Friday, 30 November 2012

Countdown To Christmas!

Not got your advent calendar yet? Check out Scholastic's online animated christmas countdown this year, featuring artwork from their Willow Valley series: illustrated by PP artist Hannah Whitty! You can start your advent countdown here.

Check out more of Hannah's portfolio on the PP website here.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Today's Illustrated Interview - Marina Aizen!

Where do you live/work? What do you love about working/living there? What don't you like?
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a residential neighbourhood with quiet, tree-lined streets. In the evenings you can hear the birds and my husband and I enjoy going for a walk after a day's work. I work at home and my husband and I share the office space. I also have a room for my little library and a messy desk. I use it for handmade projects, when I want to read or just when I am looking for inspiration. What I don’t like is that, being on the outskirts of the city, the commute to downtown might be a long, tedious journey!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
What I enjoy the most and still find amazing is that I can make a living out of what I love - drawing! The process of bringing a character to life is intense and exciting at the same time and makes me very happy. I also enjoy listening to those who see and read the printed result of that search, whether it is an editor, a child or whoever buys a book that I illustrated. Their feedback and feelings about my work are very rewarding!

How do you work?
Ideally, I sketch first freehand with a black pencil, then I scan it and continue on the computer. If time is short, I start directly on the computer. I work with an Intuos 4 digital tablet, (a flat surface plugged into the computer that comes with a digital pencil that lets you draw or paint in Photoshop like a real pencil or brush.) I prepare my own digital brushes and I like the result to be as warm and similar to a handmade image as possible

These are the previous sketches for Mary Had a Little Lamb (Child’s Play – 2012.) 

This is how I work in layers from the b&w artwork to the final image. Sometimes I use more than 500 layers!

What's the hardest part of your job?
To stop working! Sometimes I realise I stay long hours in front of the computer because daylight is fading out… I always deliver on time and, if possible, before deadlines, which is why I am so attached to my desk every day!

What/who inspires you?
Oh! A lot of things and talented artists! Music; nature; pictures, design and culture from 1890’s and also from 1920’s to 1950’s; 1960’s French advertising; engraving, (which is my background); reading books and looking for information about illustrators and artists I love and admire such as: Francisco de Goya, William Hogarth, J. J. Grandville, José Guadalupe Posada, Maurice Sendak, Olle Eksell, Herve Morvan, David Weidman, Kiki Smith, Harriet Russell, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen, Jannie Ho, Hellen Borten, Elena Odriozola, Marta Antelo, Joanna Concejo, Anne Herbauts, Beatrice Allemagna, Silja Goetz, Mina Perhonen, Poly Bernatene, Gustavo Aimar, Isol and María Wernike.

What do you like to do when you're not illustrating?
Drawing, listening to music, reading, making illustrated embroidery, cooking, meeting with my friends and colleagues at home, (or just anywhere), going to exhibitions, travelling. 

How did you get into illustration?
Ever since I was very young, I have always enjoyed drawing and reading. My grandfather Leon Untroib was a master in his field: He was a sign painter and cart ornamentor and he had great influence on me, mostly the way he used to paint with layers and layers of colour. I became aware of this just a few years ago. After graduating with a BFA in printmaking, I went back to my first love: the relationship between letters, (specially stories), and images. I knew I wanted to work in something related to that, so I took several editorial and children illustration workshops and became the most happy person, because I found that thing that makes me smile and I have always carried within me.

Any tips for aspiring illustrators?
Yes! Be very patient. Working as a freelance illustrator may take some time before receiving paid work. Work on your own style and do not copy other people's work. Prepare your portfolio very thoughtfully. Be fully informed about your rights and about what becoming a professional illustrator entails. Stay in touch with other illustrators and go to as many meetings, fairs and exhibitions as you can. Be happy, put your heart in everything you do and work hard every day. And good luck with your career! 

What's your ultimate dream?
Having a lot of books printed by the best publishing houses; having my work featured in the catalogues of Bologna and Bratislava; doing editorial illustration; having my personal projects published soon, and something very, very important: Never stop dreaming, so that I can continue drawing everyday.

You can see more of Marina's wonderful illustrations in her PP portfolio, here.

Fabulous New Artworks From Debbie Tarbett!

Check out Debbie Tarbett's most recent work! Here at PP we think they're gorgeous!

See more of Debbie's folio here.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Valeria Valenza's Children's Wall Stickers

When Valeria sent us a link to the children's wall stickers she is selling, I got a little over excited! They're absolutely gorgeous! These lovely, bright circus characters would brighten up any child's bedroom! Check them out here. You can see more of Valeria's gorgeous artwork in her portfolio on Plum Pudding's website here and visit her own blog here.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Julia Grigorieva

Plum Pudding are delighted to announce the arrival of new illustrator Julia Grigorieva! Julia's wonderfully rich and vibrant illustrations are suitable for so many different markets that we can't wait to see what you all think of them! You can view Julia's beautiful portfolio here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

V&A Illustration Awards 2013

The V&A Illustration Awards celebrate the best illustration published over the last year. Original artwork from the best illustrated book, book cover, editorial illustration and student illustrator of the 
year are recognised. 

There are three published categories: Book Cover, Book Illustration and Editorial. There is also one student category.

The winner in each category receives £2,000 and a trophy and the judges select an overall winner of the V&A Illustration Awards who will receive an additional £2,000. The Student Illustrator of the Year receives £2,000 and a trophy. The runner up receives £1,000.

Entries are now being accepted for this year's competition and as always entry into the awards is free, so we really recommend giving it a shot!

More information can be found here and also check out the fab 2012 award winners here. Good luck everyone!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Today's Illustrated Interview - Kate Pankhurst

Where do you live/work?
I live in a really old weavers cottage in Leeds, 213 years old according to the date stone above the front door!

I work from home and have a studio upstairs that I finally got round to decorating this month, (after two years of staring at some not very nice stripy blue wallpaper that the people we bought the house off put up.) I spotted this wallpaper and couldn’t resist the lovely black and white tree illustrations. My puppy, Olive, seems to quite like the new set up too. 

What do you love about working/living there?
My house is really close by to the Leeds Liverpool canal, even though you are still in the city it feels like you could be in the middle of the countryside. Since we got Olive in the summer I’ve been walking down there most days, it’s looking really autumnal and lovely at the moment. 

What don't you like?
I’m from North Liverpool and spent lots of time at the coast growing up. Leeds is about as far from the sea in any direction as you can get in the UK! I miss the sea-side, there are plenty of massive hills to make up for it here though. Oh and it’s FREEZING in winter, at least ten degrees cooler than the rest of the country I’m sure (although on a positive note, when it snows Leeds usually gets a covering of white stuff).

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Inventing funny characters and situations to put them in – for me the best illustrations have lots of funny details in them to tell you something about the character or the place they are from. I really love it when you can get lost in your work, when it feels like you are creating something you’ve never done before.

How do you work?
I have a large collection of pencils of different shapes, sizes, textures and weights that I use to make my line drawings. Drawing with a pencil line means I don’t have to worry about making the line work perfect on my first go, it can be a bit wobbly and sketchy. I find this keeps the finished work much looser and energetic than drawing in ink (you can’t rub that out!) 

When I start an illustration I tend to map out a really faint sketch of the character first, then work over the top doing a firmer drawing, I try to make sure the character looks like they are moving, or are about to move. That really makes an illustration feel energetic.

I use the computer to put together my colour work using lots of scanned textures and patterns to build up the final image. I like to keep things hands on and for the finished result to look painterly and textured – like these characters I’ve been working on recently – so I’ll paint up things like the hair and the cheeks and scan them in. (My scanner and Wacom pad are covered in graphite and blobs if coloured inks.)

I love the computer as it’s so easy to change and invent things as you go along, but I don’t want my finished work to look like it’s been done on there if that makes sense?! For painting up the different textures and colours in my work I like to use Dr Martins inks, they are so bright and ping off the page at you.

I think having lots of reference and a bank of ideas really helps with illustrating and writing stories, I’ve been sketching interesting things people say and do in a little notebook. Hopefully they can be used in a story in the future. This is what Olive has been up to this week. 

What's the hardest part of your job?
Although I love working at home (and it has lots of benefits eg: working in your PJs, tea and coffee breaks at my leisure etc) I do like interacting with other people, and go slightly bonkers if I don’t. Mark and Hannah have been brilliant for bouncing ideas off so that helps with lone working. I find it’s really useful to try and keep in contact with other illustrators and authors, and to share ideas as much as I can, otherwise it can feel like you are working in a bit of a bubble.

What/who inspires you?
Looking at beautifully illustrated children’s books, if I get a pang of jealousy at how wonderful the work is I know it must be good! I really like David Robert’s work and Alex T Smith, their characters are just amazing. I’ve been a huge Lauren Child fan since university too, her stories are so well observed and funny.

What do you like to do when you're not illustrating?
When I haven’t got a pencil in my hand I like to get out for a run, I did the London Marathon earlier this year and in a moment of madness have entered the Paris Marathon next April. I thought a weekend away would make up for the long run! I also like knitting, I’m very slow though, it took me six months to knit a hat!

How did you get into illustration?
I had always loved drawing and making things so ended up going to uni to study illustration, not really realising you could actually do it for a living. Whilst at university I managed to start of my career illustrating children’s books after I came second in the Macmillan Prize.

Any tips for aspiring illustrators?
Draw as much as you can, notice the funny things around you that could end up being brilliant stories and get involved with supportive groups like the SCBWI ( There’s also lots of competitions you can enter to get your work noticed.

What's your ultimate dream?
It was to write and illustrate my own children’s book, that’s what I am currently working on and what I’d love to do lots more of! If I can keep working making children’s books for the rest of my career I’ll be suitably chuffed.

Check out Kate's gorgeous portfolio of work here.

Friday, 2 November 2012

South Kensington Kids Festival 2012

Check out this year's South Ken Kids Festival, from the 21st-25th November! This year there will be some fantastic guest illustrators, such as Quentin Blake, Emma Chichester Clarke and Axel Scheffler among others! Exciting stuff! Take a look at the website here.