you read? What did you think?
I love reading! The last one was The Bronze Horseman  by Paulina Simons. It's a love story set in 1941, Leningrado. Absorbing, heart breaking and well-written. (I'm romantic!)! I recommend it!

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
Next autumn 2 of my books will be published! One as illustrator, the other one as author!
So, my aspirations for the rest of 2018 are to have new projects to work on that could be published next year! I keep my fingers crossed!

What’s your ultimate dream?
I know that my ultimate dream is to live in front of the ocean, with someone I love.
During the day I would like to write my stories and illustrate them for publishers all over the world, and watch at the stars during the night.


Welcome to the Plum family, Jessica!