Suzanne Barton: Tips for Illustrators

Suzanne BartonSuzanne Barton‘s first picture book, The Dawn Chorus is due to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing in April 2014. We caught up with Suzanne, fresh from her visit to Bologna Children’s Book Fair and asked her to pass on her top tips for aspiring illustrators and to highlight some of the illustrators who have influenced her work.

You can meet Suzanne in person on April 8th, when she’ll be decorating the windows of Mostly Books in Abingdon, Oxfordshire as part of Bloomsbury’s ‘Illustrated Windows’ project.


Tips for Illustrators

1. Draw from life and get to know how things are put together. You can make your own version once you know the basic underlying principle. This bit of advice was from Alexis Deacon who told me he had used it for finding rules for ears – they are all slightly different in a very similar way.

The Dawn Chorus cover2. Look at old paintings and prints and all sorts of material not just children’s books. I love Japanese prints for their colour and design.

3. If you are stuck and you usually work in a sketchbook try a really big piece of paper and use lots of different mediums. I found this really liberating and it sometimes throws up interesting things. I was getting a bit precious about the whole sketchbook thing and now I tend to work things out on bigger sheets of paper.

4. Doodling on a bumpy car journey can be a good way into a tricky spread. I did this for The Dawn Chorus and ended up with a tree full of birds that evolved into a spread in the final book.

5. Give yourself time to experiment. The more you challenge yourself the better your work will be.

Three  Illustrators who have influenced my work.

Brian Wildsmith –the vibrant colours and patterns.

Sara Fanelli –  the wonderful textures, patterns and design.

Isabelle Arsenault – beautiful sensitive drawing and colour.

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