#FlorisDesign Illustrator Interview: Kirsteen Harris-Jones
#FlorisDesign Illustrator Interviw: Kirsteen Harris-Jones
Kirsteen illustrated her first Picture Kelpies book, No Such Thing as Nessie!, back in 2013 for none other than Chani at DiscoverKelpies! And since it’s one of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge books, we thought it would be great to find out a little more about its wonderful illustrator.
Hi Kirsteen, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! No Such Thing as Nessie! is one of our favourite Picture Kelpies covers – where did you look for inspiration?
Hello! Well, I picked up a few brochures from my local travel agent about Scotland to get a feel for the landscape and Googled lots and lots of images of the castle, as I wanted to get it just right. I also looked online for lots of postcards of Nessie!
That must have been lots of fun! I bet there were plenty to choose from too. Now, as well as the cover, you had the whole book to illustrate – do you have a favourite page?
I love the last page of Nessie munching through her shortbread underwater!
We love it too! It makes us giggle every time – it must be good shortbread! We’ve been speaking with quite a few of our illustrators recently and they all seem to work in very different ways and in very different places; do you have a favourite spot to work in?
My office is in a corner of a spare room in my cottage in Shropshire, I have recently had a revamp of my room so I have more space as it gets over run with paper!! Mountains and mountains of paper – bet you didn’t know illustrating could be quite so dangerous?! I’m just about to move into a new office outdoors all to myself, where I can relax about making a mess!
That sounds like the #FlorisDesign corner! Luckily we don’t mind a bit of mess! So what made you decide to become a children’s illustrator?
I have three children of my own and after reading the plethora of picture books out there, I thought it would be nice to put my Graphic design/illustration background to good use. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, so it just felt like a natural progression, to draw for children.
It must be lovely to think that your children might read the books you’ve illustrated! Now for another question we always like to ask: do you prefer to work digitally or traditionally?
I draw and paint traditionally but use Photoshop to clean and add to my work. I really prefer to work traditionally as I get a lot of satisfaction from the tactile hands-on quality it gives to a piece of work which you don’t get from digital artwork.
That’s really interesting, it’s something quite a few of our illustrator’s have said. So when you’re not illustrating for children, what’s your favourite thing to draw?
I love to draw a human figure and I try to go to life drawing as much as I can, as it really is so important to practice.
That’s great advice, practice makes perfect after all! Now, what do you do if you get illustrators block on a brief?
I usually walk my dogs and try to clear my head. We have lots of lovely calming walks as we live near the Shropshire canal network, it usually does the trick!
That sounds very relaxing. And finally, who is your favourite illustrator and why?
I really love Babette Cole as she isn’t afraid to tackle subjects that may appear to be taboo for children, an example being Mummy laid an Egg all about where babies come from! She uses simple language and lots of humour to get her story across and her illustrations are so beautifully loose, colourful and full of fun.
Thanks again for speaking with us today, Kirsteen! We’ve loved learning more about No Such Thing as Nessie! and we’re sure our readers will have too!
Kirsteen studied at the College of Art Design and Technology, North East Wales institute in the 1980s, and then later returned in 2005. To see more of her work you can visit her Bright Agency page or follow her on Twitter.
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