Tuesday, 14 November 2017

An interview with the lovely Sharon Davey

Presenting one of our wonderful new illustrators Sharon Davey! Below she has been kind enough to answer a few questions for us. From her likes and dislikes to her tip top tips for aspiring illustrators!

Read away!

Where do you live/work?

I live and work in sunny Surrey but I’m originally from Stockport, Greater Manchester and we defiantly harbor a northern spirit in the house. Everyone who enters is fed and no one ever wears a coat.

My desk at home is facing a wall full of pictures, so the squirrels fighting with the overfed pigeons in the back garden don’t distract me.

What do you love about working there?

I used to work from the kitchen table and need to tidy up everyday at 3pm so having my own space is phenomenal. I like noise when I work so I love being in the middle of our family space. If I’m home alone working I have to have music on or I end up talking to our cat, Eliza Doodle Davey.

What are your dislikes? 

I really don’t like it when toddlers lick a runny nose, yuk! But apart from that I pretty much like everything about my life. I’d really like to find a recipe for flapjacks where I don’t just burn a pan of oats.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

I am so in love with my job - it’s the best. It’s my dream job and it allows me to be 100% myself. I love the ideas stage; choosing, creating, and goofing around with more absurd ideas. Listening to writers, art directors and now agents about their thoughts of what I’ve drawn is great fun. They always see something I’ve missed and it’s the feedback I require to be part of the illustration world rather than just drawing for myself.

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I’ve developed my work over the past year to streamline the process. So, it goes a little something like this, I usually sketch a page or two of character drawings, sometimes using reference but mainly right out of my head. Generally I forget to use my sketchbook and prefer printer paper so I can scan the images, but I try to go back and tape them into my sketchbook in the right order. Then I draw and scan, draw and scan for what seems like days; characters, locations, textures, individual plants, random shapes. Then I rearrange in Photoshop, either recolouring lines and going to final artwork or if my line widths are too various I print off this mash of drawings, light box and redraw everything at a similar line width and start again. I colour digitally and like to keep my original line work as lively and interesting as possible.


What is your favourite thing to draw? 

Grumpy looking animals. I like to draw things with attitude problems and distrusting looks- they make me laugh. I’m much more at ease drawing humor and will sit like a fool with a big smile on my face laughing at my own jokes.



Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator? 

That cold clutch of your heart you feel when a deadline is approaching and talking yourself round from freezing and putting it off into a “RIGHT! Let’s do this attitude.” Also letting go of a really nice layout or character that you have fallen in love with because no one else likes it. That’s pretty tricky.

What or who are you inspired by? 

I buy picture books very often, my shelves would say too often. I love Quentin Blake and would absolutely have a fan girl moment if I was ever in the same room. I adore Isabelle Arsenault, Kenard Pak, Chris Chatterton, Fred Blunt, Chris Riddell, Leigh Hodgkinson and did you see the new book from Richard Jones, The Snow Lion? Oh my! I cried in the bookshop.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 

If I’m not at my desk or in a bookshop I like to visit cake shops with my family or friends. I feel like I’m working on a study of all the almond croissants in the area. Although I’ll have to start all over again with mince pies soon, shucks! I like art galleries, the theatre, singing show tunes on long car rides and embarrassing my children by going over the top at least three times a day.

How did you get into illustration? 

When asked as a child about possible future professions I always said I wanted to be a draw-er or a crisp taster. At age 9 I was convinced Hollywood would come knocking for me to draw on the next Disney movie and by age 12, after waiting by the phone for three years, I decided theatre was a safer bet. I trained as a theatre set and costume designer at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and spent 15 years making theatre, props, masks, puppets, anything and everything. I was pretty late in the game when I realized I loved theatre so much because I was storytelling and I should be spending my time doing that instead of sewing feathers on to ugly duckling costumes. I started drawing again with the idea to entertain my family and really got into it. I exhibited some of my work and got a lot of great feedback. I moved more into children’s illustration and met SCBWI people at a short course on book illustration. After that I knew I was home. At such a young age I knew what I wanted to be, I should have listened to her. I could have been a crisp taster by now.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators? 

Put in the hard work and get better at drawing hands.
Be on the look out to learn more, short course, lectures, and new people.
Stick to deadlines and be business-like about business.

What’s your ultimate dream?

1.To get better at drawing hands.

2. To be asked to be on Strictly Come Dancing ,but have to turn it down because I have too much work on.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Moz The Monster!

Some very exciting news here at Plum Pudding! Our very own Katy Halford has illustrated the Christmas book to accompany the John Lewis Christmas advert!

Some fabulously exciting news!

Take a look at the video below - it is fantastic and very fitting with John Lewis' heart warming Christmas adverts. 



Well done Katy you fabulous Plum!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Some Plums have been nominated for the Kate Greenaway awards!

We would like to  say a massive and huge congratulations to Jonny Lambert and Kate Pankhurst for both being nominated for The Clip Greenaway medal! Jonny Lambert for his "Tiger Tiger" and "The Only Lonely Panda" and Kate for "Fantastically Great Woman Who Changed The World".

The Kate Greenaway Awards are the most prestigious awards to win in children's book illustration. Named after the famous children's illustrator, it is the oldest children's book award and is special in that the winners are solely picked by children's librarians. 

Past illustration winners include some of the greats such as Quentin Blake, Lauren Child and Janet Ahlberg. 

We are keeping our fingers and toes crossed for Jonny and Kate you super talented beans! 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Well done Kate Pankhurst!

A fabulous article has been written in BookBrunch about Kate Pankhurst's TWO new book titles to follow on from "Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World". Such exciting news! Below is the article itself and the brand spankin new cover!

Well done Kate and well done Hannah!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Alison Brown and the Book People Bedtime Story Competition

Our wonderful illustrator Alison Brown has teamed up with Little Tiger Press for the wonderful Bedtime Story competition brought to us by The Book People.

A competition that gives children the opportunity to write their own children's bedtime story and book to be illustrated by Alison Brown and published by Little Tiger Press. 

The winner has been announced and below is a little link to who the lucky guy is as well as the runners up!


Here is what Alison has to say about the day!

We spent the afternoon with the 3 finalists and a huge quantity of chocolate, and Claudia popped in to announce the winner. As you can see, he was a bit excited...
The 3 finalists’ stories were all brilliant, but Frasier’s winning one is really special and I can’t wait to get going on illustrating it.

We can't wait to see the outcome after Alison has worked her magic! Well done Fraser! 

Friday, 20 October 2017

5 minutes with new illustrator Jana Heidersdorf!

Today we hear a little from our wonderful new artist Jana Heidersdorf as she gives us a sneak peak into her wonderful world of illustration. From what inspires her to her favourite things to draw! A very interesting interview indeed!

Where do you live/work?

I’m currently living in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. While the city itself is not particularly inspiring, my flat is a perfect safe harbor to create in and snuggle up with my three rats.

What do you love about working there?

I’m a naturally inclined hermit, so having a comfortable place to work and relax in with convenient access to everything I need to keep myself alive is necessary for me. I can reach the forest in 30 minutes on foot, the post office in 10 and even the customs office is only a few train stops away (I never thought that would be important to me, but here I am.)

What are your dislikes?

All my artist friends live somewhere else, so I need to travel a bit to see them. My current solution is to combine visits with my vacations. Next year a trip to London is on my schedule to re-connect with some folks from art school. 

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

Well, it’s a bit like doing magic, isn’t it? Of course you have to study hard to master the spells, but it doesn’t change feeling of creating something from nothing. When starting with an idea I never know exactly how the artwork will turn out, even as I plan all my preliminary work. There’s always an element of surprise to the process and a very childlike part of me is simply excited about seeing the finished piece appear!

How do you work — what are your techniques?

I work in a blend of traditional and digital media. For the majority of my process I draw and paint and everything in between, using pencils, acrylic paint and charcoal. Getting my hands dirty and messing around with textures is something I can’t go without. This is the part where I need to let go of my inner perfectionist and go wild. Once the artwork is scanned and on the screen in front of me I put on my critical-editor-hat to push pixels and add colours until I’m satisfied with the result. 

What is your favorite thing to draw?

They are tricky, but I really enjoy drawing hands! When I was younger I used to avoid  them at all costs until I did the right thing and started to study them. Nowadays they are still always a little bit of a challenge, however it is extremely satisfying to see once they’re finally on paper.

Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?

Are there any that are not tricky, at least to an extend? When I first realized I wanted to become an illustrator, I was not especially worried about being good, since I knew I just had to practice to develop my skills and I knew that was something within my control. What did worry me was me being an incredibly introverted, shy person with a dash of social anxiety. My environment constantly gave me the feeling all skill didn’t matter as long as I wouldn’t be able promote myself and I wouldn’t be as long as I was, well, me basically. As it turns out putting artwork online and having an easy to find e-mail address is something even I can do and having strong artwork is really the important part. Still, sometimes I can’t help wondering whether my skills might be wasted on my personality. (I guess there is a reason I’m with an agency now?!)

What or who are you inspired by?

Books, movies, music! Forest walks! You can blame Neil Gaiman, Del Toro and their colleagues for my work.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

Oh, I’m very boring. I mostly read, watch tv or go on walks. Lately I have started to try and find myself more hobbies because I’ve heard it’s good to lead a balanced life. For now that means I’ve started to get back into writing, so at least me fingers get a work out. 

How did you get into illustration?

Besides fawning over Brian Froud’s and Alan Lee’s Faeries and Chris Riddell’s Edge World illustrations I grew up reading French fantasy and scifi comics and fell in love with the the medium, especially the beautiful artworks. Once in grammar school my friends were more into manga, so I dove into those, too. With fourteen I thought it would be a good idea to become a comic artist and is I started practicing to draw in earnest (or what I thought that meant at the time). That’s not exactly what I’m doing now, but close enough.

What are your three tips for aspiring illustrators?

What a strange question. Most of the time I still feel like one myself. I’m only in my second year after graduating art school and third year of freelancing.

So here it goes! Take deadlines seriously, even at art school. Take as long as you need to create awesome work for yourself, but if there’s a deadline then make sure you make it. If you somehow never do, try to find out why. Are your projects too ambitious? Are your time management skills non existent? Do you need to see somebody about your mental health (Not pulling all-nighters before a deadline and making sure you catch enough sleep helps with that, too! So don’t underestimate the art of time management …)?  

The internet is a wondrous thing and you don’t need to live where all the cool kids are to get illustration work. Having an affordable place where you can hone your craft has its advantages to being able to schmooze at parties but worrying every month about making rent. You can always move at a later point in your career. 
Last but not least some practical advice for getting work. Put your e-mail address on your website or blog where people can find it. This is very important. Nobody can hire you when they can’t reach you. Also, have a portfolio website if possible. 

What’s your ultimate dream?

In my last months at art school we were assigned to write a bucket list. Mine included items such as having a book published, working on a movie, having a gallery show and so on. Yet imagining holding a book with my name on it in my hands isn’t what gets me out of bed and to my desk everyday. It took me a while to understand that. Nowadays when I imagine my endgame I see long lasting collaborative relationships with creatives in all different creative fields, people I am always excited to work with and with whom I am creating worlds with. I want to be able to look back and see where my artistic voice was able to weave through all the different realms of pop culture that made me an artist in the first place. 
At times that seems awfully ambitious and even arrogant to me. Then again life can be quite long in this day and age and what a disappointment it would be to actually reach my goals and have nothing left to strive for. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Rebecca Gerlings and the Big Draw Epsom!

Last week, our very own Rebecca Gerlings took part in her towns Big Draw! 

Big Draw is a festival held every year in over 28 different countries, bringing together many different types of creatives with children of all ages with schools, libraries, galleries, museums and other such spaces.

The idea is that anyone can draw given the chance and can bring excitement into all aspects of life!

Here is a little account of the day by Rebecca and some pictures to accompany:

"We had an AMAZING two days! Over 30 local volunteers - including myself - pooled their enthusiasm, creativity and vision to pull off Epsom's first ever The Big Draw. The reactions from the nine local schools who attended on the Friday, and from the general public on the Saturday, by far exceeded all our hopes and expectations. We hit Epsom with a storm of chalk dust; spiralling drawings out of control; animating people lives; and bringing out the inner author and illustrator from child and adult alike. Epsom Library had over 800 people through the doors on Saturday, which is a true reflection of how many people joined in. We've had such positive feedback that we hope this is now set to become an annual local event. I can't wait to do it all again next year!"

If you would like to find out more, please visit: