Presenting one of our wonderful new illustrators Sharon Davey! Below she has been kind enough to answer a few questions for us. From her likes and dislikes to her tip top tips for aspiring illustrators!
Where do you live/work?
I live and work in sunny Surrey but I’m originally from Stockport, Greater Manchester and we defiantly harbor a northern spirit in the house. Everyone who enters is fed and no one ever wears a coat.
What do you love about working there?
I used to work from the kitchen table and need to tidy up everyday at 3pm so having my own space is phenomenal. I like noise when I work so I love being in the middle of our family space. If I’m home alone working I have to have music on or I end up talking to our cat, Eliza Doodle Davey.
What are your dislikes?
I really don’t like it when toddlers lick a runny nose, yuk! But apart from that I pretty much like everything about my life. I’d really like to find a recipe for flapjacks where I don’t just burn a pan of oats.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I am so in love with my job - it’s the best. It’s my dream job and it allows me to be 100% myself. I love the ideas stage; choosing, creating, and goofing around with more absurd ideas. Listening to writers, art directors and now agents about their thoughts of what I’ve drawn is great fun. They always see something I’ve missed and it’s the feedback I require to be part of the illustration world rather than just drawing for myself.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I’ve developed my work over the past year to streamline the process. So, it goes a little something like this, I usually sketch a page or two of character drawings, sometimes using reference but mainly right out of my head. Generally I forget to use my sketchbook and prefer printer paper so I can scan the images, but I try to go back and tape them into my sketchbook in the right order. Then I draw and scan, draw and scan for what seems like days; characters, locations, textures, individual plants, random shapes. Then I rearrange in Photoshop, either recolouring lines and going to final artwork or if my line widths are too various I print off this mash of drawings, light box and redraw everything at a similar line width and start again. I colour digitally and like to keep my original line work as lively and interesting as possible.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
Grumpy looking animals. I like to draw things with attitude problems and distrusting looks- they make me laugh. I’m much more at ease drawing humor and will sit like a fool with a big smile on my face laughing at my own jokes.
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
That cold clutch of your heart you feel when a deadline is approaching and talking yourself round from freezing and putting it off into a “RIGHT! Let’s do this attitude.” Also letting go of a really nice layout or character that you have fallen in love with because no one else likes it. That’s pretty tricky.
What or who are you inspired by?
I buy picture books very often, my shelves would say too often. I love Quentin Blake and would absolutely have a fan girl moment if I was ever in the same room. I adore Isabelle Arsenault, Kenard Pak, Chris Chatterton, Fred Blunt, Chris Riddell, Leigh Hodgkinson and did you see the new book from Richard Jones, The Snow Lion? Oh my! I cried in the bookshop.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
If I’m not at my desk or in a bookshop I like to visit cake shops with my family or friends. I feel like I’m working on a study of all the almond croissants in the area. Although I’ll have to start all over again with mince pies soon, shucks! I like art galleries, the theatre, singing show tunes on long car rides and embarrassing my children by going over the top at least three times a day.
How did you get into illustration?
When asked as a child about possible future professions I always said I wanted to be a draw-er or a crisp taster. At age 9 I was convinced Hollywood would come knocking for me to draw on the next Disney movie and by age 12, after waiting by the phone for three years, I decided theatre was a safer bet. I trained as a theatre set and costume designer at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and spent 15 years making theatre, props, masks, puppets, anything and everything. I was pretty late in the game when I realized I loved theatre so much because I was storytelling and I should be spending my time doing that instead of sewing feathers on to ugly duckling costumes. I started drawing again with the idea to entertain my family and really got into it. I exhibited some of my work and got a lot of great feedback. I moved more into children’s illustration and met SCBWI people at a short course on book illustration. After that I knew I was home. At such a young age I knew what I wanted to be, I should have listened to her. I could have been a crisp taster by now.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Put in the hard work and get better at drawing hands.
Be on the look out to learn more, short course, lectures, and new people.
Stick to deadlines and be business-like about business.
What’s your ultimate dream?
1.To get better at drawing hands.
2. To be asked to be on Strictly Come Dancing ,but have to turn it down because I have too much work on.