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Thursday 1 June 2017

Meet the Illustrator: Laura Stitzel

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Curious creatures from an imagined bygone era.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Books for reference - children’s books, books of posters, advertising, gallery catalogues and a few collections from artists. My most thumbed through book is All-American Ads 1900-1919

My drawing and painting tools - Fineliners, watercolours, various thicknesses of paper, tracing paper, pencils, mechanical pencil and an eraser stick.

Photoshop - my illustrations are never entirely digital, but I use Photoshop to put line and colour together, and make adjustments to colour and texture.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Definitely fine liner. I use a variety of thicknesses and colours, but any fine liner is good. I love the way you can go from tight and controlled to loose and scratchy, like going from an old lithograph to Quentin Blake.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Norman Rockwell - the way he could tell a story in a single image.
Edward Gorey - his techniques with ink, as well as his odd sense of humour.
Mabel Lucie Atwell - a great female illustrator whose work evolved to drawing baby-doll type figures that recall Rose O’Neill’s Kewpies. Her work is quaint, nostalgic and uses colour beautifully.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
1910-1929. I love art nouveau, and posters and advertising from that period are a huge influence on my work.  I use them as reference for colour, layout and ornamentation. It was such an exciting and dramatic time, with great minds shaping the way we think, work and make art today. There’s Freud, Picasso, Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Einstein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Disney.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
The push to develop my own body of illustration work came about during a very boring weekend. I had been working as an animator for a couple of years, was travelling across Canada by train. I had a few days stopover in Winnipeg.

There was nothing open except one Starbucks, and the art gallery which had a Norman Rockwell exhibition. I had always liked his work but seeing it all together and learning about his life just blew me away. He worked constantly, every day, even Christmas. His work taught me not to shy away from many things that I had been wary of - such as symmetrical compositions, heavy use of references and cutesy storytelling. I had been holding back the cuteness, thinking it would not be well received, but was inspired to let all that cuteness and innocence come out and see the light of day. If that’s what I have to offer, so be it!

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? 
Here is my desk in a studio I share with other creatives.  The left is my ‘analogue’ side.  I have a drawing board where I do all my drawing in pencil, ink and watercolour. There’s plenty of pens and brushes in the middle. On the right is the ‘digital’ side, with my computer for doing animation and using Photoshop. I also have plenty of books on hand for reference, and some of my favourite images pinned up to help me to daydream more effectively.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I love inking my work, especially when it is detailed. I also love adjusting colours, I’m a bit of a colour theory nerd and I really get a magic feeling from getting the colours looking just right.  I am about to start the colouring stage on my first book, and I can’t wait.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Of course it is really important to keep drawing, improving your technique and developing your own style. I find it really helpful to be part of a larger project or challenge - such as the 52-week Illustration Challenge or The Sketchbook Project. They help to keep you motivated, and give you some exposure, feedback and encouragement.

If you can’t find one that suits, make your own challenge! I am doing this myself this year, each month I’m drawing an Australian endangered species in a series I call ‘Aussie Battlers’. I hope to raise awareness for these creatures, its an issue which is important to me which helps to keep me motivated to create good work.

Laura Stitzel is an illustrator and animator, working across Australia and Canada since 2008. She creates illustrations which embrace hand-drawing techniques. She has also been part of the creative team on many children’s television programs including Arthur, Peg + Cat, and Disney Junior Dreams. Laura is currently working on her first children’s book for publication in 2018. You can see more of Laura's work on her website ~ www.lauradraws.com