Thursday, 20 April 2017

5 Minutes with... Katy Halford

Welcome back to the '5 Minutes with..' series of interviews! Today we're excited to be chatting with new PP artist Katy Halford! From inspirational teachers, to her love of people watching and what inspires her gorgeous work, lets get to know a little more about Katy...


Where do you live/ work?

I live in a small town in Leicestershire called Melton Mowbray. I work at home, in my studio. Its a bright room and when the weather is good the sun shines straight into the room, and it really is beautiful.


What do you like about working there?

I enjoy having my own space, I find it comforting and easier to focus. I have everything I need at home and can choose to work when I'm at my best. I feel most creative in the afternoons and late into the evenings. I can work quietly or I can put the music on as loud as I want and really get lost in my work. Oh and also another bonus, I can dress how I please! We have a beautiful garden that is always full of birds too, so in the summertime I try to work outside as much as possible. We have two rabbits that are always around to keep me company too, their names are Hubert and Esme. We have a park just down the road from us, so I sometimes take myself for a walk through the park and into town to have a coffee.


What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I get to draw everyday, everything I have ever loved to do. Seeing the characters and environments I imagine in my mind progress from rough sketches to coloured art, is a really exciting process. Knowing that people buy and follow my work is really satisfying.

How do you work- what are your techniques?

My ideas always start off as sketches in my sketchbook- I love this part! I get to draw what I imagine and vision in my head and things start to come to life. I get to know the character I am drawing at this stage, sketching them in different positions and trying out different facial expressions. After the sketch process I sometimes create hand painted textures to add to the final coloured illustrations. I will then scan in my sketches and textures and add the colour using Photoshop. I use a Wacom tablet to draw with and have recently purchased an iPad Pro and use the Procreate app to add colour sometimes too.


What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

At the moment my favourite thing to draw is people and have just found a love of drawing dogs too. I guess this changes all the time.

If you had to choose, what would be your favourite character you have created?

To date I think it would have to be Norman and Ruby. I can't choose between them!



What or who are you most inspired by?

I think I am mostly inspired by everything around us, I particularly like people watching, seeing how different we all look and dress - this definitely inspires my characters. I am always on Pinterest, there is so much inspiration on there! I guess in terms of art/illustration, it is always changing as there is always new stuff on the scene, the list is endless. I am always inspired by my talented arty friends too!


Do you have a favourite illustrator?

Hmmm this is so tricky! There are so many illustrators I admire. To name a few I would say, Lauren Child, Lesley Barnes, Kate Hindley, Alex T Smith, Alison Oliver, Sara Fanelli there are so many more...

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

I love to visit National Trust properties, as I really like history. Going for long walks in the beautiful countryside, a particular favourite is Burghley House in Stamford. I also like to pot in the garden when/if I get some time. Catching up with friends and drinking tea is always good too!

How did you get into illustration?

Ever since I can remember I have always loved to draw and when I was little I used to write stories and draw the pictures to go with them. My main inspiration for illustration came from one of my sixth form teachers, as she was a practising illustrator. She used to show us all the work she did and it really opened my eyes to it. I then went on to study Illustration at Loughborough University and have worked hard at it ever since, continuing to learn and develop.


What are your top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Draw everyday or as much as you can, it's important to keep learning.
2. Believe in what you do, persevere and enjoy it.
3. Only be yourself, draw how you draw, don't try to be anyone else.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

I loved anything by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Each Peach Pear Plum and Funny Bones were favourites!), Brambly Hedge, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, anything from Roald Dahl, again the list is endless.



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

The last book I read was Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. It's a lovely book and has the most beautiful illustrations inside. I don't read too many adult novels, if I do read a novel its usually fantasy, historical or adventure. I have been reading The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett for a while, I pick it up every now and then and have a read. It's a very interesting and clever book, as the story is told by alternating through the eyes of the different characters.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

To continue to keep drawing and creating and get lots of illustrations drawn for people to enjoy. I hope to book tickets to go the Bologna Children's Book Fair next year, as I didn't make it this year.

What's your ultimate dream?

To write and illustrate lots of books for people to enjoy all over the world. I would love to be the illustrator of a child's favourite childhood book! I hope one day to get a dog friend!



We really hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about Katy's life as a children's illustrator! We're so excited to have Katy with us at PP, and can't wait to get started on lots of exciting projects! To see more of her gorgeous work, you can visit Katy's PP folio page here  or visit her website here

Monday, 10 April 2017

Ciao, Bologna!!

We're back, and what a wonderful few days we had at Bologna Children's Book Fair! This year, we had a PP stand and spent three days meeting with exciting clients, both existing and new, as well as meeting so many of our incredibly talented artists. We loved showing our artists' folios, as well as some fantastic concepts from our author/illustrators! We'll be spending the week following up all of our meetings, and can't wait to see what is to come for our artists!!! Here are just a few pictures from our time in Bologna...













Friday, 31 March 2017

Alison Brown & Jonny Lambert at Cardiff Children's Lit Fest!

Over the weekend, PP illustrators Alison Brown and Jonny Lambert both ran workshops at Cardiff Children's Literature Festival! While Alison read 'Little Owl's Egg' and got stuck into egg decoration with the kids, Jonny read 'Tiger Tiger' and created some amazing Tiger masks! We thought we'd share a few pictures from the events for you!





Monday, 20 March 2017

5 Minutes with... NEW ARTIST Neil Clark

Today we're very excited to be catching up with our newest PP artist, Neil Clark! From his work with Tigerprint, to his journey into illustration and his advice for aspiring illustrators, let's take five to learn a little more about Neil...

Where do you live/work?

I live in Rodley, on the edge of Leeds, somewhere between the rolling hills and the bustling city. I like the balance. When I'm illustrating greeting cards, I work in the lovely Tigerprint Studio, near Bingley. Otherwise, you'll find me beavering away at home, tucked away in my spare room/studio.


What do you like about working there?

Tigerprint has been great to me over the years. It's inspiring to work in a big studio surrounded by so many like-minded, vibrant creatives. In contrast, when I'm working for myself at home, it's quiet and peaceful. There's something comforting and magical about that alone time - moments to truly get lost and absorbed in your work - and I do get welcome distractions from my cat, Mila.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

When you’re fully engrossed in the process - I love that moment when something you're working on suddenly sparks and you can't wait for it to all fall into place. And of course, when you see your illustrations on products, in the shops and with happy customers!

How do you work – what are your techniques?

Everything starts life in a sketchbook, or in a layout pad / on the back of an envelope. By sketching I can create a vision, not only amongst the scribbles, but also in my mind - something to aim for I guess. Then it's onto the Mac… I can't imagine life without Illustrator and Photoshop! I guess my technique is often to combine bold vector shapes with hand drawn line, mark making or texture. It depends on the brief though - one job can be very clean and graphic, and the next really inky and messy!



What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

It changes all the time. At the moment its rabbits!

If you had to choose, what would be your favourite character you have created?

I've got to say Rusty the Robot - I love that guy!



What or who are you most inspired by?

Gig posters, books, comics, people watching, travelling, music, so much music, my many  talented friends, and my super talented wife Dalia - she's always bursting with creativity which is infectious!

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

Such a hard question! At the moment I can't get enough of Chris Sasaki, Ben Newman, Jon Klassen, Robert Hunter, Malika Favre… I could go on and on.

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

I love to skateboard. It's just the best feeling. And I'm in a band. We're called The Razerbills, we wear masks, capes and fezzes and play wild instrumental surf garage!



How did you get into illustration?

I studied Illustration at Manchester Met, it was great, I loved it, but it didn’t prepare me for the working world! I spent months struggling for work, and getting rejections, before Tigerprint gave me a break and I started helping out in their studio. Since then I’ve spent years learning about commercial design, building skills, building contacts, and generally putting in the hard graft.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

No matter how many knock-backs, be confident in your abilities… it’ll show in your work.  Don’t stop learning new skills – it’s what keeps things exciting. 
And like that poster says… Don’t be a dick, just be nice, it’s that easy. Haha.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

The books that jump to mind are The Jolly Postman, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and those Usborne Books of Monsters and UFO’s.



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

It was The Bear & the Piano by David Litchfield. I got a signed copy when I visited the Seven Stories Children’s Book Centre in Newcastle. An amazing place, and an amazing book – I love it! The last adult book I read was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I just love his style. I must admit, I’m not a huge reader of novels, but his use of words is amazing. I’d recommend any of his books for some beautifully written magic realism.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

I can see it being a busy one! I want to get as many pieces of work out there in the world for people to enjoy as i can. There’s a few projects on the go already that I’m excited about.

What’s your ultimate dream?

To stay happy and creative I guess. To create characters and illustrations that travel far and wide! Getting some more children’s books under my belt would be amazing. For children to look back in years to come, with fond memories of my illustrations, would be a dream come true!


We really hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Neil! We're so excited to have him with us at PP, and if you want to see more of his amazing work, head to Neil's PP folio page here!


Monday, 13 March 2017

Alison Brown's Illustrated Window!


On Friday, Alison Brown took to decorating the window of the wonderful Grove Bookshop in Ilkley! With the help of local primary school children, who coloured flowers for the display, the window came to life with the characters from two of Alison's books: The mouse pair from 'I’ll Love You Always', and the bears from 'I’ll Never Let You Go'! We thought we'd share with you some pictures from the process!






The finished window!

Friday, 10 March 2017

5 Minutes with... Ana Gomez

In today's instalment of the '5 Minutes with..' series, we're catching up with Ana Gomez from her home in Madrid! From her favourite childhood (and current!) illustrators, to the inspiration behind her fantastic illustrations, lets get to know a little more about Ana...

Where do you live/work?

I live in the centre of Madrid. I work at home in a tiny, sunny room. My views are as though I'm in a village but actually I'm in the centre of the city. I love that.



What do you like about working there?  

There's so much culture here! I live in a very lively neighbourhood, where all the main museums and cultural centres are. I like to stay at home, so I have all I need. I can sing really loud without disturbing anyone...



What do you love most about being an illustrator? 

Imagining… characters, situations, scenarios.

How do you work – what are your techniques? 

Firstly, I do the sketches with pencil on paper, then I scan the sketches and I make the illustrations completely digital. I used to work with an Intuos tablet, but recently I have bought a digital screen. 

What is your favourite thing to draw and why? 

Animals (including fantasy ones!) and kids!!


If you had to choose, what would be your favourite character you have created?

A friendly Dragon I did for a book called “Campfire Tail” by Sterling publishing. I just 
adore it ! (A Campfire Tail will be published in May 2018 - keep an eye out for Dragon!) 

What or who are you most inspired by? 

I'm inspired by kids, humour, books (not necessarily with pictures), everyday life and movies amongst many other things.





Do you have a favourite illustrator? 

I have lots of them. There's so many good illustrators out there. I love the humour of Quentin Blake and Tony Ross.

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

Spend time with my kid, travel, read, paint ... 



How did you get into illustration? 


Through working hard and perseverance.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators? 

Keep going, keep learning, keep enjoying!

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

"The Witch's Handbook" by Malcom Bird:


“The Fantastic Adventures of the Untamable Little Man” by Hans Traxler


“I'm a fish” illustrated by J.R. S├ínchez


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

It was a comic called “Skibber Bee-Bye”. Is a unique story with a personal look and it's told in a very different way. The main character is so well constructed. Very inspiring!

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017? 

I would like to create my own picture book. As an author and illustrator.

What’s your ultimate dream?

In the illustration field …to just keep enjoying.


We really hope you've enjoyed catching up with Ana and learning a little more about her life as a children's illustrator! To see more of Ana's work, you can visit her PP folio pages here, or visit Ana's website here!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Fantastically Great Women's Day!

We're elated to see that Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, written and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst, hit number 2 on Amazon's best sellers list this morning! This incredible news follows yesterday's International Women's Day, and we're so glad that the stories of these inspirational women are being shared!