Today is the day! Tiger Tiger, written and illustrated by the wonderful Jonny Lambert, is available now! In light of this exciting news, we thought we'd catch up with Jonny to find out a little more about where the story came from, how Jonny creates his incredible characters, and his tips for aspiring author/illustrators.
What initially inspired you to begin working on Tiger Tiger? Did the concept for the story come first or the adorable character 'Cub'?
The concept for the story came first, and not by the ‘usual’ route…not that there is one.
My paternal grandfather had been a huge influence in my early artistic life. He taught me how to ‘see’. Reflecting on our relationship, I remember how exciting Friday afternoons were. Teatime out of the way, Granddad and I would sit at the kitchen table to draw and paint. As he drew, I followed. As I drew, he followed. Both discovering something new.
What is your creative process like? How do you begin?
My creative process is initially quite frenetic, as I write and scribble any thoughts and ideas. As ideas come at anytime, anywhere, stimulated by anything, I keep a pencil and small notebook with me, wherever I go. Eventually, these scribbles get transferred into a more legible form.
A long walk, tea and coffee also helps!
Your characters are always so full of personality! How do you go about achieving this?
Once the idea ‘has legs’…well, in my mind anyway…I transform it into images, trying to find the characters- their personality. I tend to talk to myself at this point, in the voice of each character, as this helps to ‘shape’ the body and their attitude.
Do you have a favourite part of the whole process?
Making a mark. Just starting is sometimes the hardest thing, as there are so many expectations, but once the first mark is made…you’re off!
How did you first get into illustration?
With my early influences from my grandfather behind me, I was lucky to study at Art School for 5 years. After a further 8 year period of working in a variety of publishing houses learning my craft, I was given the opportunity to illustrate a book I was designing. It was my first complete book. It was a lift the flap storybook. I felt ready!
What would be your three top tips for author/illustrators just starting out?
1. Be open to all influences and stimuli, whether you think they are relevant or not.
2. Be true to your ‘own’ voice, and remember you are part of a team.
3. Don’t tell people what you can do, show them, and except criticism objectively.
What’s next?! Do you have any specific aspirations for 2017?
I have quite a few projects to work on this year. Some as designer and paper-engineer, and some as author and illustrator…and if I’m lucky, some as all four. With the launch of more picture books, an imprint, and development of new titles for international clients, the 2017 work-front horizon looks busy. I am also privileged to work with CHASE, the children’s hospice, and I will be tutoring for the first time at West Dean college.