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

Thursday 13 July 2017

Meet the Illustrator: Giuseppe Poli

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Emotion, big and small moments, life, energy, movement, colour

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Being surrounded with colour and having my art materials handy for a quick play. I try to make it really easy for myself to create on the spur of the moment and have my current projects ready for me to quickly continue working on. I also love having space to hang my latest ideas on display so as I walk past them I can keep motivated and thinking about the projects I’m keen to finish. Good lighting is very necessary too.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I love the movement and feel of watercolours and inks. The range of expression that you can get with a brush and watercolour is just delicious.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Only three? Gus Gordon, Benji Davies, Shaun Tan - though there are stacks of other artists out there that inspire me.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
You know, I’m actually super happy with the current period. I love what is happening in pre-production art for films and also what’s happening in children’s picture books. My favourite artistic period in the past would be the Impressionist period, I just love how they capture life and light with colour. I love Van Gogh and Monet.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I’ve been drawing ever since I was young and whilst I’ve made lots drawings that I’ve been proud of, I’ve always wanted my creations to come alive.  About ten years ago I realised that I wanted to create visual stories that could entertain and inspire people. This combination of art and story led me to the children’s picture book world and after a few years I finally got my big break as a published children’s picture book illustrator.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? 
I use a computer a lot for two main reasons - I’m able to explore a range of designs and finishes, and I’m able to separate different layers of my work (eg: line work and colours ) so I don’t have to redo whole images if there are problems. I love my trusty DIY light box that I made using Christmas lights and an Ikea box lid and I love having my colours ready to use. I also have a few Lego, movie, game figures to inspire and remind me that humans created these awesome things, and so with some effort and persistence I could too.

This picture shows behind the scenes of my latest book, Baby Band by Diane Jackson Hill, published by New Frontier.

It’s not an ideal setup but it’s all we can accommodate for now in our small house. Usually when I find myself wishing I had a bigger studio, I realise it’s really just procrastination, because once I start creating it doesn’t matter what my studio is like, I’m focused on the art and I make do with what I have, be it a desk, floor, outside area or even an ironing table.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
It would have to be the beginning stage when you are thinking about the experience of the book. I really enjoy exploring and being challenged.  I seem to be constantly evolving and each story brings imagery to my mind that requires me to stretch and be tenacious.  Fortunately so far I’ve been able to achieve what I was aiming for and seeing results that you are really proud of is such a thrill - makes me more excited to tackle the next project.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Find some friends in this industry that you can learn from and share this journey with by joining SCBWI or something similar group which focuses on the products that you aspire to make.  There is so much to learn and so much information out there.

I would say there are three key things that you will need:

  • find out what applies to you
  • get the right feedback
  • and keep your spirits up to keep practicing and honing your visual storytelling craft.  

Each of us will take our own journey and so much of this journey is emotional and personal. Having great people to help you, support you and provide a professional perspective is crucial if you really want to grow and become the amazing illustrator you can and desire to be. Have fun and keep creating.

Emotion is at the centre of Giuseppe’s work. Giuseppe has illustrated five pictures books, Hootie the Cutie (New Frontier, 2014), Fearless with Dad (New Frontier, 2015 and published in Korea), Oliver’s Grumbles (Yellow Brick Books, 2015) and his latest, Baby Band (New Frontier, 2017). 2018 is going to be a big year.

You can follow Giuseppe on Facebook, Instagram and his website.