With her folio updated with lots of gorgeous new work, we thought this week would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with Paula Bowles! From her love of cycling and Lindy Hop, to her bustling studio space and extensive list of favourite illustrators, let's get to know a little more about Paula...
Where do you live/work?
I live in Bristol, UK, in a part of the city which is quite green and quiet, with a great view from a great bridge! And I work from a big shared studio in the middle of the city.
What do you like about working there?
My studio is quite lively with lots of other lovely illustrators and designers buzzing about,
so lots of company which is nice! Our studio is part of a huge 5 story building, called Hamilton House, which was derelict before a group of forward thinking people took it on as a project about 9 years ago. They turned it into, what is now, one of Bristol’s most popular community venues, with dance classes, theatre, wellbeing, yoga, music, art studios, and spaces for small businesses. So I can pop upstairs and get a massage, or join a yoga session now and then! There’s even a great bar/cafe/music venue here, so handy for coffee and lunch.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I get to think up characters and their worlds, and ‘play’ with them all day! It’s like a
continuation of childhood imaginative play, except I do it inside my head and on paper, rather than out loud - running around pretending to be a unicorn… I’d get some odd looks otherwise! And I get to draw and write whilst listening to podcasts and the radio with a nice cup of tea and biscuits.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I do all my drawing by hand with actual real pencils. I have a light box to sketch images over and over to achieve the right level of… sketchiness. Then I scan my drawings, and I add all my colour with photoshop magic.
What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I like drawing animals the most, I find them funny and enjoy exaggerating their characteristics.
What or who are you most inspired by?
I spend a lot of time observing the world around me, so inspiration comes from daily life, but also from nature and nature documentaries. I also pour over my favourite books in book shops and go to exhibitions and galleries.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
Oh, so many to choose from!
Oliver Jeffers (Love his characters and story telling!)
Nicholas Frith (Gorgeous colours and characters!)
Kate Hindley (A friend of mine, she’s just fab!)
Lauren Tobia, Sarah Warburton, Louise Cunningham (Also friends of mine, and also
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I love my bike and enjoy going on long bike rides during the summer (I even cycled 450miles from Bristol to Paris!). I also enjoy swing dancing (lindy hop), it’s so playful and
energetic, and it’s good to jump around to music after a day’s drawing at my desk. I love
going to art events and theatre around Bristol, and I love travelling to different parts of the world when I can.
How did you get into illustration?
I studied my illustration degree at Falmouth College of Arts, down in Cornwall. Then after I graduated (about 11 years ago!) I pestered publishers and agents with my portfolio, visiting London and the Bologna Book fair, where I met Mark who then asked me to join this agency* he was setting up, so I said yeah, ok! Then I began to get some work coming in.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. Persevere. It’s not always easy, it can have it’s ups and downs financially (as any freelance work does).
2. Be patient. Don’t expect things to happen immediately!
3. Keep drawing! And keep experimenting and trying things out, you will change and grow throughout your career. Don’t be afraid of this.
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
Shirley Hughes - Dogger
Roald Dahl - The Twits
Dr Seuss - The Sneetches and Other Stories
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
Diana Wynne Jones - Deep Secret
It was great! Diana Wynne jones weaves reality with fantasy with such ease, the story stuck with me during the day so I imagined magic around me in the real world, and not least because the story is partly set in Bristol!
What’s your ultimate dream?
Oooh, I would love to continue illustrating and writing children’s books, travel and see the world with my best buddy, live in a beautiful self-sufficient treehouse in the woods… or if I could talk to animals, or fly like a bird, that would be fantastic too!
We really hope you enjoyed catching up with Paula! Why not head over to the PP site to see all the fab new work on Paula's folio here! Have a lovely weekend!