Our new and wonderful artist Shelly Laslo has shared with us her journey into the wonderful world of illustration! Please have a little read...
Where do you live/work?
I live in sunny Israel, where I work from home at my small, but well-lit desk.
What do you love about working there?
Working from home is both a blessing and a curse- one has an endless amount of freedom! Though I make an effort to not work in my pyjamas, the option is always available. The drawbacks are the home-related distractions like the pile of laundry and cookies in the pantry calling your name all day!
What are your dislikes?
Loud chewing, phoniness, squeaky markers, and dust.
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Besides getting to call my favorite pastime my "job", it's amazing to be able to create something from nothing- a character, a world, a relationship; all can form in front of your eyes with just a few strokes of a pencil. It really is pretty special.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
If I'm working from a brief, then I'll usually start with some sketches in my sketchbook, and tweak things until I'm ready to move onto the final piece, usually digitally on the iPad. If I'm creating some personal work, then anything goes. I might just lay some watercolor on the page and see what forms in front of me. Very often I turn to Pinterest for some visual reference, as I've noticed you pick up interesting nuances when you're not just relying on your imagination.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
For years, it was pretty ladies with really amazing outfits. More recently, I've been loving coming up with child characters. (Kids' outfits are even more wonderful to draw, as it turns out!)
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
The trickiest part for me is to find the patience between having an idea in my mind's eye and finally shaping it into something I'm happy with on the page. It doesn't always "translate" right away, and I've learned it's sometimes necessary to step away from the project as many times as needed in order to view it with fresh eyes. That way, you can see what you need to change or add in order to capture that original idea.
What or who are you inspired by?
Traveling always inspires me, and seeing how the locals live in any particular place. Also, having entered the world of children's books illustration, my own young children are a huge inspiration; the way they might pose, the way they explore the world, and just the hilarious things they do often make their way into my sketchbook.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I dabble in photography, and I like to create small sewing DIY crafts. I have a huge industrial sewing machine from my days in fashion design school, and so I try to put it to good use from time to time!
How did you get into illustration?
I've been drawing since I was little. For most of my childhood I was sure I wanted to become a fashion designer, and eventually went on to complete a Bachelor of Fashion Design at Shenkar College here in Israel. My jobs right out of school were fashion-based, but always had a big emphasis on illustration: I worked for national baby apparel companies, and though I was indeed designing the clothing as well, I was mostly finding myself illustrating the graphics for the tees. I ended up going the freelance route, and for a few years sold design resources like fonts and clip art, which I entirely hand-illustrated. About two years ago, I signed up for an online illustration course called Make Art That Sells, and that opened my eyes to the vast world of opportunities before me. I quickly understood that this- illustration -was the field I truly belonged in.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
First, create more art! Forget perfect, focus of "practice makes progress" instead. If you focus on creating the quantity, the quality is sure to improve with time.
Secondly, force yourself to send that work out into the world. That might mean sharing it on social media, or sending it out to potential clients. Or better yet, do both! I've learned, there's room for everyone in this field, you just need to place many eggs in many, many baskets.
Lastly, love the stage you're at artistically. Yes, you will improve with time, but that's no reason to wait for "later" to pursue your dreams.
What’s your ultimate dream?
In my career, I hope to one day author and illustrate a children's book that would become internationally known and loved. There's something magical about the idea of holding a beloved spot on someone's bookshelf, halfway across the globe.
And in life, my dream is to live a rich and colorful one. And to raise my little ones to be really good and kind people. Yes, that would be my ultimate success.