Tuesday, 21 August 2018

A Chat with New Illustrator Jessica Martinello!

Get to know the lovely Jessica Martinello, Plum Pudding's newest illustrator!

Where do you live/work?
I live in Rossano Veneto, a small town in the countryside near Bassano del Grappa, with my cat Matita, my dog Speck and my family; I’m working in my own studio which is also my bedroom!

Jessica's studio

What do you like about working there?
I love working at home because I can decide how and when I feel like working. For creating you have to be inspired, which is something that doesn't happen every day or at any moment. I love to be a free person, even though it is not always so simple! I really appreciate the company of my pets and the view from my window!

The views from Jessica's window

How did you get into illustration?
I always loved drawing and art, but I didn't know that it could be a profession until I was 20. After the university in Venice, where I studied Art, I was so lucky to discover an Academy of Digital Arts in Florence, where I got in touch with illustration and animation as profession for the first time. In that moment I found my way, and there I met my second family with my teachers and friends.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I think that what I love most about being an illustrator is that my work is also my passion. To write stories and to paint makes me able to travel far away, without taking a step outside my studio (and wearing my pyjamas, if I want!)

How do you work – what are your techniques?
Usually I mix different techniques. The first step is the sketch, then I paint with watercolors. I complete my illustration digitally with my tablet, using Photoshop.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
I have a lot of favourite illustrators! But at the top of my list are Chuck Groenink, Isabelle Arsenault, Jon Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, Benji Davies, Jenni Desmond, Conrad Roset and Marta Alt├ęs.

What or who are you most inspired by?
I'm inspired by what happens all around me every day, and by my adventures when I was a little girl! I'm inspired by many other illustrators and artists, by my cat and by books that I read. But when I'm not inspired at all, there is just one film that can help me: Big Fish (Tim Burton). It is a box full of imagination!

Meet Speck and Matita!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
Read a lot and taking long walks into the nature. And I travel every time I have the possibility to do that!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I love drawing animals! All kind of animals, but probably the animasl I love to draw the most are bears, cats and dogs! I love to simplify shapes and animals are really funny and expressive!

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I don't know if he is my favourite, but there is one that I love and he is a kind of symbol for me: a little white bunny with a red backpack that arrived on the top of the moon!
And, I also love the little tiger that make me so lucky this year!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Well, I'm still an aspiring illustrator :) but…
First NEVER GIVE UP! There are days that you don't believe in yourself and in your abilities, I know, but every illustrator or artist has these bad days! Go on, tomorrow will be better!
The second tip is to be curious and look around you! Nature and every day life inspire you and help you with shapes, composition and colour palettes.
And the last one is to practice and practice with passion!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I used to love Alice in Wonderland for so many years!! I have a lot of differents editions of it. But when I was younger my favourite books probably were Harry Potter and Six Little Friends (a story by Peter Holeinone)- an illustrated edition. But I was also a fan of the horror series Goosebumps :)

What was the last book you read? What did you think?
I love reading! The last one was The Bronze Horseman  by Paulina Simons. It's a love story set in 1941, Leningrado. Absorbing, heart breaking and well-written. (I'm romantic!)! I recommend it!

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
Next autumn 2 of my books will be published! One as illustrator, the other one as author!
So, my aspirations for the rest of 2018 are to have new projects to work on that could be published next year! I keep my fingers crossed!

What’s your ultimate dream?
I know that my ultimate dream is to live in front of the ocean, with someone I love.
During the day I would like to write my stories and illustrate them for publishers all over the world, and watch at the stars during the night.

Welcome to the Plum family, Jessica!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Erin Balzer – a double winner at the SCBWI Summer Conference!

Our lovely illustrator Erin Balzer attended the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend, where she participated in the Summer Conference Juried Portfolio Showcase and won two awards! She received the Honor award and was one of six artists chosen for the Mentorship Program award.

(the Honour Award winners)

The Portfolio Showcase is an annual event at the SCBWI, where each portfolio submitted is viewed by a panel of judges and mentors (as well as faculty and conferees attending the conference) who then select a Grand Prize winner and two Honor Awards winners. Honor Award winners are given the opportunity to have a portfolio and style critique over the phone with an Art Director.

(the Mentorship Program Award winners)

Winners of the Mentorship Program award are chosen by members of the SCBWI board, who each choose one illustrator to become a Mentee. Winners get the chance to meet with their Mentor for a one-on-one 15-minute session where they can discuss the their work and get critiques, suggestions, and feedback. Mentors and Mentees also meet as a group to share tips and create career development strategies. This is a fantastic opportunity for illustrators to have their excellent work recognized and receive advice on how to advance and improve their careers.

Erin was delighted with her awards, saying ‘I had the pleasure of connecting with art directors at penguin, Simon & Schuster and so many others. I was completely shocked and I am still in a daze from it all.‘

Congratulations, Erin, from some very proud Plums at Plum Pudding!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Nabbing Rabbits and The Times - How to Nab a Rabbit is Children's Book of the Week!

"Monika Filipina’s illustrations have just the right amount of energy" - Alex O'Connell, the Times

Many congratulations to Claire Freedman and our new Plum Pudding illustrator Monika Filipina, whose brilliant book How to Nab a Rabbit has been chosen as the Times newspaper's Children's Book of the Week!

How to Nab a Rabbit is a hilarious guide written by the Big Bad Wolf himself on how to nab a rabbit, with tips and tricks on bears, traps, and springs with too much hop!  

For hungry wolves, this book is a winner, 

It shows you how to catch your dinner. 

Love bunny pie and rabbit stew?

They’ll soon become your dream come true.

Monika Filipina is one of the newest Plums to join the Plum Pudding family, and her vibrant and expressive illustrations really bring stories to life. We're very excited to be working with her and to see what she comes up with next! 

You can read the fantastic review of How to Nab a Rabbit on the Times website here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-how-to-nab-a-rabbit-by-claire-freedman-and-monika-filipina-nw252kxn5