A Q and A with illustrator, Katy Halford, plus a UNICORNS Picture Book COVER REVEAL! -See it here first! :)

Welcome, Katy, to the Picture Book Den and thank you for answering my questions today!

We love hearing about people’s paths into publishing. Please could you tell us a bit about your journey?

My journey into publishing first started a few years ago when I was taking an online children's book course, 'Make Art That Sells Illustrating Children's Books'. It was a course I had longed to do and I am so glad I did. Whilst on the course I signed up with my agents, Plum Pudding. That year I illustrated my very first picture book 'Moz the Monster' with Nosy Crow to accompany the John Lewis Christmas advert. It really was a dream come true!

2) You have illustrated picture books, some older fiction and also non-fiction books. Do you have a preferred type of book that you like to work on?

I love them all for different reasons. Picture books are always great fun to work on and I love that I can add lots of little details for the children to spot. They do take several months to work on as they are a much longer process. Older fiction is a refreshing break from working in colour, and is a much quicker process to get to final artwork for me so these are great to work on in between. Non- fiction is always great too as you get to learn some interesting facts as you draw!

3) When you choose to take on a project, what is it about a text that makes you want to illustrate it?

I think I've been really lucky with the texts I've been able to illustrate. I think the text has to excite you, it makes your job of drawing the pictures so much easier if you enjoy what you are drawing. I love a text with fun and humor, oh and of course also a bit of magic!

4) Having worked with you on a couple of books now, you seem to work very quickly and efficiently! I’m amazed at the speed at which you are able to produce your pencil roughs (which don’t seem very rough to me at all but are full of amazing details!!) Please could you tell us a bit about your initial process when you start a picture book?

Haha thank you. I really don't feel like I am working quickly!

Character sketches of Rapunzel's Mum from 'Rapunzel to the Rescue' by Lucy Rowland and Katy Halford.

The picture book process usually starts with the main characters. This is one of my favorite parts of the process as people are the best things to draw. I spend a lot of my time (well before lock-down) in coffee shops at the start of a project. I love people watching and often I think some of them inspire the characters that feature in my books. Also it helps having two young nieces that are the perfect ages for picture books, so watching them helps to inspire me too. I love playing around with hairstyles and clothing on characters, it's such much fun. So lots of sketching later I have drawn up some characters. These are sent over to the design team for comments and we go from there.

After the characters are worked out, I start to draw up thumbnail roughs of the page spreads in my sketchbook. This helps me to plan out the page and where the text will sit within the illustration. I often scribble lots of notes around these as my thumbnails are always very rough and tiny! For me I need this process before I draw up the roughs. I know some illustrators prefer to just go straight to the rough process. The thumbnails go back and forth to the publisher design team till we are happy to start drawing up the roughs. I usually draw the roughs on my iPad in Procreate, this way I can easily move things around if they aren't quite in the correct place or shrink them down if the text needs more breathing space etc. I really enjoy this part of the process and I always find it really helps me out at the colour stage if these are drawn up fairly neat with the details added in.

Seeing the characters and environments I imagine in my mind progress from rough sketches to coloured art, is such an exciting process. Especially the first time you see the book in print.

Rapunzel to the Rescue is out in August and is published by Scholastic

5) What does your typical working day look like?

My working day varies, I'm not always a morning person so I like to spend time in the garden in the morning if I can (new lock-down hobby), depends if deadlines are looming! I can be at my desk from 9am in the morning and the rest of the day if I have deadlines and other days I might not start work till after lunch. But saying that if I do that, I will work all afternoon and right into the late evening. I often find I am much more productive in the afternoons and evenings, I'm not really sure why it's just when I feel most at flow. I guess that's the beauty of working from home. You can choose to work the times that you are at your most productive. Other than that, as I mentioned before, I often sit in coffee shops at the start of a project, this makes a nice change of scenery from siting at the desk!

6) We love hearing about people’s work spaces at Picture Book Den. Where do you work? What does your work space look like?

Katy's (beautifully tidy!) work space.

I work from home, in my studio. It's a lovely bright room especially when the sun is shining. My desk set up is my cintiq and computer and I love to surround my space with inspiration. I have a huge collection of children's books, a collection of bits and bobs that I have collected over the years. This mainly consists of just things that I like and all things quirky. I always have artwork on the walls, some are my own of projects i'm working on and others are prints from illustrators I like.

7) What is your top tip for budding illustrators who want to break into the publishing industry?

Draw everyday or as much as you can, and enjoy it. Be yourself, draw how you draw, don't try to be anyone else. Try not to compare yourself to others, everyone is on a different journey. I know this is hard to do at times but really it's true, don't do it! Persevere and take any critique with open arms. It's there to help you, we are always learning. I for one love learning and developing!

8) Who, in the world of picture books, are some of your biggest influencers/inspirations?

Wow there's so many, this is tricky. I think everyone has some kind of influence and inspiration to me. This can be old or new world. We are so open to seeing so much with social media today it's hard not to see people's work. I think people like Quentin Blake, Janet Ahlberg and Raymond Briggs are some of my main inspirations because they brought so much joy to my childhood. Raymond Briggs more so now because I just find him and his work so fascinating.

And now for the all important PICTURE BOOK COVER REVEAL....

As well as doing a question and answer post today, Katy and I wanted to use this blog to reveal a cover that we are both very excited about!!!!

'THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS UNICORNS' is the first in our upcoming picture book series with Scholastic and will be published this coming January.  Katy and I are thrilled to be able to reveal the cover here today.  We hope that you enjoy it and that it brings some sparkly rainbow magic to your Monday!

Thank you for reading.

Post a Comment

* Please Don't Spam Here. All the Comments are Reviewed by Admin.