Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP artists, Joanne Partis! From how she creates her gorgeous mixed media images, to her advice for aspiring illustrators, let's get to know a little more about Jo...
Where do you live/work?
I work from home, which is a 1930’s house in a little village in West Sussex. It’s a bit of a renovation project, but my husband and I fell in love with it, and the lovely big garden which is perfect for our three children and now also home to our three chickens, Jemima, Betty and Tilly. It’s a lovely part of the world and we all enjoy exploring the countryside with a picnic.
What do you like about working there?
It never really feels like a chore to be sat at my desk with a cup of coffee, music on, cat on my lap (or on my artwork) working on something I love doing. Any job that you can do in your slippers can’t be too bad!
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I love getting a new brief, particularly if it’s for an idea that’s quite different from the kind of stories that I usually write. I also really like a challenge. Some of the novelty books with lift-the-flaps and pop-ups can be more complicated but they’re something I really enjoy working on.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I’ve always used a very mixed media. I generally use acrylics but add elements of collage, print and coloured pencil to try and recreate the idea I have in my head. At the moment I’ve been playing around with watercolours; I love how easily you can work into your pictures with coloured pencils. I do use a little Photoshop but mainly for tweaking and tidying my finished artwork.
What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Big, bold jungle scenes with lovely bright colours and maybe a Tiger or two?
What or who are you most inspired by?
I think Judith Kerr is fantastic. Not just for her life story, which is amazing in itself, but I really love her beautifully observed stories. There’s a real honest simplicity to them which makes them so appealing.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
There are so many great illustrators at the moment. I love Oliver Jeffers’ work and our copies of his books are very well worn! Benji Davis’ illustrations are beautiful and I also really like Rebecca Cobb’s work.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
With three children spare time is quite rare! I love cooking, which is quite fortunate as I spend a lot of time doing it! Luckily my three are quite adventurous with food so we have fun picking out new recipes to cook together. Sushi is one of our favorites. I’m also a big movie fan and love sci fi and superheroes. I also have a bit of a secret love of zombie films…
How did you get into illustration?
I’ve always loved all areas of art so found it hard to decide what to do after A levels. I really loved working on printed textiles but my work seemed most suited to illustration which I decided to study for my degree. In my final year I entered the Macmillan Children’s book competition, which was when everything really fell into place and I’ve never looked back!
What is your top tip for aspiring illustrators?
There are some fantastic and very successful illustrators at the moment. It can be very tempting to try and emulate what other people are doing but I think it’s really important to have your own recognisable style.
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I loved ‘The Large and Growly Bear,’ illustrated by John P Miller, which I now read to my children along with some beautifully illustrated fairy tale collections and of course, ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’ and ‘Mog’ by Judith Kerr. The first books that I remember being totally engrossed in were some children’s editions of Bram Stocker’s ‘Dracula’ and Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’.
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
I read all the time. My favourite thing is a hot bath, a glass of white wine and a good book! I do quite like a good post-apocalyptic thriller!! I’ve recently read ‘The End of the World Running Club’ by Adrian J Walker which was great and my eldest son and I have both been working our way through ‘The Hunger Games’ trillogy and have now moved on to ‘The Maze Runner’ series which we’re both loving. I’ve also recently finished ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ by Elisabeth Fremantle which I loved so much we had to have a day out to Hampton Court Palace to see where it all took place.
What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?
I’ve never had an agent before so I’m really excited about signing with Plum Pudding and hoping for some exciting new projects! I’ve got a few of my own ideas on the go at the moment that I’m planning to work up into picture books too. One is inspired by my little girl so it would be wonderful to see that published one day.
What’s your ultimate dream?
To carry on with what I’m doing, only from a little villa next to the beach in Greece! That would be nice!
We really hope you've enjoyed getting to know Jo, and learning a little more about her life as a children's illustrator! We're over the moon to have Jo with us at PP, and you can see more of her work on our site here!