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

Thursday 4 April 2019

Meet the Illustrator: Jenni Goodman

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. Soft, sweet, semi-realistic, light and happy!

What items are an essential part of your creative space? A mechanical pencil, good quality sharpeners and erasers, and my possibly (actually, definitely) overboard collection of Prismacolor pencils! I enjoy having my computer there so I can zoom in on reference photos and listen to audio books and music. My dog at my feet gives me lovely company through the quiet days, and there is a large window on my right which gives fantastic light.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium? I love to create using coloured pencils. Usually I will use watercolour paints to fill in the background and then add the details with pencils over the top.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Graeme Base, Marcel Marlier and Shirley Barber. All three have absolutely wonderful amounts of detail and precision in their works. I have spent hours upon hours looking at books created by these artists. All three create artworks which capture beauty and bring joy, and when you combine that with their incredible talent you get what I’d call the perfect picture book.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why? The Renaissance. I love and admire lots of dedication, detail and precision. When visiting Europe I was blown away by the artworks in the Vatican and the Accademia Gallery in Florence.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? My great uncle was an arts and crafts teacher. In his older years (at around 80 years of age), my brother and sister and I would visit him once a week for one or two hours and he would give us art lessons. He didn’t have any family of his own, and my mum later told me that he pretty much spent his whole week preparing for those few hours with us. He created countless colouring in sheets for us, caught the bus in to town to have them copied, and hand-bound them with beautiful cloth binding using his own press.

I loved it as a child but, as an adult, I see the incredible amount of time, love and energy he poured into us – what a gift! My time with him helped me to develop my skill but, more than that, to develop a love for creating art.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it. My dad made me the glorious pencil holder you see there! It’s my favourite thing in my work space. I have two computer screens so I can have multiple things up at once, and a gator board on my working area. My husband and I share this long desk between us. My half ends at about the red pencils, so I am definitely using up more than my share of space – oops! You can also see my light box on the left which I find very helpful when transferring sketches onto the final art paper.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process? I love colouring in the final artwork! I find mapping out drafts and creating characters takes a lot of concentration. While I still enjoy that part of the process, there’s nothing I love more than putting on a good audio book or music and watching the colour bring life to the artwork - it’s magic!

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator? Firstly, I’d recommend reading lots and lots of children’s books. When my kids were small our library was in the same complex as their swimming lessons, so we went every week. We borrowed more than 500 books over the few years they were in swimming lessons! Looking at picture books helps you to see what publishers want, different styles, and what makes a great picture book.  I’d also recommend joining and becoming involved in groups such as the CBCA and SCBWI – I found the companionship and encouragement in these groups helped me to turn illustration from a wish into actuality. And, of course, nothing beats hard work and practice.

Jenni is a freelance illustrator who aims to capture simple beauty and timeless characters as she focuses her art on nature, people and animals. Most of Jenni's illustrating hours are spent creating picture books - a dream come true! She also creates pet portraits, medical illustrations and other commissioned artworks. ​
You can follow Jenni on instagram and facebook or find out more via her website.