Tuesday, 10 January 2017

5 Minutes with.. Claire Shorrock

It's our first interview of 2017 and for this instalment of the "5 Minutes With.." series, we've been catching up with Claire Shorrock. From her love of dogs to her favourite childhood books and how she creates her gorgeous illustrations, let's take five to get to know a little more about Claire..

Where do you live/work?

I live in Bristol and work from a studio near the centre.

What do you like about working there?

I do occasionally work from home but I love going in to the studio, it’s just nice to be around people as illustrating can get a bit lonely! It’s also useful when you get stuck on something to be able to have someone else look at it and give you an honest opinion.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love being able to communicate ideas and stories through my drawings, and I find painting really therapeutic. I also love being able to set my own hours and seeing my work in print is really rewarding. 

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I start with ideas in sketchbooks, then use gouache and coloured pencils for the final artwork, but also edit the final images in Photoshop. I have actually just treated myself to an iPad Pro which is amazing for editing so I'm experimenting with that too at the moment!

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

Dogs. I wish that question wasn’t so easy to answer but it’s my default.

What or who are you most inspired by?

People, nature, interiors and patterns in spaces in general. I love travelling and going to galleries, which I don’t do enough.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

I love the work of so many illustrators, but to name a few, John Burningham, Miroslav Sasek, Quentin Blake and Beatrice Alemagna are all so brilliant.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

Walk the dogs, read, go to the cinema, eat and drink with friends, also, do yoga and (begrudgingly) run.

How did you get into illustration?

I went to Leeds College of Art to do an art foundation, with an interest in interior design, but then realised that what I loved most was drawing and so I applied to do Illustration at the University of the West of England.

What is your top tip for aspiring illustrators?

Just draw all the time. This is something that I didn’t realise the importance of when I was in my first year of uni as I was more concerned with how everything looked. You spend more time worrying about what you want the final piece to be instead of just drawing, and actually, this is the only thing that will make you progress!

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

The giant Jam Sandwich, The  Tiger Who Came to Tea and when I was a bit older, The Solitaire Mystery. (So good, if you haven’t already, read it!)

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

The Wind up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Maurakami. I really loved this book and love Murakami’s work in general. He writes about modern day Japan and never leaves out the mundane details but there is always mystery and magic.

What are your aspirations for 2017?

I want to publish more of my own books, I have at least three in the pipeline but finding time to work on them, amongst the other work is sometimes tricky! I also love illustrating books for other writers so more of that too.

What’s your ultimate dream?

To be doing exactly what I am to be honest, with more books under my belt and loads of dogs!

We really hope you've enjoyed getting to know more about Claire's life as a children's illustrator! You can find more of Claire's incredible work on her PP folio page here or on her own website and blog here!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ashley King to Judge Stratford Lit Fest Children's Book Competition!

If you are an illustrator and haven't been published in the UK previously, entries are closing soon for the Stratford Literary Festival's Children's Picture Book Competition! You have until 12th Jan to submit your work!

The judging panel includes none other than lovely PP artist Ashley King, amongst many others including Nick Butterworth and Sarah McIntyre! To read more about the competition and entry requirements, have a look at the Strat Lit Fest site here, and find more of Ashley's incredible work on his PP folio here!

Ashley's recently revealed cover for The Bookshop Girl

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 2017, hey? How on Earth did that happen?! Here at Plum Pudding, we're looking forward to a year filled with exciting projects for our illustrators, and it certainly is shaping up to be a busy one! We thought we'd share with you some of the titles that you can look forward to this month...

1st January 2017
Purim Chicken
Puy Pinillos
Albert Whitman & Co

3rd January 2017
Candy Fairies: Mini Sweets
Erica Jane Waters

12th January 2017
Marge and the Pirate Baby
Eglantine Ceulemans
Piccadilly Press

12th January 2017
I'll Love You Always
Alison Brown
Bloomsbury Children's UK

16th January 2017
My Tail's Not Tired
Paula Bowles
Child's Play

Friday, 23 December 2016


We just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Plum Pudding! We've absolutely loved working with all of our amazing illustrators this year, and look forward to many more exciting projects next year! 

Thanks to Alison Brown for this gorgeous Snow Bear animation!

Friday, 16 December 2016

5 Minutes with... Paula Bowles

With her folio updated with lots of gorgeous new work, we thought this week would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with Paula Bowles! From her love of cycling and Lindy Hop, to her bustling studio space and extensive list of favourite illustrators, let's get to know a little more about Paula...

Where do you live/work?

I live in Bristol, UK, in a part of the city which is quite green and quiet, with a great view from a great bridge! And I work from a big shared studio in the middle of the city.

What do you like about working there?

My studio is quite lively with lots of other lovely illustrators and designers buzzing about,
so lots of company which is nice! Our studio is part of a huge 5 story building, called Hamilton House, which was derelict before a group of forward thinking people took it on as a project about 9 years ago. They turned it into, what is now, one of Bristol’s most popular community venues, with dance classes, theatre, wellbeing, yoga, music, art studios, and spaces for small businesses. So I can pop upstairs and get a massage, or join a yoga session now and then! There’s even a great bar/cafe/music venue here, so handy for coffee and lunch.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I get to think up characters and their worlds, and ‘play’ with them all day! It’s like a
continuation of childhood imaginative play, except I do it inside my head and on paper, rather than out loud - running around pretending to be a unicorn… I’d get some odd looks otherwise! And I get to draw and write whilst listening to podcasts and the radio with a nice cup of tea and biscuits.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I do all my drawing by hand with actual real pencils. I have a light box to sketch images over and over to achieve the right level of… sketchiness. Then I scan my drawings, and I add all my colour with photoshop magic.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

I like drawing animals the most, I find them funny and enjoy exaggerating their characteristics.

What or who are you most inspired by?

I spend a lot of time observing the world around me, so inspiration comes from daily life, but also from nature and nature documentaries. I also pour over my favourite books in book shops and go to exhibitions and galleries.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

Oh, so many to choose from!
Oliver Jeffers (Love his characters and story telling!)
Nicholas Frith (Gorgeous colours and characters!)
Kate Hindley (A friend of mine, she’s just fab!)
Lauren Tobia, Sarah Warburton, Louise Cunningham (Also friends of mine, and also

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

I love my bike and enjoy going on long bike rides during the summer (I even cycled 450miles from Bristol to Paris!). I also enjoy swing dancing (lindy hop), it’s so playful and
energetic, and it’s good to jump around to music after a day’s drawing at my desk. I love
going to art events and theatre around Bristol, and I love travelling to different parts of the world when I can.

How did you get into illustration?

I studied my illustration degree at Falmouth College of Arts, down in Cornwall. Then after I graduated (about 11 years ago!) I pestered publishers and agents with my portfolio, visiting London and the Bologna Book fair, where I met Mark who then asked me to join this agency* he was setting up, so I said yeah, ok! Then I began to get some work coming in.

*Plum Pudding!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Persevere. It’s not always easy, it can have it’s ups and downs financially (as any freelance work does). 

2. Be patient. Don’t expect things to happen immediately!

3. Keep drawing! And keep experimenting and trying things out, you will change and grow throughout your career. Don’t be afraid of this.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

Shirley Hughes - Dogger

Roald Dahl - The Twits

Dr Seuss - The Sneetches and Other Stories

What was the last book you read? What did you think?

Diana Wynne Jones - Deep Secret

It was great! Diana Wynne jones weaves reality with fantasy with such ease, the story stuck with me during the day so I imagined magic around me in the real world, and not least because the story is partly set in Bristol!

What’s your ultimate dream?

Oooh, I would love to continue illustrating and writing children’s books, travel and see the world with my best buddy, live in a beautiful self-sufficient treehouse in the woods… or if I could talk to animals, or fly like a bird, that would be fantastic too!

We really hope you enjoyed catching up with Paula! Why not head over to the PP site to see all the fab new work on Paula's folio here! Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 9 December 2016

5 Minutes with.. Eglantine Ceulemans

This week we've been catching up with Eglantine Ceulemans from her home in Lyon. We've been discussing all things children's illustration, from her love of character creation, to what inspires her and her three top tips for aspiring illustrators. So why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and lets get to know a little more about Eglantine...

Where do you live/work?

I live in Lyon, France, and work from home. I usually work from a studio, but I have recently had an operation and I am now recovering at home. I shall be back at the studio soon!

What do you love about working there?

My co-workers. You can feel lonely when you work by yourself. It's always nice to have someone giving you advices, chatting with you and with whom you can have fun during lunchtime. Also, I have no children of my own, and love spending time with my co-workers’ tiny humans when they come in to the studio.

What are your dislikes?

I hate stepping into a puddle on the bathroom floor when I have my socks on. But maybe you are asking about what I don’t like about working in a studio? There are no dislikes for now. I'm really happy to work in such a creative environment.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love creating universes and meeting new imaginary friends. Every new character I have the chance to illustrate has its own proper universe, even if it's not written in the story, 
I imagine its personality, its parents' names, what it likes, dislikes and even what its favourite book is.

On the topic of creating universes, it's always nice to illustrate what you can't have in real life: a wacky world where otters speak English and wear bow-ties, where we would walk on walls if we'd fancy it or where you can see 30ft tall ice-creams.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

It depends on the projects whether I work digitally or traditionally. 

Digitally, I work on a cintiq: a screen you can draw on with a stylus. I find it very intuitive and it gives me the impression of drawing on paper.

Traditionally, though I start my roughs digitally, I print them and trace them using Indian ink with a nib or a very sharp pen. Then I colour them with an ink called Colorex.

What is your favourite thing to draw?

Tough question! It really depends on the story I'm illustrating... However, I'm very keen on unusual things, this gives me the opportunity to hide elements that aren't written in the story and aren't supposed to happen in the real world: mice having a fancy dinner, a knitting spider, extravagant clothes etc.

Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

I shall say...administrative things and accountancy ! Ugh, I hate it so much.

What or who are you inspired by?

I am mostly inspired by little details: my friends' socks with a lemon pattern, that I might use for one of my characters vests, the crazy hat my great-aunt wore for my cousin's wedding (it had at least 7 different types of feathers on it!) or even atypical interiors: my godmother has hundreds of puppets hanging on the wall by her stairs - it's amazing!

But of course, I have also been greatly inspired by some illustrators, from being a childhood until today: Babette cole, Quentin Blake, Posy Simmonds, and french ones as well: Benjamin Chaud, Sempé, Gabrielle Vincent and many others...

What do you like to in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

I love cycles. I have bought many over the years, but most of them got stolen (the joy of living in a big city...). I love fixing them (still learning not to break them even more though...), painting them and collecting some very very old ones (one of them was 80 years old!). Today, my trusty steed is named Sylvie (yes, I give names to my bikes), it is light blue and comes with me wherever I go.

How did you get into illustration?

A little bit by accident...I've always drawn, when I was a child, I was very quiet and it was a nice way to express myself. But it never came to my mind to make a living out of it. When I imagined a job where you would draw, I would imagine a tormented artist in a rickety studio painting a depressing landscape on a big canvas. 

My drawings were made to make people laugh, and I couldn't imagine myself being that sad painter I pictured...

So I got into accounting...It turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life.

Then someone told me about Emile Cohl art school, where you train to be an illustrator. I went there and have never looked back.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1) Work hard. Never stop drawing...it's the only way to progress.

2) Have fun. Don't force yourself to draw flowerpots if you don't like it. If your thing is 'horses' for instance, go for horses everywhere, but add some challenges: add a rider, tell a story with your drawing, try to add a background etc. You should progress and have fun at the same time.

3) Don't hesitate to contact other illustrators, they can give you good advice and reassure you if you're having doubts (I started doing this when I was quite young: at 14 years old, I sent an email to a very well-known illustrator, he gave me loads of advice that I'm still following today). 

What’s your ultimate dream?

Maybe travelling around the world with Sirius' flying motorbike.

Marge in Charge illustrated by Eglantine and written by Isla Fisher is available now here, with a second title coming in January! For more of Eglantine's amazing work, visit her PP folio page here!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Emma Randall's Christmas Animation!

Emma Randall's beautiful illustrations have been used to create this nativity animation as well as a booklet for the Bible Society! Take a look at the stunning animation below, and for more of Emma's artwork visit her PP portfolio here!