October was an exciting month for PP and we're delighted to have signed NEW artist Jana Curll! You may have seen her work on the artists pages of our website already or over on Twitter. We thought we'd take 5 minutes to get to know a little more about Jana, from her gorgeous town in Canada, to how she creates her amazing images and what she loves most about being a children's illustrator!
Where do you live/work?
I live and work by the sea on the West Coast of Canada in a small town called Sechelt.
What do you love about working there?
It’s near where I grew up and it has a thriving artist community. I’ve got the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. When the weather is nice, it’s amazing, and when it’s rainy (which is a lot of the time) it’s the perfect atmosphere to work in.
What are your dislikes?
Alarms! (Clock, car alarms, sirens, phones!)
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I like figuring out the balance between story and image, colour and flow and I like finding humour in little moments. It’s like solving and creating a puzzle at the same time!
How do you work – what are your techniques?
Each project requires a slightly different approach depending on how much research is needed. I try to be systematic with making decisions so that important things, like story flow & composition, are working before I get in to the details. I work in traditional mediums like pen and ink, and pencil. I use the computer for finishing work and colour. I have a library of self-made textures and doodles which make their way into my work as well. In my free time I try to work in mediums I am uncomfortable with.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
I seem to be on a kick where I am drawing food characters for clients. Surfing pickles, Beans playing the bass, Happy apples. I don’t know that it’s my favourite thing per se, but I certainly enjoy it!
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
Before I start a job, there is always a moment of sheer panic…but from what I hear, that never goes away. I just try to embrace it now as part of the process. It can be hard to balance client work and work just for fun, but as my work evolves the two are blending, and that is where I find a huge amount of satisfaction!
What or who are you inspired by?
Inspiration comes from people who are constantly pushing their boundaries and artists with multiple styles. I love folk art, textiles, and abstract art. I also find huge inspiration in science and nature. Before I studied design, I studied computer programming. I find math fascinating, and the people who can think with numbers are amazing.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Beatrix Potter was a big influence, as well as Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Judith Kerr and J. otto Seibold.
What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I’ve got two adorable children who love to draw and like to show me how much better they are at art than I am. So that’s always a good time. I also enjoy reading and cooking and getting to the beach.
How did you get into illustration?
I trained in graphic design and illustration from Capilano University’s IDEA program in North Vancouver. I thought that I would be a designer, but wound up doing exhibits and graphics for Science World Vancouver which was amazing. Through working on a huge variety of projects, I discovered I liked doing illustration the most and decided to focus on that. It’s the perfect career in that I will never EVER be able to stop learning or growing.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. While working, ask yourself if you’re enjoying what you are doing. If not, adjust what you are doing until you find the sweet spot. Infusing your work with enjoyment translates more to an audience than perfectionism does.
2. Embrace your quirks, fears and foibles. Use them in your work. This will give you and edge.
3. Look look look. Then STOP looking. Then… work work work.
What’s your ultimate dream?
I would really like to have a studio in a treehouse!
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
My reading time lately has been all kids books with my kids! We’re really enjoying Captain Underpants and the Bad Kitty Books. They’re great! Writing books that both parents and kids can chuckle over really is a talent that I strive to master.
We really hope you've enjoyed catching up with Jana - her folio is live on the PP website here so why not head over and have a look? See you next time!