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.
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!