Friday, March 20, 2015

A Birthday week...

My beautiful little baby girl turned 2 this week!
Happy Birthday my Darling Girl. You are a delight and we love you. x

Monday, March 16, 2015

Editors: Why they are so amazing to work with.

As usual there has been a lot going on over the past few weeks - not only on the work front, but behind the scenes. If I was going to draw things together in a theme I would have to say it’s all about new directions.

So, let’s start with work. I really want to share some insight into one of my current projects, as it really highlights the important role of an editor in the book making process. I also think there is a bit of lesson here for people just starting out, or new to this field.

When I work with a Publishing company on a book project, the Editor is the person that I have my day to day contact with. They are in charge of co-ordinating all of the people who work on the book, along with shaping the look and feel of the final product.

Currently, I am working through some cover artwork ROUGH concepts for a brand new book . Usually this is pretty straight forward. ( I am lucky that my editors have great imaginations to visualise the final product as I realise how ROUGH my roughs usually are! I have seen some stunning roughs that could be framed as works of art, but not mine! Mine are worthy of their ‘ROUGH’ title!)

Anyway, I personally like to send through about 3 different concepts in a rough, sketchy format just to get the ball rolling.

My philosophy on the magic number 3 is that I usually like to do the following:
  •            x1 rough that is exactly what was asked for.
  •            X1 that has a slight variation – usually with more of my own ideas       thrown   in there to tweak things a bit.
  •            x1 that might be more based on my own interpretation of the brief.

This doesn’t always involve x3 totally different roughs. Sometimes it’s just variations on the one idea, but I usually find that this approach leads directly into a clear brief for the final go ahead to colour up the artwork into final art, often using bits and pieces of ideas from all three roughs, and sometimes with a few extra new things added. I usually then go straight into the full colour, final artwork.

However, sometimes the path is not so straight forward.  In this case, my first roughs were a bit too ‘young and cute’ for the target audience. Here’s an example:

I was then sent lots of great visual reference to help guide me in a slightly new direction. This feedback was the outcome of some brainstorming sessions at the Publishing house. This is a great help to me as I sometimes feel that I am working alone and in isolation by working from home.

Such clear and direct feedback helps me to understand HOW to create artwork that will be more appealing to the target audience. I have been working in the ‘younger girls’ market for a while now, so it’s great to get a gentle reminder to push things into an area more suited to an older audience.  I am excited to be challenged in this way. Basic feedback included the need for more ‘attitude’, and a slight ‘sassy’ feel to the characters. I was excited with this feedback as I thought I had been a bit cautious with my initial ideas and was not sure how far to push things.

Here are some of my new ‘sassy’ girls and I was pretty happy with these actually:

These latest sketches were very well received but they have also sparked a brand new way of thinking for this cover artwork -  so it’s back to the drawing board with this one!

 It’s at this stage that I know many artists might get frustrated or take things personally.

I think that sometimes as a creative person, it’s easy to let your ego get in the way of things and to wonder if there’s something wrong with your artwork. But you know what. This happens every now and then with a project. Sometimes what you think you want in a design changes when you see the idea actually drawn up. This is part of the importance of the “roughs” phase of the design process.

 I guess my background in Product Development has helped me to understand that at the end of the day, we are all working towards getting a great product out into the market place that is really going to SELL! And this takes a team effort. I always see it as a great learning opportunity.
Once a book is out in the market place it’s easy to just give credit to the author or illustrator if you don’t really understand all of the work that an editor does to get a book into shape. The Publishing team is full of wonderfully experienced and talented people and I always learn so much from them with each new project.

I am lucky that I have been working with this team for a few years now and I know that they have great respect for me and for my work. This in turn helps me to trust their judgement and to see this as the great learning experience that it really is. I am so lucky to be working with such great people and I wanted to give some credit to the Editor’s role in the process.

So for now, it’s back to the drawing board! I can’t share too much more about this project at this stage, as we are on a tight deadline and the next batch of illustrations are going to have to be good enough to go to colour art as soon as we can, so that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for more NEW DIRECTIONS on the home front soon (no we are not moving house again, and NO I am NOT pregnant!!)

 I have also decided to delay my post about the processes we went through with the Ella Diaries cover artwork, as I hope to use this one as my introduction to a new  ‘guest blogging’ gig coming up shortly.

So thank you to those of you who waded through such a long post! I hope it helped someone out there! ….and now I have a toddler party to plan! Yep. My little baby is turning TWO this week! Busy, busy….x

Monday, March 9, 2015

On my desk...

I have just received my advance copy of the latest Ella and Olivia book. Yvette has done another fabulous job with this story, and I loved creating the illustrations for the TV scenes in this one - particularly the audience scene! Well worth a look!

I am also working on another Brand New project today, but as usual I can't say too much about this yet. It's for the older girls market. We are currently working through some ideas for the cover artwork. Here's a reject from some of the early roughs....

I have also drawn up my post about the processes we went through to get the Ella Diaries cover artwork finalised, so I will collate the images and try to share that with you later this week.

In the meantime, Maureen at Little Learners Love Literacy is keeping me busy with lots of activity sheets and sound cards for the next wave of resources in her wonderful Literacy program.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Crafty hopes

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to BE more creative - just for the fun of it. And by fun, I mean some HANDS ON stuff. You know. Craft and stuff! I was flicking through my Mum's copy of this wonderful book during my last visit to my parents...

...and I just can't get this image out of my head... 

I absolutely LOVE this idea. 

Then, I was exploring some local craft shops when I encountered these gorgeous tapestry wool colours. 

I just had to buy them. This has sparked a bit of a snowball effect, as I have ordered a copy of the book for myself and also ordered some hoodies and a few other crafty bits and pieces to get me started!

There is only one problem. I can't remember if I have ever actually done needle craft or embroidery before! Maybe I did when I was at school, but I really don't remember!

I am soooo excited. Of course, now I just need to work out how to survive without sleep if I am ever actually going to be able to start it!!

Then there is the other issue of the Illustrator in me wanting to create my own designs to transfer into this method. I look at this sort of line art and it makes me want to have a go at some of my own ideas.

 Part of what appeals to me about crafting is buying a kit, with all of the design decisions already made, and then I just get to enjoy the process of the crafting. Somehow I just always seem to complicate things! Does anyone else do this? 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I have been trying to share my wonderful new books with you all week, but things just have not gone to plan lately. My eldest daughter has started Pre-School for the first time and we are both having some separation anxiety issues. Our dog died from a snake bite this week (and the snake is still hiding somewhere in the yard – last seen near our back door….) and I missed a couple of deadlines with my work! (I RARELY miss deadlines!)

So here’s hoping the start of a new week brings a change of pace. But, I am FINALLY delighted to share the release of MY Brand New Australian Book Series for girls aged 7+. 

Published by the amazing team at Scholastic Australia and written by award-winning Meredith Costain, these books feature Ella and her crazy Year 5 life, recorded in a diary format full of hilarious doodles. 

I am absolutely thrilled with how well it has all come together and I am currently composing a bit of a “behind the scenes” peek into the processes and various stages of development that we went through to create this series, so drop by again if you are interested in this little insight.

Anyway, the books are available in all good books stores through out Australia (and on-line), so please grab a copy and let me know what you think!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I have stewed over this post long enough. Time to just share.

OK. So. Here’s the deal. I have been thinking a LOT about what I want from this year. Last year I took lots of online classes (and loved it). I filled a book with all kinds of business ideas. I let myself dream BIG. Then, I filled out this kit to try to narrow the field a bit, and work out an action plan. And then I had what I guess is referred to as a light bulb moment.


I feel like all of the courses I took in 2014 got me so wound up - encouraging me to BE MORE…and DO more….ACHIEVE more….somewhere along the way I lost sight of what it is I really wanted. The bottom line is that I have everything I need right now. I think I just got swept along with the momentum….

If you had told me in my University years that this is where I would be all these years later, then I would have been delighted! Not just career wise, but with my beautiful family and our gorgeous farm.

I also realised I AM A CHILDREN’S BOOK ILLUSTRATOR! I know that sounds silly after so many years of working in this field, but it suddenly struck me how many people strive for this, and a how long I strived for it! And here I am. I am DOING it. I AM ENOUGH.

I am SO lucky to be working with such fabulous Publishers and Clients and I LOVE my work so much. That’s enough for me.

I am a huge fan of Lilla Rogers’ teachings, and she recently challenged us with these words, "What if you wrote your art goal for 2015 on a sticky note? If you kept it really, really short and sweet and it hit the essence of your heart's desire, what would you write?" How could I possibly narrow the field to just one thing?! Then I realised that for me, it’s as simple as this (sorry it's not on a sticky note!!):

Since taking Lilla’s courses, it’s reminded me of how much I love ALL things creative. I miss the hands-on stuff. I want to MAKE stuff again….like I used to. I want to sew, craft, draw, write….just for the pleasure of it. We are also starting some renovations on our house…I want to paint, tile, mosaic… and I want to embrace farm life a bit more…by MAKING stuff….bread, jam, sauces…

We moved to our farm with the idea of leading a more simple life. Why am I trying to clutter things up? This is not to say that I can’t be open to new opportunity, I just want to enjoy what I have a bit more.

Umm….ok, now I am off to do some sketches for Lilla’s latest Boot camp assignment! JUST FOR FUN – I PROMISE!!