Saturday, August 09, 2014

Juicy pattern

Just because I didn't have quite enough to do, I decided to sign up for Make it In Design Summer school (or Winter school for me!), which is quite simply a series of prompts for creating new designs and patterns– an area where I really want to improve and increase the number of pieces in my portfolio.

The brief for this first round was 'Tropical' - think pink flamingos, palm trees, swaying fronds. Except my mind went straight to fruity cocktails haha! But I decided to make a virgin edition and kept it to juicy fruit. :)

This was all done with hand-carved stamps, except for the lettering which I drew then digitised in Illustrator. Fun!

Monday, July 21, 2014


I recently completed this hand-lettering job for the Teacher Learning Network who offer Professional Development opportunities for teachers (and I also do their design work) The content theme for this journal was 'Gifted and Talented' and the visual theme was 'Words' so a hand-lettered cover seemed perfect. This was a lot of fun and I hope is well received!

Friday, July 18, 2014

SCBWI Australia conference wrap-up

Well it went by in a flash.... a lovely bubble for 3 days... inspirational speakers, meeting like-minded individuals, lovely cooked meals, no cleaning, and no toddler-wrangling! Now that I'm back to reality (with a large thump!), it's time for a conference wrap-up.

It's always so hard to sum these things up... As usual it was half mind-boggling information, half uplifting inspiration. But I think it's more about the feeling you walk away with. I walked away feeling like I belong to a wonderful community. Even though I didn't know many people going this year, I had no trepidation walking into a room full of people (OK, I did at first, but that soon dissipated) and striking up a conversation with any attendee, knowing that we were all in the same boat, speaking a shared language.

Some highlights for me were hearing the Walker Books team take The Croc And The Platypus from conception to completion– a panel equipped with Editor, Author, Art Director, Illustrator, and Marketing Director, and hearing the renowned Bruce Whatley speak of his artistic journey. There is plenty more detail on the SCBWI-Aus/NZ blog so I won't go into it too much here.

Another feeling I got is that the picture book (and wider children's book) market is alive and well. A few years ago the discussion centred around how digital publishing might take away from traditional publishing. Now it feels like the panic has mellowed a bit and everyone is more confident. In fact, this wasn't even a topic for discussion throughout the whole conference! And I even heard a few publishers say they were actively looking for new illustrators, so that is wonderful news.

Another wonderful part of the conference is the Illustrator Portfolio Showcase, which gives participants a chance for local publishers, art directors and editor to view their work - a rare chance to get your illustrations under the noses of important people! This is only the 2nd time they have featured this, but it was very popular with publishers. Viewers are encouraged to leave comments on the folios, and I got a few on mine, leaving me feeling quite jumpy and positive. You can see the folio I submitted here.

All in all, a wonderful experience and one I would love to repeat... tomorrow!

ps. I took not a one photo the whole time, so all photos are courtesy the SCBWI blog

Friday, July 11, 2014

Conference Portfolio

Well I've put the finishing touches on my folio and I'm ready to rock into the SCBWI conference in Sydney on Sunday.
I put a lot of thought into my folio this year, and I thought I'd give you a run-down for anyone who might be trying to do the same and not knowing where to start!

Which illustrations?

Deciding on the pieces you are going to include is naturally the hardest part. The best piece of advice I have heard about this is: Less is More. And: only put in your strongest pieces. Don't fall for putting something in just because it was published once. That doesn't mean it's your strongest work. It's better to omit weaker pieces than to have a bulging folio filled with mediocre work.
I chose to put in about half published work, half personal work. Often personal work is where are joy, love and passion come out the most anyway.  

Keep it flowing

Once you have made your selections, arranging them in a sequence that flows is paramount. Think of it like laying out a book and you should have no problem!

The Book

Next, it's time to put them all together. Your display book should have a professional look about it. These days I think an A3 size is fairly standard. I also feel that a binder system which lets the pages sit flat is really important. Some of them have a bit in the middle that clasps shut which makes it hard for the folio to sit open, and could even potentially damage the prints. I actually made a dash out this morning to buy a new folio to avoid this problem!
Here is mine:

And here's how my folio looks:
(I have made notes on each image as to some things to think about so if you're interested make sure you scroll through!)

To see my folio I'll have to direct you to the original post at my same-same-but-different-blog at 

I hope this gives you some insight into putting together a successful (I hope!) children's book illustrator's portfolio.
I would also suggest looking at these posts from illustrators who have won, yes WON the international SCBWI folio contest:

Have fun!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Conference countdown...

Well it's T-minus 1 week to the SCBWI conference in Sydney. This time next week I'll be settling into my hotel room ready for the conference to start. This conference takes place every two years and is the only major SCBWI conference in Australia. I have never been before so am very excited to attend!
I'm slowly but surely getting all my goodies ready...
I picked up my updated business cards and new promo postcards recently:

I'm very happy with how they turned out. I think they are all tying in nicely together, along with my newly redesigned website too. The giraffe is a bit of a mascot for me (as you may have noticed!) and he has always been on my business card. It just so happens that my latest book features a giraffe as well, so she has made in onto my postcard this time.
So this is the baby and toddler... next is... the Mother..... The Portfolio!
How much can one obsess over an inanimate object? A fair bit it turns out.
I decided to squeeze in a new portfolio piece. Since most of my work is sweet, cute and happy, I wanted to do something a bit more moody with some darker emotions. Here is the sketch:

new portfolio piece!
I have just finished it and did another time-lapse of me painting it (woo!) so if I get a chance to edit it together before I go I will post it soon.
Either way I'll be doing another post about this piece and my conference portfolio soon so stay tuned....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wally the Whale

I missed one Lilla Rogers "Bootcamp" assignment (which I wasn't very excited about anyway) but managed to fit in last month's which was to do some wall art with a nautical theme. I seem to end up doing whales a lot. Whales are good.

I think I'll call him Wally, and he might have to be the first in an animal alphabet series I've always wanted to do...
I went for a stampy effect again, which I coloured in Photoshop, and other stampy and watercoloury background elements. I'm really loving doing this. I also got a copy of Mary Kate McDevitt's Hand-Lettering Ledger and had my first 'real' go at hand-lettering. Really loving this too!
Here are some other recent whales...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Exhibitions on the go....

I've got some prints in a couple of exhibitions coming up...

These four trees are winging their way across the seas to fair Italia, to be part of an exhibition entitled "L'incanto del creato' in Rieti, Italy. I was very touched to be asked to be part of this international exhibition! The exhibition is to mark the 50th anniversary of a temple of St. Francis of Assisi, and the art is in response to the 'Canticle of the Creatures'.

Unfortunately with my current commitments I didn't have time to make new art. But the Canticle talks of seasons, of suns and moons, earth and fire, of sisters and brothers. It's quite beautiful actually, you can read it here. So I thought these pieces I had prepared earlier fit the bill, and work well together:


And then a bit closer to home I am very excited to be part of the 'Lucky 13' exhibition, being held back at the Hill Of Content bookshop in Melbourne. I feel honoured to once again be featured along so many talented contemporary children's book illustrators.

I'll be putting a framed print of the illustration from my latest book up for sale: