'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 19 March 2010

Interview: Illustrator Moira Court

I have a new illustrative crush. So happy to introduce you to the glorious Moira Court who is just so talented, it makes my eyes water. She's also just absolutely lovely lovely. Enjoy this fun interview with Moira.

Who is this talented person? Moira Court

What does she do? She illustrates. Sometimes she illustrates kids’ books.

Where can you drool over her stuff? moiracourt.wordpress.com

What’s her story? I grew up in South Devon, England. I emigrated to West Australia in 2001 and now live in an old logging town in the Perth Hills. I have been a practicing artist for several years and as well as illustrating children's books, I also exhibit artwork in local galleries and art shows.

At the moment, I am being a full-time artist but when that becomes full-time starving artist, I have been known to work part-time in a fancy paper shop designing invitations, and in an antiques and collectables shop making displays, collecting dust and spotting mice.

When I'm not painting, drawing or making felt creatures, I try to grow vegetables and enjoy walks in the bush with my husband and two dogs. I also really like watching the wild birds out of the kitchen window. I don't have any actual children but I do have several fur and feather kids!

How long has she been drawing? For as long as I could hold a pencil, or crayon.

What mediums does she work in? I mainly paint in acrylic, on canvas or canvas board, but my latest love is drawing with a 2B pencil on printing paper. I have also started doing a few pieces in mixed media - gouache, pencil and pastel. I make felt creatures, too, using WA Melanian wool, Australian Merino wool, recycled buttons and lots of yummy coloured cottons.

What style would she call her work? Naive and quirky, perhaps?

Where has her work been published? In Australia.

How did she come to illustrate Elaine Forrestal’s beautiful Miss Llewellyn-Jones books? To illustrate a children's book is something I have always wanted to do, and it took me ages and ages to pluck up the courage to send some examples of my work to Fremantle Press.

When I eventually did, I was so shocked that they liked it and wanted to meet me. Soon after the initial interview, I was asked to come up with a story board for Miss Llewellyn-Jones. Due to the success of that book, the manuscript of Miss Llewellyn - Jones Goes To Town, shortly followed.

Why does she illustrate? Hmmm… it’s not for the money that’s for sure! I enjoy having a story to work to and I like expanding that story, creating the scenery and bringing the characters to life. It's also very satisfying seeing your work as an actual book and even more satisfying and a bit weird when you go in to a book shop and see it on the shelf!

What are the greatest obstacles she has experienced on her creative journey? Time and money - a lack of both.

What does she love most about her work? Coming up with the initial idea that you just know is going to work and be fabulous is probably the most exciting part. And then the next thing is trying to include animals in the story, as that’s what I like painting best!

What advice does she have on illustrating for a living? Be prepared to work VERY hard, try and be different, practise lots and read, read, read!

Does she remember the first piece she ever felt really proud of? A chalk pavement drawing of a dinosaur in the Ivybridge (Devon UK) village carnival. I came second! ( I was about seven or eight.) And then there was the baboon drawing in my science class when I was 11.

Have children’s books always been of interest to her? Yes, always. For one - I like looking at the pictures in illustrated books and two - I like magical lands and magical creatures that talk. I suppose I should've grown out of that by now, but I like it just the same as when I was small, even though now I am big!

Would she consider writing as well as illustrating? Hmmm, maybe. I would just like to think of something really original to write about, which is tricky.

Other than painting, what does she love? My pets, nature, pottering around in the vegetable patch trying to grow food, movies and fossicking in bric-a-brac shops - I love recycling! And cake.

What are her top five children’s books of all time? You mean eight, right? Even that’s tricky and I know I will forget a really important one…

The Harry Potter series - I am counting this as one!
The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher
The Tale of Mr Todd
Winnie the Pooh
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Peter Pan
Tom's Midnight Garden

All full of magical lands and/or creatures that talk!

If she couldn’t be an artist, what would she be? I would like to do something to do with wildlife, or be an interiors stylist for a magazine, or a film set designer, or if I had a few more brain cells - a vet.

What career was she drawn to as a child? I probably wanted to be a horse! I didn't know what career I wanted until I was in my early twenties, when I decided that being a decorative painter was the way to go after meeting someone who painted a mural in Ozzy Osbourne’s house.

What would comprise her perfect day? Well, it would be longer than 24hours and would involve teleporting between different countries! I would love to catch up with my friends and family in the UK who I haven't seen for a while now. I would hope that this would involve lots of cake.

I would love to have a pub lunch in an old, low beamed, cozy smugglers pub in Cornwall in mid-winter, with the fire blazing and snow falling outside. Then I would have dinner in a beachside restaurant in Thailand, where it would be warm but windy with the waves crashing and the palm trees blowing and someone would release those amazing baloony looking lanterns in to the night sky.

I would end up in my own bed, as there is nowhere like your own bed. Somewhere amongst all this I would do some horse riding and go to the North Pole to see reindeers, polar bears and the Northern Lights. And it would be Christmas. And I would take my husband as he is the funniest person I know.

What five words best sum her up? Creative, fun, energetic, impatient, disciplined.

What’s next for Moira? An exhibition in April (beginningwithart.wordpress.com). Perhaps another book... many more felt animals and lots of drawings.

Check out Moira’s blog for more of her lovely, arty bits.