A children’s book can be an amazing opportunity to combine the power of words and images in a way that can spark imagination. So, when I first had the idea to make Arturo into a book, it was clear I needed to find someone pretty special to bring his character to life visually. I was lucky enough to chance upon Hannah Sames at the Little Big Markets in Mount Maunganui one day where she was selling another book she had illustrated.
In all, I saw five different artists’ impressions of Arturo and Balou, all very different stylistically and all of them appealing in different ways. But I loved Hannah’s vision of Arturo, and I was so lucky that she wanted to take on my book, in spite of her enormously busy schedule. Not only an illustrator, Hannah is also a freelance graphic designer, a lecturer at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and, at the time she took on Arturo, she was also completing her Master of Design. Here we find out a little bit more about the talented artist, book designer and all-round lovely person behind the images for ‘Arturo and the Glitter Glue’.
What inspired you to get into book illustration?
There’s something magic about illustrating for children’s books – I feel like I turn into a bit of a kid myself when letting my imagination run wild with the little worlds that pens and paints can create. I’ve always loved drawing and when you get to create what your imagination sees and turn it into something that others can enjoy, it’s a pretty special feeling.
How would you describe your illustration style?
I would say it is quite textural, in the way that I enjoy layering a few different mediums such as watercolour paint, pen and pencil. It’s also quite bright – I love using colour, and as you can see with the Arturo book, even an evening setting won’t hold me back from making things colourful and bright in some way!
What medium do you like to use best when illustrating?
Paint has always been my go-to. I love mixing colours and the process of layering to get more depth and interesting shades. Then I will often use coloured pencil or chalky pastels to create some detail and texture. I often finish off with a pen or pencil outline on some parts to give a bit more definition too.
What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to illustrating a book?
The part I find most challenging is making sure certain aspects are consistent all the way through – for example if you re-visit any locations (like the kitchen or lounge), it needs to look exactly the same as it did a few pages back. The same goes for characters like Arturo – such as checking that his bag and scar were on the correct side throughout, or if anything was changed later in the drawing process, that change needed to be made on all other illustrations too. So, it’s the little details that are important to get right before launching into the coloured versions of the illustration, and it’s worth spending the time to get it perfect (or as close to perfect as possible)!
What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating?
I like to go on adventures! Finding local walks or places to explore is the best for a weekend activity. I also enjoy trying new recipes and baking at home as this is a great way to switch off from ‘work-mode’ (and you get to eat something yummy at the end of it) or if I’m needing some down-time I will listen to a podcast
What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Keep drawing! Find subject matter you love drawing and practice whenever you are in a creative mood. Create passion projects for yourself and enjoy the process. Work with other creatives to expand your way of thinking and making. But mostly, keep that love for what you’re doing and making and as long as you love how it looks – that’s all that matters! The passion and care will shine through and others will see that.