Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Amberin Huq!


We're going to need a bigger punnet... we're thrived to welcome our newest Plum to the family, Amberin Huq! Get to know more about her here:


Where do you live/work?
I live just outside of London in my flat which also doubles as my studio. It's small but cosy and on a street filled with trees. It also gets the sun the entire day which is lovely when the sun is actually out from behind those dreary clouds!  

What do you like about working there?
I like working there because it's very quiet and I have easy access to snacks. Having the place to myself also means that I can listen to my most out there podcasts about aliens and bermuda triangles without being judged. But also it means that there are zero distractions from other people which allows me to get immersed in a project. 

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I have always loved stories. When I was younger I loved reading them and I loved writing them. So for as long as I remember I have always wanted to tell stories and illustrating allows me to do that. 

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Anything spooky! I grew up watching the x-files (probably not age appropriate at the time) and reading point horror and goosebumps so that's my true love. Along with anything adventure based! More recently I have gotten into creating diverse characters, growing up in a world where most characters didn't look like myself, it's nice to be able to change that in my own work! 

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I am a digital artist. I used to work traditionally but moved to digital a couple of years ago. Sometimes I start in my sketchbook though if i'm tired of looking at my screen. And then I usually layer details over the top of the rough with line and colour until i'm happy with how things look. If i'm not sure about things I will take lighting and colour cues from the world of photography and animation.

How did you get into illustration?
I still don't feel like a proper illustrator sometimes. But I knew I wanted to tell stories through drawing so picked an illustration course and have been trying every since, sending work to agents and publishers, picking up work here and there and getting closer to my goals. 

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
The explorers, I would love to write a story for them one day but for now i'll probably just do a series of illustrations for them. Maybe a story will build from there?


What or who are you most inspired by?
The Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson are the reason I decided to give drawing a proper look as a career, at that point I wasn't sure in which capacity. I'm also massively inspired by animated films and storyboards and concept art for films. I think it's where I have grown my love of creating depth and atmosphere from in my illustrations. 

Do you have a favourite illustrator? 
Shaun Tan, The Red Tree is one of my favourite books. David Litchfield and also Jonny Duddle, I love how he creates characters. 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
When i'm not illustrating I love eating lots of yummy food! Sometimes I even make it. I dance as well when I have time, i've salsa danced for about 6 years now. In the summer I love going on walks up the downs where I live and sitting in the sun with a nice beverage. I also love to take naps, especially in the winter, I would hibernate if I could get away with it. 


What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1- Don't give up. It will be hard and it will feel like it is easier for other people but it's probably not so take no heed of their journey. If you feel like you want to give up then take a break instead. Come up for air, for as long as you need, and then start again. Rejections willl come and go but they will make your work better, just do not give up. 

2 – draw what you love. Listen to what agents and art directors say because they know what they are talking about but find the balance between what they want and what you want. If you are drawing things for other people rather than yourself it will show in your work. Sometimes compromises must be made and in that case, find time to draw what you love on the side.  

3 – Always strive to make yourself a better drawer of things. Draw every day even if it is in your sketchbook and no one ever sees it ever. Even if the sketch is tiny and rubbish, draw every day. 

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
Roald Dahl obviously but I loved reading The Famous Five and The Secret Seven books. It really appealed to my dreams of going on adventures when I was smaller. I'm very nostaligic about those sorts of ideas, children running off to have adventures when their parents aren't looking. When I was a little older I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew and also loved Archie comics! 

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
The last book I read was 'How to stop time' by Matt Haig. He's one of my favourite authors, along with Patrick Ness. 

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
My aspirations are to keep drawing every day and to hopefully do well enough to do it full time. I would like to start writing again as well and hopefully work on some exciting illustration projects. 

What’s your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream would be to work on projects with diverse characters and maybe one day have some kids dress up as my characters on world book day. But mostly I would love to be able to work as an illustrator everyday and make a good life for myself out of it. 

Welcome to the family, Amberin!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Meet the Plums: Abi Hall


Abi Hall is a brilliant illustrator who recently joined the Plum Family- get to know a bit about her here!



Where do you live/work?
I live in a small coastal town called Dungarvan in County Waterford in Ireland. I work from home in a small studio overlooking our south-facing garden. My dog Pip spends the day in the studio with me, mostly tucked up in his little furry bed after we’ve been out for a long morning walk. 



What do you like about working there?
I like the lack of commute, and that I am surrounded here by beautiful beaches, forests, and mountains where I can walk for an hour or so every morning with Pip. Also the proximity to my coffee machine and fridge! 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Reading, cooking, walking and hiking, watching films, eating out, and in the summer swimming in the sea. 

How do you work – what are your techniques?
When I’m starting something new I like to mess around with all sorts of materials, including inks, paints, coloured pencils and oil pastels. Once I’ve settled on an overall look or direction for the project I start working digitally, drawing separations on the iPad to take into Photoshop or Illustrator. Once I have the basic drawing finished and coloured I start adding details, either using or Procreate or hand-drawing or painting onto tracing paper and scanning in to layer up digitally. 

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Definitely animals and birds. I like all the different shapes and colours that they are made up of, and that I can really add a lot of personality to them by accentuating certain features.


What were your favourite books when you were younger?
The one’s that really stand out are the Anne of Green Gables series. Also I had a massive hardcover book of illustrated fairytales and folk-tales from around the world which I adored. There were loads of stories in it and they were all illustrated in completely different styles. I can still picture the illustrations now even though I haven’t set eyes on the book since I was a child. 

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
No, for the same reason as above! There are so many illustrators that I love for different reasons that I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite. Some that I look to frequently for inspiration are; Marc Boutavant, Isabelle Arsenault, Mary Blair, the Provensens, Sara Ogilvie and Victoria Semykina.

What or who are you most inspired by?
I couldn’t really say what I’m most inspired by as I’m inspired by so much! Obviously other illustrators and artists, but also; nature, fashion, films, graphic novels, travel, and my two young nieces. 


What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Being paid to draw all day! I love that I am constantly learning and constantly improving, and that I can look back and see how my work has changed and grown. 

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
‘Theft by Finding’ by David Sedaris. I loved it. I’m a big fan of his and find him very funny, the book did not disappoint. 

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. Draw, draw, draw, and draw some more! Draw everything. 
2. Use books, magazines, and films or videos for inspiration more than you use image searches on the internet. 
3. Experiment and stay loose, embrace the happy accident.  


Monday, 21 January 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Jordan Wray!

We are very excited to welcome the fabulously talented Jordan Wray to our punnet of Plums... get to know him in our Illustrator Interview! 


Where do you live/work?
I live in Canada and the UK, what I love about living in two places is the change of scenery and culture. Living in England I was born and raised in Sheffield, Yorkshire where the Peak District is right on my doorstep and Yorkshire puddings are always on my plate!
Whereas in Canada, I live in Vancouver where the mountains and pine forests call me to run with the wolves and be wild. In each country I work from home where I have learned to transition my nightwear into day wear…that’s right, the glory of writing and illustrating in my pyjamas all day has got the better of me!

What do you like about working there?
The thing I love the most about working from home is the fact I can switch myself off from the outside world, close my door and play my music and really get into my little whimsical world of creativity. Also the fact I get to sit at home with coffee and my cat, Iver!



What do you love most about being an illustrator?
The thing I adore the most about being an illustrator is how I get whatever happens in my head out onto paper, it’s almost as if I share my world with everybody to see which is quite amazing actually, especially when I receive a new brief and how I interpret or visualise a manuscript.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
The techniques I use to create my work are both digital and hand drawn. I feel the world is so full of technology these days that I like many others desire to get back to more natural, artisan-like roots and creating hand drawn compositions gives an unpolished, imperfect look which I love!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
My most favourite thing to draw must be animals. I’m a HUGE animal lover and love the different personalities that shine through when watching them. I always try to capture this in my character designing and my main subject for this is my little cat, Iver.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I don’t really have a specific character I have illustrated which is my favourite but in my first authored book, ‘Rosa Draws’ the characters from Rosa’s mind are pretty out there, whacky and really fun to illustrate! I mean, who wouldn’t love to draw a plum-tastic moose?



What or who are you most inspired by?
I’d say nature. I’m a huge, huge fan of nature. To get my creative juices flowing, I love to go on long walks with my music where I collect pinecones and inspiration, shells and ideas. The world around me is definitely something that feeds my creative process.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I don’t necessarily have a favourite illustrator but what I DO find fascinating is setting up workshops in Waterstones or other bookstores for kids to join in with. My latest workshop was a ‘create your own charater’ crafternoon session and I LOVE seeing what the kids come up with and how their minds work.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Away from my desk, as mentioned I do love going on long walks but if I don’t feel like using my legs on a hike I tend to go travelling, surfing, longboarding, taking care of my houseplants, taking photos or simply sitting on my windowsill and daydreaming.



How did you get into illustration?
Illustration has ALWAYS been a huge part of me, since being small I was always found with colour pencils in my hands either drawing small critters or writing little stories.
I took my love for storymaking into adulthood where I studied Illustration at Plymouth College of Art and after receiving a First Class Honours, landed my first ever illustration job, designing greeting cards for Hallmark where I worked for roughly two years before plunging into the world of freelance.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Oh this is a tough one!
Okay so, my first tip would be to stalk. Stalk, stalk and stalk. If you have your heart set on a company you want to for with or for, don’t leave them alone! Ask about potential internships, freelance work or positions coming up in the near future, your determination will get you further than your actual work will.
My second tip is to use your time wisely. In the rare case of sat twiddling your thumbs between briefs, make sure you practice and brush up on skills you haven’t used in a while or take the time to create something new or use a material you have never used before. This is always great to show clients that you’re versatile or that you have a new style which could fit one of their briefs…It could also take you down a new avenue of developing your style and creative identity.
Finally my third top tip is keeping your confidence. The publishing world can be quite competitive at times and you may get many setbacks or rejections of manuscripts and portfolio viewings. Keep your chin up, put that smile back on your face, get back to the drawing board (literally) and persist to kick ass!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
The books that I always remember reading as a child are the ‘Dilly the Dinosaur’ books by Tony Bradman. Back in the 90’s my teacher first started reading these books to us in class and I LOVED them so much that my mum and I HAD to go out and by them so that I could hear the same chapters twice in one day, once at school and again at bedtime.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
The latest book I read was ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. It’s definitely a tear-jerker I must admit but the journey the main character goes on, through the desert, mountains and pine forests of the Pacific North West (from California to the boarder of Canada) is so eye opening and profoundly adventurous, it was difficult to put down! I’m actually finding it hard to find a next read to live up to it.

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
For the rest of 2019, I’d say my aspirations are to eat less doughnuts (way less) and to try and be a better adult!

What’s your ultimate dream?
Oh, this is to definitely one day visit the moon!



Welcome to the family, Jordan!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Ana Duna

We had a chat with our amazing new illustrator Ana Duna, and got to know a little more about her life!


Where do you live/work?
Right now I am living in the wonderful city of Granada in Spain, where I also work from a little studio I have set up in my house.




What do you like about working there?
I love working here because it is a very peaceful place with a lot of green areas and magic places but also it is pretty lively and the people here is very kind, also it is so sunny most days!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love my job, it allows me to read so many stories and imagine in my head each scene and each character however I want… and having the possibility to actually bring to life those images is so magical.

How did you get into illustration?
The third year of my Fine art studies I moved to England and I had a drawing teacher that gave me a lot of freedom to research my own interests so I don’t really know how but I discovered the work of a few illustrators and suddenly I realised that it was an actual career I could pursue so I dedicated that year to study other illustrator’s works, visit bookshops, write and draw a lot.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
Usually I would start with very tiny sketches made in my sketchbook trying to figure out character design and composition of the page and once I have this clear y like to work directly on Photoshop, which is great because it gives you so much freedom to experiment; I finish the sketches digitally, then I do the line work and finally I work on the color.
    When I get stuck and need a bit of inspiration I like to go back to gouaches, which is my favourite traditional medium because it allows you to get so many effects, I particularly like to combine them with pencil colors, the textures that you can create are so interesting and painting traditionally is quite relaxing for me so I like to do it from time to time.




What or who are you most inspired by?
I get inspiration from so many things but I guess most of it comes from the observation of little things in everyday life; I also like to get inspired by the mood and the color palette of good films like Wes Anderson’s and so many other great directors that use color in super clever ways.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Honestly I have so many, I absolutely love Quentin Blake, I mean how can someone be so talented? I also adore Ronald Searle and his illustrations full of personality, and I find SempĂ©’s drawing so charming! I also enjoy many contemporary illustrators like Carson Ellis, Marc Boutavant, Julia Sardá, Benji Davies, Sebastien Mourrain… their work is to die for!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I really love drawing kids and animals, I particularly enjoy drawing facial expressions since I feel it is the best way to express emotion and I love how easy it is for the reader to empathize with the characters and engage (or get involved?) with the different situations that they are living. Humour has also always been an essential part of both my work and life, I love to have fun working and I particularly enjoy creating interesting characters and the worlds they live in.

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
Yes! I really loved Poliche, the main character of the book “El Pampinoplas” published by SM. He went to visit his grandfather to the countryside and although he thought it was going to be utterly boring it ended up being a complete adventure!



What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Catching up with friends is always a good idea, makes you laugh and refills your energy, just what you need after a long day working; also going for walks by my own listening to good music is very nice and another thing I like to do is going to my theater classes, it is so magical getting to be another person for a couple of hours!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Have fun drawing, draw a lot and never give up!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
Roald Dahl stories made me travel to so many places, I enjoyed those books so much.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
It was Just Kids by Patty Smith, a really inspiring book about young artists living in New York, I loved the creative atmosphere about it.

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
I hope to work on some exciting projects! And if possible, travel a bit because it always brings me new ideas.

What’s your ultimate dream?
To spend my life doing the things that I love to do and surrounding myself with good people that I love, simply that :)


Welcome to the family, Ana!