As part of the inaugral Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.
Liz McGrath is the illustrator of the new Happy Pants, due for release in May 2014.
I'm Liz McGrath, the illustrator of Happy Pants, a bittersweet story of a little boy whose life is turned upside down when his new baby brother arrives. The boy is very confused by his mum's changed mood. It's a sad time for him, but the story shows the family finding support, and ends as we glimpse a brighter future for them all.
Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?
I've always loved to draw and paint, and became an art teacher. Over the years I've illustrated lots of books, but most of them don't appear in bookshops. They are the sort of books or booklets that you are given for free. For example a multicultural songbook that was given to kids when they visited their maternal and child health nurse. And a book showing non-English speaking mums ideas on how to be active with their kids. Even a kit used in schools used to encourage kids to walk or ride to school. I've also done lots of posters, postcards and magnets. In fact my own kids used to say "you may not be famous Mum, but you sure are on a lot of fridges!"
Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?
Understanding someone else's idea, and bringing it to life. It's a shared journey, and that can take a lot of talking and listening.
Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an illustrator?
I feel very lucky when I spend time at my desk working with paints and pencils. It's like a dream come true. And I get really excited about seeing the finished product.
Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?
Rough sketches, and lots of them. Look out for the bits that work, and think about what makes them work.
Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?
Listen carefully, read lots of great picture books, and have fun.