Wednesday, 19 July 2017

5 Minutes with... Shahar Kober

Today we're very excited to be catching up with PP artist Shahar Kober, from his home in Israel! We talk all things illustration, from Shahar's journey into children's illustration, to how he creates his stunning images and his advice for budding illustrators. Let's get to know a little more about Shahar...

Where do you live/work?

I live and work in the northern part of Israel, in a town called Kiryat-Tivon. The city of Haifa is a short drive to the west and Nazareth is a short drive to the east. I have a small home studio which I share with my cat and loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded. Other parts of the house are also shared with my wife, two sons (8 and 6) and Paula the dog. We have a small garden with two lemon trees, two plum trees, one magnificent peach tree, and three veteran oak trees.

What do you like about working there?

I’ve been working from my home studio for 12 years now. I like the fact I can work whenever I want, take frequent coffee breaks, and go out to the garden with my laptop and work there. It isn’t always perfect though! The guilt of watching the dishes pile up in the sink every visit to the kitchen (I mentioned the many coffee breaks), can sometimes be too much to bear. 

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I like the challenges new assignments bring. Each project is different from the other and work is never repetitive. I also like to challenge myself every project and try something I never tried before – new perspectives, new angles, new techniques, etc. I enjoy having my own quiet space and having the ability to control my work hours.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I’m sorry to say it’s a boring short answer – all my work is digital and is created using Photoshop. In the past, I started with real pencil sketches on paper, but in recent years, as technology advances and my digital drawing abilities improve, even my initial sketches are digital. I like to think I’ve saved some rainforests by not using paper for several years now. I do use my sketchbook once in a while though, mainly for very rough sketches of ideas.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

I like drawing animals, they are fun to draw, much more than people. The only animals I’m having trouble drawing are horses. I love drawing elderly people, they have so much character. And insects, for the same reason. I also love drawing architecture and strangely enough, I really enjoy drawing sofas and couches. 

What or who are you most inspired by?

I’m inspired by nature, by people I meet and mainly by spying on my colleagues online. There are so many excellent illustrators out there, I can learn something from each and every one of them. In recent years, I’ve been teaching illustration once a week, and I find myself inspired by my students as well. Sometimes fresh and “half cooked” illustrators do the most amazing work.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

There are so many! First and foremost – Wolf Erlbruch and David Hughes. Some local illustrators from my country – Ofra Amit, David Polonsky, and Orit Bergman. Honoré Daumier is my all-time favourite classic illustrator. 

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

Even though I’m not very tall (an understatement), I play basketball once a week with some friends. I’m a mediocre player, but I enjoy playing very much. 

I also enjoy hiking. In recent years, I haven't had enough time to go on long hikes, but my town borders with a lovely nature reserve which I often visit when I walk the dog or play with my children. We try to go camping at least once or twice a year.

I also enjoy gardening and taking macro photos of insects. 

How did you get into illustration?

I always drew and painted as a boy, my school notebooks were mainly one big sketch mess and had very few words in them. As I’ve studied for my B.Des degree in graphic design, it was very clear from the start that I would specialize in illustration. The minute I graduated (in 2005), I started working on picture book illustration. Since then I’ve illustrated tens of books, and also contributed art to magazines and newspapers. In recent years, I’ve also started working on art for animation, which is very fun and very challenging at the same time. 

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Don’t give up. There are so many talented illustrators around the world, but I think talent, though obviously very important, is not the main reason for success. It’s perseverance. Work hard and don’t let failure stop you. 

2. Draw every day, as much as you can.

3. Try drawing the things you find most difficult to draw, over and over again. After a while you will see you’re getting better at it.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

Little Golden Books. I used to have many of those, but my two favourite ones were The Little Red Caboose and The Little Golden Book of Uncle Wiggily. Other favourites were Mercer Mayer’s There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, and some Alain Grée books, I vividly remember their art but can’t remember what the books were.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

I’m embarrassed to say I mainly read children books. I try finding old classics for my kids and I enjoy reading these for them. Astrid Lindgren books are our current thing. I’ve read so many of her books recently, and I think 'Mio, My Son' is her best book by far. I recently had the honor to illustrate a cover for a Hebrew translation of Norton Juster’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth. Even though it’s a children’s adventure novel, I would recommend it for adults as well.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

First of all, I would like to finish an animated film I’ve been working on for the past two years along with an amazing team of talents. It’s a 15 minute short for adults, which I hope would be amazing. 

What’s your ultimate dream?

I would have to say trekking the Himalayas. I’ve already trekked the Annapurna Circuit mountain ridge in Nepal some 15 years ago, but I feel the Everest Base Camp awaits me and my sketch book. I just need to find time. And money. And someone to take of the kids while I’m away. And to really work on my stamina. No big deal. 

We really hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Shahar! You can see more of his stunning work here...

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Only Lonely Panda is in the wild!

Today marks the publication date of Jonny Lambert's The Only Lonely Panda, published by Little Tiger Press! This uplifting story celebrates individuality and friendship as it follows lonely Panda on his hunt to find a friend. BookBairn has written a lovely review of the title, which you can read here!

Foreign co-editions of the title in French, Dutch, Romanian and Portuguese.

We also received a lovely mail this week from Sarah Balint, a librarian in Ontario, Canada! Over the past few weeks, Sarah has been running an incredible program called 'The Art of Illustration', in which 8-13 year old children focused on the art of a different children's illustrator each week. Jonny was one of the artists studied! The children were shown copies of his books from the library's collection and further images from Google, to inspire them to create an art piece of their own, emulating Jonny's style. Sarah was kind enough to get in touch and send over some of the wonderful pieces that the children created, so we thought we'd share them with you all, we think they're wonderful! 

Thank you so much to Sarah for sharing, and to all the brilliant, budding young artists for your work!

You can see more of Jonny's gorgeous work in his PP portfolio here!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Ali Brown at Bradford Lit Fest!

Last Saturday, Ali Brown spent the morning at Bradford Literature Festival, running a 'Mighty-Mo'  inspired workshop! The children’s section of the City Library was packed out, and Ali had loads of very enthusiastic artists when it came to drawing their “Big Zoo”. Some weird and wonderful creatures were created, so we thought we'd share some of them with you below!

Friday, 30 June 2017

5 Minutes with... Angela Navarra

Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP (and Plum Licensing!) artists Angela Navarra, from her home in New Jersey! We discuss her top three tips for aspiring illustrators, as well as sources of inspiration and her journey into illustration, so let's get to know a little more about Angela...

Where do you live/work?

I live and work in Weehawken, New Jersey. It’s a suburb of New York City. There are a lot of awesome restaurants, shops, and parks I can visit by foot. I can also easily hop on a bus and get to midtown Manhattan in 10 minutes (without traffic of course!).

What do you like about working there?

I enjoy having a home studio since I have access to tons of coffee and snacks and showering is optional :D I’ve created a world for myself that inspires and motivates me via the books and art that surround me. Also, my cats, Olly and Lola, along with my son, Maddox, all provide a fun soundtrack to my day!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

It makes me really happy to create pieces based how I perceive them. I enjoy exaggerating certain things I find beautiful and fascinating about my subject matter. Maybe that seemingly black color is more of a deep purple, that letter “R” I illustrate could fill a whole page, or maybe creating an octopus that has 12 arms instead of 8 because who wouldn’t want an extra 4 arms?!

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I start off researching - Looking through old books and magazines. Even though I’ve had my books for years, I still see something new every time! Every project offers an opportunity to look through a different lens. Next, I sketch away on loose paper to work out my composition and to explore. Whatever sketch is chosen by the client, I then scan and turn it into vector art. Finally, I create textures with acrylic paint, pastel, and fabric scraps to overlay onto my illustration.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why? 

I love drawing anything involving sea life. The ocean is so fascinating to me and it’s fun to imagine what else can be in this world that covers 70% of our planet. It dictates so much in our lives and yet 95% of this world has been unseen by human eyes. It’s so mystical! PLUS, my family and I would spend a lot of our summers on the beach when I was a kid. It was a time that my family was the happiest.

What or who are you most inspired by? 

I love the old greats like Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Massin, and Paul Rand. They were a part of a time that illustration and design were one and I love seeing such amazing composition and illustration created by one artist. Also, lettering ladies such as Jessica Hische and Louise Fili make my heart pitter-patter. 

I also love old found objects. Every country I visit, I drag back little knick-knacks to litter my home with. It helps me remember how inspired I was when I visit a new country and experience their culture. OH and mid-century modern hotels! The details and signage that adorn these places - I just can’t get enough of it all!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 

I’m always up for an adventure but my faves are travelling, singing in cars, falling asleep when the tv is on, making vegan snacks and beauty products, visiting haunted houses, trying exotic foods, yoga, collecting knick-knacks, and spending time at home with my awesome husband, Dominic, our magical son, Maddox, and our two frisky cats, Olly and Lola.

 How did you get into illustration? 

I actually have a BFA in design but I always found myself illustrating typography and imagery to fulfill the compositions I envisioned. I remember a few of my interviews early on in my career when art directors would ask me the same question: “Are you an illustrator or a designer?” At first I would say designer since I have a degree in design but then after giving it some thought I would respond, “Why do I have to be one or the other? I’m both!” Then after replying that way so many times, I would be asked to illustrate things on the projects I was designing for. That turned into commissions solely for illustration work!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Share your work no matter what stage! This is something I have to tell myself constantly since I always want things to be “perfect.” We have so many avenues to share, and it’s great to see what people react to.

2. Allow yourself time to play! I’ve created a lot of ugly things and those ugly things helped me create the things I am the most proud of.

3. Get out there and look at anything, everything, and talk to anyone! I do this daily and you’d be surprised at what inspires my work. There is beauty everywhere and in everyone if you’re open to it, and I always try to be.

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

I was a sucker for bright and flashy book covers (probably since I am a 1980s baby!). Wow, not so surprised I am a designer/illustrator, right? Books with unicorns, mermaids, and even licensed properties, such as “Jem and the Holograms” -  I was all over them like a wet t-shirt. However, when I got over the pure eye candy, I loved anything with a mystery involved such as “Road to Nowhere” by Christopher Pike. I read many of his books growing up and I also loved the classics like “Frankenstein”, “Of Mice and Men”, and “Gulliver’s Travels”.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

Honestly, in the past 15 months all I have read are books about babies and pregnancy! Oh, and “Kick Litter”! A book on toilet training your cat! So, technically, the last book I finished reading is “The Happy Sleeper.” This book helped me sleep train my now 5.5 month old. Human sleep is a fascinating subject and it really went into depth on infant sleep cycles, when babies start sleeping through the night, and techniques on how to sleep train. It has been a god send! We are all sleeping a bit more thanks to Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright!

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year? 

To balance my work and family life. My career and family are super important to me and I hope to juggle things better and better! To also dedicate more time to my stationery company, Doo Daa Studio.

What’s your ultimate dream? 

To sell everything I own and move into a tiny house or boat and live everywhere and anywhere. To explore and create in a new setting weekly and allow myself to be inspired by my surroundings.

We really hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Angela! You can see more of her work on her PP folio page here and can view her licensing work on her Plum Licensing page here!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're Looking for a Trainee Agent!

Plum Pudding Illustration Agency has a vacancy for a bright and dynamic Trainee Agent. As well as being a diligent administrator, potential candidates should be keen to work closely with the illustrators represented by the agency and the clients we work with in securing a smooth and steady work flow.

Job Role:
- Expected to manage projects and artist deadlines
- Liase between publishers and illustrators and author/illustrators
- Meet with editors and designers to showcase and pitch artists works - travel required to London, other UK cities and occasionally abroad
- Work with artists to develop their work

Skills required:
- Proficient with Macs/email software/Microsoft office
- Organised/excellent time management
- Good communication skills
- Photoshop and InDesign skills preferable but not essential 
- Background or interest in children’s illustration and publishing is preferable but not essential

Salary: competitive

If you're interested in joining us here at PP, please email your CV and cover letter to: 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Erica Jane Waters' Miss Bunsen to be published by Albert Whitman!

We're over the moon to be able to share the news that Albert Whitman has bought Miss Bunsen's School for Brilliant Girls, by PP author/illustrator Erica Jane Waters! Congratulations Erica!! The series follows three friends who attend a unique school full of extraordinary young female inventors, engineers and scientists. This bright and fun chapter book series promises to deliver inspiration for girls everywhere, and is full of bonkers inventions, tough competitions with rival schools, and one very smelly cat! Here are a few of Erica's characters...

We'll be sure to let you know when Miss Bunsen will be published!! 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Alison Brown to Illustrate Bedtime Story Competition Winner!

We're delighted to be able to announce that Alison Brown will be illustrating the winning entry of  this year's Bedtime Story Competition, run by The Book People! Children aged 5-11 can enter the competition, the theme of which is friendship, and the winner will have their book published by Little Tiger Press and illustrated by Ali! Judges will include celebrity parents as well as publishing experts. You can sign up for an email notification from The Book People to stay in the loop with the competition here - happy writing!! 

Ali will also be running a workshop at this year's Bradford Literature Festival! Tickets are available here for a morning of reading Mighty Mo and drawing all the animals from the Golden Dodo Zoo!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Valeria Valenza Wins The Italian Andersen Award!

We're so excited to congratulate PP artist Valeria Valenza on winning the Italian Andersen Award, for her illustration of 'I Tre Porcellini D'India' (Three Little Guinea Pigs)! The prize is awarded for a title that delivers quality stories with perfectly matched illustrations to read together, while at the same time being suitable for early readers to read alone. Here are some of Valeria's gorgeous illustrations from the book:

You can see more of Valeria's work on her PP folio page here!