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

Thursday 3 May 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Wayne Harris

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
I aim to expand the text, to satisfy and surprise.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Music and silence, isolation and distraction.  And a couple of mischievous kittens.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I love the mediums that allow me to change my mind, because every illustration is a puzzle and a discovery.  Digital art and acrylics allow this.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.  
Illustrators: Maurice Sendak, for his understanding of childhood; Chris van Allsburg, for his sense of place; and Helen Oxenbury for her humanity.
Fine artists:  Vincent Van Gogh, for his energy; Claude Monet, for his passing light; and David Hockney, for his curiosity.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
The explosion of Impressionism to Cubism in early twentieth century France - a period of art (revolutionary) when painting was finding a new way of looking at the world after photography had usurped realism.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I worked in bookshops for almost ten years and, during that time, I discovered Maurice Sendak, whose connection to the inner life of the child was profound, whose sense of the page in a book was original, energetic and enduringly memorable.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often?  Talk us through it.
This is my studio at its smartest.  Those rare moments when it is organised and ready to visit. Most of the time it is chaotic, but I am so focused on the illustration that I don't notice.  The light and the landscape is always stunning.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Exploring the text and the layout of the book is my favourite.  I am like Dr Frankenstein, who hopes upon hope that this conglomeration of parts might - with magic (and electricity) come to life - and develop a voice of its own.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Listen to the text.  Understand why the author has chosen that moment and use this as a starting point for visual harmony and counterpoint.  If you illustrate only what the words evoke, then you are not pushing hard enough.  Your visual imagination is your greatest asset - so use it!

Wayne Harris is an award-winning illustrator and designer.  He won the APA Best Designed Picture Book of the Year Award for 'A Bit of Company' by Margaret Wild, for 'Gordon's Got a Snookie' by Lisa Shanahan and as the designer for 'The Two Bullies' by Junko Morimoto.  He was short-listed in the 1995 NSW Premier's Award for writing 'Judy and the Volcano'.  The same year 'Going Home' was named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book.  Wayne has worked as a designer and Art Director for Walker Books Australia for the past decade.  He has most recently illustrated 'Bird to Bird', written by Claire Saxby.  

Images from 'Bird to Bird' by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Wayne Harris
Illustrations © 2018 Wayne Harris 
Reproduced by permission of Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd