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- author Jackie French

Thursday 28 December 2017

Meet the Illustrator: Heidi Cooper Smith

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Whimsical semi-realism, often with an emphasis on humour.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
A mechanical pencil, kneadable and electric erasers, Daniel Smith watercolours, Holbein coloured pencils… and salt.  But I’d still like to keep all the other stuff I’ve accumulated!

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I’ve been hooked on watercolour for a while, but I prefer seeing what other people can do with it.  I tend to use a combination of watercolour and coloured pencil.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Lisbeth Zwerger
David Roberts
Freya Blackwood
(and so many more!)

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
To be honest, 50+ years from now—to try out some new media and gadgets, see what styles of artwork have endured and what new things people have come up with.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
The 52-week illustration challenge, although it was also a forgotten childhood dream.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
Do I have to?  I am MESSY! Messier than you can possibly imagine!  I’ll have to crop it so you can’t tell! Glass desk (so I can use it as a light table if need be) under windows for natural light.  Two tall cupboards flanking the desk – one filled with art supplies, one with kids’ books and craft supplies.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I love arranging the layout, deciding where each element will go. This usually comes after I’ve sketched everything at least once—it’s never done right in the first draft.  I also love that exciting bit right at the end when it all comes together.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Draw every day and don’t feel guilty about doing it. I’m also talking to myself here.
Experiment, and be prepared for it to look terrible. Remember criticism is usually just personal opinion—someone who doesn’t like your work may also be critical of the artists you love.

Six months after joining the 52-week illustration challenge, Heidi was offered her first contract with Koala Books to illustrate ‘Two Birds on a Wire’ (Coral Vass). In 2015 and 2016 she won the CYA illustrated manuscript competition.  ‘Kate and the Thing’ (Wombat Books, March 2018) is her first book as both author and illustrator.
You can follow Heidi on facebook and instagram or visit her website for more information website for more information.