Saturday, April 30, 2011

Illustrations, a Magical World of Fantasy & Tales


© 2009-2011 Alex Colombo - ink and watercolor
Whimsical illustration used to make me daydream when I was little, as I looked at the colorful and magical drawings of some books depicting fantastic places and personages; they were extraordinary visual tales, perhaps a wish for a better world – it certainly was my world when I helped painting a fantasy mural and later on, when I'd create imaginary little "people"… just fun doodles that I had imagined only in my own mind.


I got to do more doodles as a grown-up, and I still enjoy creating them for my ongoing series of children's books, while I experiment and develop their style and colors. 

Artist Katriona Chapman
My guest today is an artist from London, who has been creating really unique drawings and hand making her own children's  books, full of wonderful illustrations and adventure stories. Her art is very inspirational and tells a tale of passion and beauty for illustrations.

The Moon from My Attic: Please introduce yourself: I'm Katriona. I've been illustrating (mainly kid's books) for about five years now, and have recently become interested in making hand-made books and self-publishing my own illustrated works. I'm also moving into selling my work at book fairs & craft fairs as well as online.

TMFMA: Where do you enjoy doing your creative work? I work in my living room! I'd absolutely love to have a studio space, but London's such an expensive place to live I don't think I'll be getting one anytime soon. Also, to be honest I quite like working on the sofa. I tend to work small so just enjoy being really comfortable while I work. The best thing about having a studio would be proper storage space, and a huge table to work at when cutting large sheets of paper.

© Katriona Chapman - Robins
TMFMA: How did you get started? I had no idea what to do with my drawing skills for a long time, so I did other things. Then someone suggested illustration and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before! I used to make and illustrate little books all the time as a child. I didn't want to study again, so I joined various trade organisations and went to lots of talks and read books about the industry. I then just started mailing samples out to publishers.

TMFMA: What is exciting about your creative work? I think creative work is exciting because you put so much of yourself into it, and when things work well it's incredibly satisfying on a personal level. Being commissioned by publishers that you admire, and seeing your work in a book is very exciting. But I've also found it really rewarding (also pretty stressful at times!) self-publishing my work and selling directly to customers. It's great knowing who's buying your work, and having more to with the whole process (making, promoting and mailing out your books). I also love that it's a lifetime's project... pushing yourself to get better all the time and seeing what you can achieve.

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: What's your favorite medium or tool you create with? I usually work in watercolour and coloured pencils, or just graphite pencils for black and white work. I'm also completely obsessed with paper, and making actual objects. That's why I'm less interested than some in moving towards digital, ebooks etc.

TMFMA: Do you work by yourself or do you also do collaborative work? Two out of three books I've brought out under my small-press name Tomatito Press so far have been collaborations. My first book 'Five' was written by a friend, and my second 'The Garden' was a collaboration with my boyfriend, where he did the line art in ink and I coloured it with pencils! I like collaborating but am also keen to self-publish some of my own stories and have the books be 100% my own.  Here you can see my handmade Tomatito Press books.

© Katriona Chpman
TMFMA: Tell us of a fun and creative project or a collaboration, and what you learned from it. 'Five' was an interesting collaboration, because we collaborated on the design of the book very closely, and I discovered that Masha (the author) was very good at book design. I realised that I was so focused on the illustrations themselves that I was almost neglecting the design side. She was more able to look at the book as a whole and be objective about it, whereas I was almost entirely concerned with how the illustrations looked.

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: Where do you like to look for inspiration? I get a lot of inspiration from the natural world. I love animals, and spend more time than I should watching animals in my garden. We have lots of birds, foxes, hedgehogs & lots of squirrels. I love watching their behaviour and how they interact. I also like looking at other illustrators' work for inspiration, and also learning from them how they promote themselves and things like that.

TMFMA: Is there a person or thing that has influenced you in your artistic efforts? I'm influenced by lots of people and things, but I think a lot of the children's books I saw as a child had a big effect on me. I liked books that were strange, unusual and imaginative. I loved Where the Wild Things Are, folk tales from different countries and Justin Todd's Alice in Wonderland.

TMFMA: What are the reasons for you to do what you do? I do this work because even though it's incredibly hard (and I don't make enough money to live on), it's just really enjoyable and rewarding. When I was younger I felt that I didn't have anything to express with my work, and I didn't have a focus, but now I have a list as long as my arm of projects I want to do. If only I can find the time!

© Katriona Chapman
TMFMA: What are your future aspirations and goals? My main goal is that I'd love to illustrate as a full-time job. I'd also like to get one of my own stories into print, and there are numerous great publishers I'd like to work with!
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