Serena Geddes, illustrator of the Lulu Bell series, has gone about her creative business in many different spaces, from Disney Animation offices to purpose-built studios in Sydney and Melbourne. She recently shared with us her most recent creative space, as well as a little about what helps channel her creative juices.
What is the one thing you need to help you settle into creative mode?
An Irish hot chocolate.... well maybe not, though I think it would help from time to time :)
I tend to find a cosy cafe to sit when I'm reading a manuscript. It's the most settling and inspiring place for me. I draw from the surroundings and the people who don't know I am observing them.
What is the one thing that obstructs all your efforts to get started?
I won’t lie. There are often times where the resistance to put pen to paper is like two magnets repelling each other. The resistance is so strong that the anxious voice in my head reminding me that I've six days left to get this done weighs heavy on my mind.
I've learnt that trying to push through this will only create unpleasant work; everything from the stiffness of my characters to the harshness of my pencil strokes. It is evident that its time to walk away. For some time I felt guilty for 'procrastinating' for three to five days while nutting out a project but have recently seen this more as a necessity and very much a part of the process. I now explain to the procrastinator naysayers that cleaning the house or wondering around Melbourne is me piecing all my research and preparations together.
Do you have any favourite tools?
Good ol’ pencil (2B) and any kind of paper. I've worked on a brown paper bag before and illustrated over an old book. I'm playing more with gouache and watercolour and found a water brush from an art shop that means I can create anywhere.
Music? Yes or no?
Oooohhh. Sometimes, yes. I found listening to Mozart Requiem makes me work faster with passion, (good for late deadlines, ahem). If I am wanting to paint for myself, Hans Zimmer and Ludovic Eindaudi take my mind away to a place where I'll paint what ever flows. It's quite beautiful and freeing actually.
Generally, background music would be lazy afternoon acoustic tracks. As I’m working from home at the moment, listening to Ted Talks or inspirational speakers makes me feel like there's conversation happening around me.
How long is a creative 'session' for you?
It varies, if I am in flow, several hours over a few days.
How do you manage interruptions?
If I am in the flow of work I will turn my phone and my life off. I'll shut down to the world (which isn't good) but it helps me to stay focused when I'm on a deadline. I do wish they called it something else like 'wrap-up time'. We do almost kill ourselves trying to meet 'deadlines' and we sometimes forget why we are doing what we love. Speaking of which, I have a 'wrapup time' due today!
Learn more about Serena's work and books at her website.