In light of today being publication day for the first book Janet has illustrated - The Calamitous Cook (A Race Further with Reading title published by Hachette imprint Franklin Watts) we thought we'd take 5 minutes to catch up with her! Here Janet tells us all about her life as a children's illustrator and how she is so often inspired by her daughter's cheeky and animated ways.
Where do you live/work?
I live in Walthamstow with my husband and little girl Bobbie. I find my cheeky daughter creeps into my illustrations causing chaos and injecting the fun and life. I love to lots of movement in my drawings so she's a great point of reference!
What do you love about working there?
In my spare time I love music and going to see live bands, I love dancing, seeing friends and trying on (often purchasing) fancy retro frocks! Most of my weekends are spent in the park with my girl and her chums. I'm an ex film student too so I really love old movies. I love living in Walthamstow as its very artsy nowadays and there is so much to do for kids. When I'm at home working I like listening to music and getting my inks and pencils out on my desk.
What are your dislikes?
Illustrating at home can be a little solitary and sometimes you need a bit of company but I work in a school too so I enjoy seeing all my friends and kids there a few times a week.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love how I can imagine someone else's idea and if it's the right thing for me the character just bounces onto the page. I love it when something just works and comes together easily. Ten I know it's the right job for me!
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I love using pencils, inks and pens then I scan and use textures and colours in Photoshop. Sometimes I like to used real paints guashe too depending on the feel of the price.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
Cheeky, naughty or spooky kids up to no good!
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
Sometimes making everything work within a scene is tricky for me. Backgrounds are not my specialty but I'm improving I hope!
What or who are you inspired by?
I'm inspired by the story initially, but then the real kids hopping around in my world around me. I know a child who is crying out to be in a story or series of drawings soon, this one's a force of nature in an amusing way!
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen - 'I Want my Hat Back' (Klanssen) is a fave!
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
In my spare time I love music and going to see live bands, I love dancing, seeing friends and trying on (and often purchasing) fancy retro frocks! Most of my weekends are spent in the park with my girl and her chums. I'm an ex film student too so I really love old movies.
How did you get into illustration?
I always loved to draw characters as a child. I drew fabulous ladies in wigs and dresses with long earrings. I remember feeling embarrassed when my mum showed the vicar, as my ladies were also endowed with waistcoats had wonderful cleavage to boot! I'd often draw for other friends in class, but then for many years I simply drew cards and pictures on presents for friends' birthdays. A few disappointing career moves and I decided to give the illustration world a go. It's taken me time to get commissioned work but has been well worth the wait!
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
My top tips are to keep developing, keep asking for advice and showing as many professionals for advice till you make progress!
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
As a kid I loved 'Where the Wild Things Are' and 'The Witches'.. Anything with a sense of danger or darkness really appealed to me. It was in preparation for my teenage goth era!
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
Viv Albertine from The Slits' book was such a page turner and really moving in places! But my favourite of all time has to be 1984.
What’s your ultimate dream?
Life's ambition, now that's a toughie! I'd love some lovely chapter books or picture books under my belt, but I've got everything else in life I need, I'm very lucky to be a proud mother. Maybe a tattoo for my 40th next year and a whopping great party. Usually I'm pretty happy with some wine and a cheese board!
We hope you enjoyed our catch up with Janet! The Calamitous Cook is now available on amazon here so do go and have a look - it's perfect for encouraging independent reading in 6-8 year olds! For more of Janet's work why not visit her PP folio here! See you next time!