#FlorisDesign meets Melanie Mitchell
Sung throughout Scottish homes up and down the country, classic rhymes and traditional tunes make for fun, interactive stoytime sessions. Some of them have been sung for generations, so our Favourite Scottish Rhymes series aims to keep them fresh for youger readers. In our latest post, #FlorisDesign heads over to North Wales to talk to talented children’s book illustrator Melanie Mitchell about our new Favourite Scottish Rhymes book, Three Craws.
Hi Melanie, thanks for talking to us today. Could you tell us about your studies and training?
I studied illustration at the North Wales School of Art and Design. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked as an illustrator on a wide variety of projects, from greetings cards to shop window displays. However, illustrating children’s books is what I love doing most.
We’d love to hear about your decision to become a children’s book illustrator.
I’ve always loved drawing and painting since I was little, and I knew I wanted to pursue a creative job once I left school, and illustration seemed perfect for me. My dream job!
Do you work using traditional methods or digital methods or both?
When I first started out as an illustrator I used watercolour, and then moved on to acrylics. But over the last few years my style has moved on and become digital, I use Photoshop in much the same way that I used paint, but Photoshop has allowed me to become much quicker at producing my illustrations.
What sorts of things do you most enjoy drawing?
I love drawing children; I have a little boy and girl who are great for reference and inspiration. I also love drawing animals and anything that is full of character.
Which favourite nursery rhymes from your own childhood would you most like to see transformed into an illustrated board book?
I always remember my mum singing old nursery rhymes to me, such as See Saw, and Hey Diddle Diddle. I always enjoyed singing the The Wheels on the Bus to my little ones; I think this could make a nice board book with lots of fun characters.
Where did you get your inspiration from for Three Craws?
I’m lucky enough to have a large window by my workspace and had plenty of crows to spy on for inspiration, but I never spotted any baby ones. Crows are quite cheeky and inquisitive birds, and I wanted this to come across in Three Craws.
How challenging was it working on a lift the flaps book?
I found it quite easy once I got my head around how the flaps would work with the illustration, and how the page would work, once the flap was open. I have done flap books before so that helped too.
Do you have any tricks in your bag for when you get stuck on a brief?
My partner is also an illustrator and we share a studio. So when I’m stuck I usually talk things through with him and ask for his opinion. Or just having a break – it usually helps to see something with fresh eyes.
Is working as an illustrator what you expected?
I love being an illustrator, but sometimes deadlines can be challenging.
What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
The best thing about being an illustrator is when you see or hear about a child enjoying a book you’ve illustrated.
Do you have any illustrators or designers that you consider to be your favourites?
I love so many illustrators! Arthur Rackham, Mary Blair, Quentin Blake, Alex Scheffler and Miriam Bos to name a few.
About the Favourite Scottish Rhymes Series
Lift the flaps and slide the moving parts with our fun and sturdy board books inspired by traditional Scottish rhymes – perfect for a new generation of wee bairns to discover for the first time.
In these bright and chunky books of Favourite Scottish Rhymes, inventive moving parts allow young children to sing and act out the much-loved songs. They can sit on their mammy’s knees like Ally, bounce along the waw with the three craws and they really can push granny off the bus – so long as she’s their daddy’s mammy!