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Illustrating Children’s Crime Fiction

Posted on 16/10/2017 in Design and Illustration Fun Stuff Guest posts Illustrators Top-Secret Grandad and Me Uncategorized

In our latest #FlorisDesign interview we spoke to Spanish illustrator, Laura Aviñó, about illustrating children’s crime fiction in David MacPhail’s new comic novel Top-Secret Grandad Me: Death By Tumble Dryer! Chatting about the challenges of conveying comedy through illustration and seeking inspiration in the city of Barcelona Laura reveals why she loves her job so much.


Hi Laura, thanks for talking to us today. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi! It’s a pleasure.  I was born in 1988 in Barcelona, Spain, where I’ve always lived. I studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona, focusing on drawing, and I then did a training course in illustration, which I enjoyed a lot. Now I work as both a freelance illustrator and a graphic designer for a toy company. My favourite thing to do is (unsurprisingly) drawing, but I also enjoy travelling, playing volleyball and learning new things, for example I’m now also taking diving lessons.


Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death By Tumble Dryer by David MacPhail. Illustrating Children's Crime Fiction with Laura Aviñó

Grandad’s not so good at walking through doors!

We’d love to hear about your decision to become an illustrator.

I’ve always wanted to work as an illustrator or designer. So, I feel very lucky to be able to do what I’ve always wanted to do.

Do you work using traditional methods or digital methods or both?

I usually use digital methods rather than traditional, because it’s faster and sometimes I can animate the scenes. But I always carry around a small sketchpad and some pens to do some sketching.

What sorts of things do you most enjoy drawing?

I love to draw crazy scenes, with lots of characters, detail and humour. And it’s always fun to design cool characters, like ghosts (looking at you Grandad Patel!), pirates and dinosaurs.


Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death By Tumble Dryer by David MacPhail. Illustrating Children's Crime Fiction with Laura Aviñó

Never put on a dead man’s glasses!

Have you ever visited Glasgow, or Scotland, before?

Unfortunately, not yet, but I’m really look forward to visiting Scotland in the future; the wild landscape and countryside seems so magical. I hope I will be able to visit at the beginning of next year.

What did you enjoy most about working on Top-Secret Grandad?

From the very beginning when I first read the plot I knew I was going to have fun with this book and I really enjoyed working on it. It’s an hilarious story which mixes detectives, crazy mysteries and ghosts. Grandad is definitely my favourite character though. Comedic scenes are always a challenge to illustrate, you need to be very accurate with the expressions and gestures of the characters in order to make sure it’s funny but still making sense to the reader. Although they’re challenging these are my favourite scenes to work on by far.

Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death By Tumble Dryer by David MacPhail. Illustrating Children's Crime Fiction with Laura Aviñó

I had to think of something to say, but what? “Er, is this a laundry?”

Do you have any tricks in your bag for when you get stuck on a brief?

When I get stuck on a brief I try to stop and do a different activity. I usually go out for a walk, do some sport or I meet up with some friends. Always with my sketchpad, just in case! Living in Barcelona I’m surrrounded by world-famous art and design. It is a very special city. We are lucky to have so many museums, parks and inspiring architecture. There are many interesting places to visit, and not only for its design, but also for its history. Personally, I love to walk along random streets and discover new places.

Is working as an illustrator what you expected?

Sometimes it’s hard to organise your time, especially if you work at home, as deadlines are usually very tight. But it’s well worth it when you see the final results.

Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death By Tumble Dryer by David MacPhail. Illustrating Children's Crime Fiction with Laura Aviñó

“Perched on top of his head was a silly sort of hat that he always wore, the kind of thing you see in black-and-white films. Grandad loved old American detective movies.”

Do you have any illustrators or designers that you consider to be your favourites?

Yes, tons of them! Some of my favourite illustrators are Quentin Blake, Shaun Tan, Rebeca Dautremer, Pilarín Bayés… And I love the comics of Bill Watterson and Picanyol.


Top-Secret Grandad and Me - Illustrating Children's CrimeAbout the Book

Top-Secret Grandad and Me: Death by Tumble Dryer is out now!

Detective Jay Patel has a new top-secret sidekick – his ghost grandad! Can Jay and Grandad solve the first in a series of hilarious and wacky murders? Discover more about the new laugh-out-loud mystery series from the author of Thorfinn the Nicest Viking.

Laura Aviñó is an illustrator who lives in Barcelona, Spain. Discover more of her illustration work on her website.








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