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Thursday 29 November 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Christian Bocquee

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Imaginative visual storytelling

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My growing pile of sketchbooks is an indispensable part of my process. Their uses are too many to list here but, for one, they are a safe place to explore ideas and make mistakes. I record and keep track of ideas in them. What begins as a tiny thread can often grow into a larger project.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Watercolour. It’s the interplay of control and chaos with this medium that I love. In my opinion, my best pieces always have an element of serendipity.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
From the past, Hokusai Katsushika. From the world of children’s books, Errol Le Cain, whose work I only recently discovered and, sadly, who passed away at quite a young age. From the present time, Rogerio Coelho, a Brazilian illustrator who is doing brilliant work.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I would love to go back to the Edo period of Japan, and meet the artist/printmaker Hokusai Katsushika. He took on more subjects than any other artist I know of, and his passion for drawing remained with him into old age.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
In school I wanted to be a traditional hand-drawn Disney animator. But as the industry changed and prospects for this craft seemed to dwindle I looked at other options and stumbled upon children’s books. I came to appreciate this art form in its own right for the breadth of themes and the immense creativity of the illustrators I was discovering. I now feel that this area is a better fit for me than animating could ever have been.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
I’m a little embarrassed, as I’ve seen many amazing ‘dream studios’ out there. Mine is fairly utilitarian, as my living space is only temporary at this point.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
If I had to choose, I would say the initial exploration phase. Later on, the process becomes more about problem solving, and later still it’s all about careful execution and craftsmanship, but in the early stage it’s pure creativity without limits.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?

The first thing I would say is to prepare mentally for a long journey. The skills take a long time to develop. It’s not just about drawing well. There are many other ingredients which go into making a great illustrator, and many of these will be unique to the individual. The second thing I would say is to develop your own ‘artistic voice’. This also will happen gradually over time as you study and absorb influences.
Christian began his artistic career as a hand-drawn animation assistant. After spending time in Japan he returned to Australia and began to focus on illustrating children’s books. To date he has illustrated more than a dozen books for Macmillan, as well as a personal collaboration The Very Cross Bun.
You can follow Christian on facebook and instagram or find out more via his website.