Friday, 2 December 2016

5 Minutes With... Eefje Kuijl

For today's interview, we're catching up with Dutch illustrator Eefje Kuijl from her home in Breda in the Netherlands. We wanted to chat to Eefje about all things illustration, including her favourite Dutch illustrators and how she's always know illustration was the career for her! 


Where do you live/work?

I’m a Dutch illustrator. I live and work in Breda, a city in the south of the Netherlands, with my husband, two kids and a dog. I work at home from my attic.

What do you love about working there?

There, I can do the thing that I love most, and do it all day long and away from my noisy kids. I love them so much (of course) but I cannot draw well if they want my attention. 


What are your dislikes?

The attic is also the laundry room right now. I sit beside the ironing board and every once in a while a pile of laundry … Not so nice. My dream is to have a spacious workspace near my home, in a garden house or a garage. Sometimes I do miss having colleagues.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love creating something. Most of the time the illustrations are published and you can literally hold the end product in your hands! It is always so much fun to come up with new characters and to be busy with colour and composition.

I also like the variety of being an illustrator. Every commission is different. It never gets dull.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

Usually I draw everything right away in Photoshop, using my Wacom pen. Every now and then I like to use photos and blend them with the illustrated elements in a balanced way.

What is your favourite thing to draw?

People! Their faces, haircuts, to decide what clothes I draw on them. Big people, small people, old people, etc.


Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

It is a business. ;-) Other (less fun) stuff also needs attention occasionally. Administration, finding new clients, reading contracts, social media, keeping your website up to date etc. etc. Also, I do love to work on my own but sometimes it can get a little lonely.

What or who are you inspired by?

So many things! My kids when I have to draw other little children. Some Dutch illustrators I really look up to are: Mark Janssen and Philip Hopman. They both make children books and can create such atmospheric illustrations. And Fiep Westendorp. I love all the little details in her illustrations.

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

I like to have diner with friends in a cosy restaurant. Spend time with my family and long walks with our dog. She is getting older but when we throw a ball she acts as she was a puppy again.

How did you get into illustration?

I seriously never thought of anything else other than becoming a professional illustrator.
Which is a bit strange if you know that my parents are not creative at all. As long as I can remember I wanted to draw, so I went to an art school in The Netherlands (University of the Arts Utrecht) where I studied illustration. I have worked as a freelance illustrator for various clients ever since. 


What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1) If you really really want to be an illustrator, go for it! Even if it means drawing late into the evenings to work on your portfolio. 

2) I am not the best at it, but use social media. I have seen and heard from other illustrators that they found many clients and commissions that way.

3) Try not to copy a style that you like, but find your own way of drawing. And always keep developing.
  
What’s your ultimate dream?

To make a series of big picture books for children. Books with illustrations from my heart. If you see the illustrations you'd want to rip them out of the book and hang them on your wall ;-). It would be even nicer if they sell really well. So I can make more picture books but even better haha.




We really enjoyed catching up with Eefje and hope you have too! To see lots more of her gorgeous work, visit her PP portfolio here and have a look on her website here! See you next time! 

'Swimming with Sharks' receives great reviews!

Swimming with Sharks: the Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark illustrated by Jordi Solano was published by Albert Whitman & Co yesterday! It tells the true story of the girl who grew up to be known as the "Shark Lady" and became one of the most inspiring scientists in the world. It has featured in a few blog posts recently, so we thought we'd list them here so you can have a read, and see just how fantastic this book really is!



The School Library Journal published a review, including this incredible appraisal of Jordi's illustrations:

"Solano’s gorgeous illustrations, done in a soothing, muted palette of greens and blues, suggest the ocean and enhance this selection’s appeal"





Mrs Knott's Book Nook:

Nerdy Book Club:



We hope you get the chance to read this incredible book telling the story of such an amazing woman! For more of Jordi's beautiful work, do visit his PP portfolio page here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Alison Brown's Snow Bear takes to Stage!

On Saturday, Alison's local Stagecoach school in Leeds put on a production based on Snow Bear (written by Tony Mitton & illustrated by Alison) with their youngest pupils of 4-5 years old. Alison went along to watch, with some of the beautiful original paintings in hand to show the children, and said the performance was amazing! Here are a few pictures from the show...















Be sure to visit Alison's PP portfolio page here for more of her stunning artwork from 'Snow Bear' and other gorgeous books including 'I'll Never Let You Go'.




Monday, 28 November 2016

Another Fantastically Great Event for Kate Pankhurst!

Well it's been a busy weekend for Kate Pankhurst! On Saturday, Kate ran an event at the Seven Stories Bookshop in Newcastle, celebrating her book 'Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World'. There was suffragette dressing up, a live drawing of Amelia Earhart and even a giant squirrel costume amongst others! Kate said she'll definitely be returning with son Otto for another look around Seven Stories, but for now, here's some pictures from the event to show you just how well it went...











An activity pack is available from Bloomsbury here  to get your kids involved with this incredible book! 




Thursday, 24 November 2016

5 Minutes With.. Janet Cheeseman

In light of today being publication day for the first book Janet has illustrated - The Calamitous Cook (A Race Further with Reading title published by Hachette imprint Franklin Watts) we thought we'd take 5 minutes to catch up with her! Here Janet tells us all about her life as a children's illustrator and how she is so often inspired by her daughter's cheeky and animated ways.


Where do you live/work?

I live in Walthamstow with my husband and little girl Bobbie. I find my cheeky daughter creeps into my illustrations causing chaos and injecting the fun and life.  I love to lots of movement  in my drawings so she's a great point of reference!

What do you love about working there?

 In my spare time I love music and going to see live bands, I love dancing, seeing friends and trying on (often purchasing) fancy retro frocks! Most of my weekends are spent in the park with my girl and her chums. I'm an ex film student too so I really love old movies. I love living in Walthamstow as its very artsy nowadays and there is so much to do for kids.  When I'm at home working I like listening to music and getting my inks and pencils out on my desk.



What are your dislikes?

Illustrating at home can be a little solitary and sometimes you need a bit of company but I work in a school too so I enjoy seeing all my friends and kids there a few times a week.

 What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I love how I can imagine someone else's idea and if it's the right thing for me the character just bounces onto the page. I love it when something just works and comes together easily. Ten I know it's the right job for me!

 How do you work – what are your techniques?

I love using pencils, inks and pens then I scan and use textures and colours in Photoshop. Sometimes I like to used real paints guashe too depending on the feel of the price.




What is your favourite thing to draw?

 Cheeky, naughty or spooky kids up to no good!

 Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

Sometimes making everything work within a scene is tricky for me. Backgrounds are not my specialty but I'm improving I hope!


 What or who are you inspired by?

I'm inspired by the story initially, but then the real kids hopping around in my world around me. I know a child who is crying out to be in a story or series of drawings soon, this one's a force of nature in an amusing way!




Do you have a favourite illustrator?

Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen - 'I Want my Hat Back' (Klanssen) is a fave!

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

In my spare time I love music and going to see live bands, I love dancing, seeing friends and trying on (and often purchasing) fancy retro frocks! Most of my weekends are spent in the park with my girl and her chums. I'm an ex film student too so I really love old movies.


  How did you get into illustration?

I always loved to draw characters as a child. I drew fabulous ladies in wigs and dresses with long earrings. I remember feeling embarrassed when my mum showed the vicar, as my ladies were also endowed with waistcoats had wonderful cleavage to boot! I'd often draw for other friends in class, but then for many years I simply drew cards and pictures on presents for friends' birthdays. A few disappointing career moves and I decided to give the illustration world a go. It's taken me time to get commissioned work but has been well worth the wait!



What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

My top tips are to keep developing, keep asking for advice and showing as many professionals for advice till you make progress!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

As a kid I loved 'Where the Wild Things Are' and 'The Witches'.. Anything with a sense of danger or darkness really appealed to me. It was in preparation for my teenage goth era!




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

Viv Albertine from The Slits' book was such a page turner and really moving in places! But  my favourite of all time has to be 1984.


What’s your ultimate dream?

Life's ambition, now that's a toughie! I'd love some lovely chapter books or picture books under my belt, but I've got everything else in life I need, I'm very lucky to be a proud mother. Maybe a tattoo for my 40th next year and a whopping great party. Usually I'm pretty happy with some wine and a cheese board!




We hope you enjoyed our catch up with Janet! The Calamitous Cook is now available on amazon here so do go and have a look - it's perfect for encouraging independent reading in 6-8 year olds! For more of Janet's work why not visit her PP folio here! See you next time!