Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Meet the Plums: Emily Hamilton

We caught up with our lovely illustrator Emily Hamilton: learn more about her in our interview here!

Where do you live/work?
I live in North Devon, surrounded by little green hills and a big rolling ocean. I’ve got a little studio in my house which is filled with pens, pencils, paints, paper and occasionally two small humans who want to see what I’m up to.

What do you like about working there?
I love North Devon (apart from the summer traffic on the tiny roads!). I have a lovely network of family and friends and I love the wild outdoors and how easy it is to get into nature. It’s pretty magical having an array of beautiful beaches to enjoy and fun waves to surf. I draw a lot of inspiration from the area I live in and it’s a very lovely community – everyone knows everyone else, which is (usually) a good thing!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
There are so many brilliant things about being an illustrator, I still have to pinch myself when I think that I get to do this as a job! Drawing has always been one of my favourite things to do – I’d sit for hours when I was little writing poems and illustrating them. Now I get to do it in my own house, sometimes dressed in my pyjamas and always with a big mug of herbal tea! I can fit it around my little family and I love being able to take a sketch book with me to capture anything that might inspire me when I’m out and about.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I like using a range of mediums. My regular go-to’s are watercolours, inks, gouache, pencils, pastels and fineliners but I love to mix in things like collage or anything else that I think might look fun. Nowadays I often finish off a piece of work in photoshop or in procreate on the ipad – I like the extra elements that working digitally can bring but I always want my work to have a natural, hand-drawn feel to it.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
I’m enjoying drawing characters more and more – for a long time I found them frustrating and pretty tricky but as I’ve kept practicing they have become a lot more fun! I think my favourite things to draw are probably flowers and plants – I seem to end up doodling these whenever I have a piece of paper in front of me!

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

I have so many favourite illustrators and I discover more and more every day! My first and foremost will always be Quentin Blake – his illustrations were always an inspiration to me from the word go. I love Oliver Jeffer’s work, his illustrations are so clever. David Litchfield has such a wonderful, cinematic style – his book, ‘The Bear and the Piano’ is just beautiful. Alex T Smith and Lauren Child are in my top favourites too, and Rebecca Green’s characters and style are just wonderful. There are so many more – I could write pages but I’d better stop here!

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I do like a little character called Eleanor who has a big curly top of hair – she was fun to draw. I feel like I’m still growing into my children’s book style at the moment and each character I create I like a little better than the last – I’m excited to see who else turns up in my sketch pad next!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I love getting outdoors. Jumping in the sea, going for jog or a walk, or just running about on the beach and in the countryside with my little family. We always usually manage to find a nice café to stop at for a pit-stop cup of tea too!

How did you get into illustration?
I was in Australia and looking for work, which was proving very hard to find! I ended up spotting a little ad in a newspaper which was asking for people to edit history books. I had an interview in a coffee shop, got the post and managed to persuade them to let me do the illustrations as well – it’s gone on from there!

What or who are you most inspired by?
I’ve always been hugely inspired by nature – there are so many wonderful and beautiful things in the natural world that get my creative cogs whirring. On the other side, Instagram and Pinterest are a huge source of artistic inspiration – they are a never-ending and constantly updated library of creative magic. I find it can be a bit overwhelming to dive in too deep though so try to limit myself to how much of a rabbit hole of scrolling I go down!  

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1.    Never give up! It might feel impossible at times but keep on – if you work hard enough then you will get there in the end!
2.    Draw, draw and draw some more. It might sound obvious but the only way to get better is to draw as much as possible! I often find I can be feeling totally stuck but if I just make myself sit it out and keep sketching, a good piece magically appears when I’ve been despairing it may never!
3.    Be true to yourself. Its hard when there are so many incredible artists out there whose work you may love – its fantastic to draw inspiration from other’s work but at the end of the day you have to make sure that its your own style that you are creating and not a copy of someone else’s. If you love what you’re drawing enough then your own unique style will shine through. 

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I had so many that it’s hard to say! We lived in Kenya when I was little and we had no television so mine and my brother’s treat every week was to go to the big bookshop and choose a book – we used to look forward to it so much! I absolutely loved anything by Roald Dahl, as well as all of the Famous Five books by Enid Blighton. I would always pick up anything to do with animals too – the Willard Price books about two brothers who travelled the world collecting animals were my favourites too. I’m enjoying reading all of these to my daughters now!

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I’ve just finished ‘Teatime for the Traditionally Built’ by Alexander McCall Smith. It’s from his No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and I just love the series – I’ve read most of them a couple of times! They are set in Botswana and are so gently written with humour and a lovely simplicity that I find them a nice, calming escape when life is feeling a bit hectic!

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
To work hard on creating lots of children’s book work and draw as much as possible. I’d l also like to do yoga at least twice a week and manage to do a really good headstand!

What’s your ultimate dream?
To be able to work and illustrate whilst travelling – I’d love to go on a big, worldwide travel adventure with my husband and girls where we visit every country we can and fill up lots of sketchbooks with all the amazing things we see!

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