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

Thursday 7 February 2019

Meet the Illustrator: Sandy Flett

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. 
Sometimes Satirical
Cartoony and Colourful

What items are an essential part of your creative space? Multiple cups of tea. There must be at least a couple of cups gone cold on my desk, with the teabag still in the cup. Podcasts to listen to. Often, weirdly, True Crime podcasts. Artworks that I’m especially pleased with. And a massive pile of books by some of my favourite children’s authors and illustrators.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium? Graphite would mostly likely be number one. Liquitex ink with nib is very cool as well - I love the lines you can achieve with an old fashioned nib, to create a modern picture. But, I have to say, I’m often on my massive 12.9 inch iPad with my trusty apple pencil, using the Procreate App or Photoshop with the Astropad app with my Macbook Pro.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Gus Gordon
Alex T Smith
Andrew Joyner

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why? Ooh! Thats a hard question! I have to say I do kind of like the POP art movement of the 1950s . Those cool stunning crazy colourful artworks using objects from mass media and everyday life were fantastic.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? When I was about 6 or 7, I was very lucky to be able to go to children’s art classes run by a local artist. That teacher (Mrs Fredericks - you rocked) made me realise that I truly loved art and creating and maybe had a little bit of talent. That, combined with VERY regular trips to the local library, where I borrowed books with what I thought were the most interesting pictures. Where the Wild Things Are and The Diggingest Dog were favourites!

When I was about 10, my primary school organised an author library visit. And OH. WOW. As this lady read her hilarious book about a naughty dog, I laughed myself silly, partly because the book was funny, but also I think that I was on a bit of a high, listening to her read a book that she created herself. I fell in love with the concept of being able to create a book and the seed was sown that I could maybe, one day, illustrate a book.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it. With my husband, kids and Domino the border collie, I recently moved from the city to a country town, where I have been able to have my very own art studio, instead of using the whole of our dining table like used to! The studio window looks out over the valley in the New England region. So spoilt!! It’s often messy. Mess makes my creative juices get churning. There are usually 1-2 empty cups of tea on my desk (of course), a few used tissues, ink stains and miscellaneous cords and attachments to my multiple Apple devices.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process? That moment when I believe I have come up with a profoundly hilarious idea for a drawing. That said, my live-in art critics (the kids ) are always pretty forthcoming on their opinions if they feel my art is not actually all that funny.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator? Just give it a go !! So many authors and illustrators I’ve met have started from 'nowhere'. Publishers are often looking for something fresh and new, so don’t be too concerned if you think your style is unusual. It may be exactly what a publisher is looking for. Read lots and lots and LOTS of children's books . Go to the library and borrow them (just make sure there are some left for the children to borrow - I’ve been known to leave a library with 20 plus children’s books in my library bags!). Analyse them and work out what you feel works well.

Go in illustration competitions. Even if you don’t win, don’t spit the dummy or lose hope. You will get valuable feedback that will only help your work get better. Don't be worried about putting yourself out there and talking with other authors and illustrators. I’ve found the Kid Lit world is a beautiful place full of very lovely creatives who are generous in giving advice and answering questions. Join your local Kid Lit group. Being a member of SCBWI Qld gave me the confidence that I needed to keep pursuing my illustration dream. Go to Kid Lit conferences! CYA conference in Brisbane gave my career a huge kick start.

Be resilient - something us creatives are not always very good at! Pick yourself up and dust yourself off if you feel hurt by some criticism of your work. Draw and draw and paint and paint, read and read and read. Oh - and listen to podcasts.

Sandy Flett is an illustrator from New England, NSW, who creates her hilariously kooky characters, pictures, cartoons and stories while listening to sheep baa and cows moo very loudly outside her studio window. She is the illustrator of Juno Jones - Word Ninja and the creator of her very own YouTube Channel - Sandy Flett’s Kids Art School.
Follow Sandy on instagram and facebook or check out her website for more information.