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

Thursday 24 March 2016

Meet the Illustrator: Megan Forward

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Fairly natural and lifelike drawings from observation, with everyday details and my favourite things included, and a slightly subdued palette.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
A pencil, cartridge for roughs and playing, good quality paper for the final art, my watercolour travel set, inks, charcoal, and good light.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
The humble pencil I think would be my top item

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Freya Blackwood’s drawing style and clever layout; Harley Jessup’s drawings in Grandma Summer; Beatrix Potter and E.H. Shepard for their drawings, the colours, and the level of detail they manage to capture. (that’s four, but there’s plenty more!)

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I love the lines, the play of light and dark, the etchings and the level of detail in Art Nouveau.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
When I was a child I made quite a lot of picture books most of which I still have, so it must have appealed all along. I love reading, writing and art so it’s the perfect marriage of both.  As an adult taking an illustration elective with Armin Greder at the Queensland College of Art, and then seeing Freya Blackwood’s drawings and illustrations made me yearn for it anew. A movie about Beatrix Potter’s life came out a few years ago called Miss Potter and I could watch that movie over and over. I love the way it portrays the interaction between her and her painted characters. I think I wanted to be just like her!

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often?

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I like researching the topic and taking photos, and notes and drawings and talking to people to get started, I like doing quick gestural drawings of my subjects to get a feel of the motion of the figures, I enjoy planning out the roughs to see how the drama of the story plays out, and I like rendering my final drawings and paintings while listening to audio books. That is probably the most relaxing part of the job.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
I would go along to conferences like CYA in Brisbane, or SCBWI interstate and learn about the issues and people involved in the process. I won some prizes from work I entered into CYA. I think that gave me confidence in my work and the will to persevere. The publisher feedback sessions are an invaluable way to get your work in front of the people that are going to make it happen for you. I got a job from entering my portfolio into the illustrator showcase at the last SCBWI in Sydney. I also got to meet heaps of talented illustrators and writers in the same field and everyone I’ve met has been so lovely and helpful.

Megan Forward is an award-winning Australian illustrator, author, artist and printmaker. She has recently written and illustrated a picture book about sustainable living in an urban environment titled A Patch from Scratch, published by Penguin in March 2016. Visit Megan's website and Facebook page for more information about her books, creative projects and exhibitions.