Where do you live/work? What do you love about working there?
I live in South West London and work from home. We have a lovely house with a big kitchen which goes straight out into the garden. I find that I work in a variety of spots around the house. I have an art room and also a mac office space in a different room but sometimes I like to work in other places in the house and sometimes even late at night in front of the TV. I have found it best to separate where I have my mac from where I do my traditional art … not sure why but the two things on the same desk don’t mix. Either you spill indian ink on your keyboard or you get distracted by a ‘ping’ from social media. There is also a lovely peace and quiet in my art room which is free from any electronic noise. I like to open the window and listen to people chatting as they walk along the road.
What are your dislikes?
My issues with working from home is the lack of company. I am someone who thrives on feedback and love a good old fashioned ‘brain storm’ so sometimes that is lacking when you only have a pot plant for company (sniff sniff). But I am lucky enough to have some wonderful friends nearby and of course my children who always come up with the BEST ideas ever!
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love those moments when time stands still and when you are creating something magical.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I work with watercolours and inks mainly but I tend to paint my characters as separate blocks of colour and then bring them together in photoshop so I have the flexibility of changing things if I want to. I also like working directly on the ipad for my sketches. It’s very free and it means you can reverse a mistake without taking everything away.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
I like drawing things from life so probably something like a pair of old shoes would keep me happy.
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
Yes. getting down on the paper what you see in your head without a reference is a bit of a tricky one. But I’m getting better at it … Also pacing out a story into a 12 spread book is sometimes like a puzzle. But it always seems to keep me interested in solving the puzzle!
What or who are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by great storytellers and illustrators who can give life to a story. There are so many amazing illustrators out there but the ones I really love are: Sara Ogilvie, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Joe Berger, Yasmeen Ismail and Marc Martin. I also have to mention Christyan Fox, Zehra Hicks and Jane Porter who I have been taught by and who have had a really big impact on how I have developed my style.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
There are far too many amazing illustrators out there to choose just one. But probably Sara Ogilvie. Her character expressions are so believable and the freedom which she draws is beautiful.
What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I play the piano, love a bit of gardening and am a die hard fan of Strictly Come Dancing.
How did you get into illustration?
I studied illustration and Graphic Design at Bath Spa School of Art and Design. Went on to be a Graphic Designer and then came back to Illustration later.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. Keep drawing and don’t be precious about getting it right first time.
2. Write and draw your ideas and keep them - Don’t judge your work too quickly.
3. Try and have confidence in yourself. It’s a hard one because there are so many very talented people out there but don’t let that put you off creating your art.
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
‘Big Magic’ By Elizabeth Gilbert. This book is amazing (and also slightly ‘out there’ in terms of it’s ideas). But all the same a must read for anyone creative. It will make you realise how creativity is quite literally magic and creating something (anything!) is what makes the world go around in a slightly more joyous way.
What’s your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream for sometime has been to get one of my Children’s books published. I have really grafted away for a long time on my stories and so to have one of my books published and in a child’s grubby little hands would quite literally set my world on fire ;-)
We hope you enjoyed meeting the newest addition to the PP family, Jo, and learning more about her life as a children's illustrator! You can see more of her work on her PP portfolio here.