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

Thursday 2 May 2019

Meet the Illustrator: Muza Ulasowski

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. Realistic, colourful, detailed, whimsical...

What items are an essential part of your creative space? My Wacom Cintiq 27HD plus stylus and Artrage 5 programme (for my digital illustrations). Lots of light, my acrylic paints and my pencils (for my traditional artwork).

Do you have a favourite artistic medium? Digital art for my children’s book illustrations; acrylics for landscape/animal portraits. I'm currently playing around with pencils.

Name three artists whose work inspires you. Oh my goodness, I have so many artists who inspire me!! Carla Grace, Graeme Base, Ken Donaldson, Lesley McGee, Ann-Maree Zanetti, Mariel Desbiens, Bronwyn Searle, Ben Quilty, Janet Knight, Lix North, Sandra Temple, Pat Hall, Helen Cottle, Fiona Groom, Wendy Layne, Scott Christensen, Kevin Rogers, Mark Waller, Liz Anelli, John Rice, Anne Spudvilas, Sandra Severgnini... the list goes on forever!! They are all amazing in their chosen fields. I would love to be half as good as any one of them.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why? Ooh! That’s an interesting one. Every artistic period has something of interest for me. But I would loooove to visit the Renaissance period. I just love the realism, amazing detail and lighting of that period. And, of course, I would love to find out whether the Mona Lisa really didn’t have any eyebrows. How did Leonardo da Vinci work out the symmetry in his paintings and why? And Michelangelo – did he really use corpses to investigate the muscle groups??

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? I have always been quite 'arty' and my dream whilst at school was to become a children’s picture book illustrator. Unfortunately, as often happens, life got in the way and I forgot my childhood dream. Then in 2010 I was given that chance when a publisher offered me a contract to illustrate a double page spread panel for the picture book Where’s Michael? written by Xavier Waterkeyn. At that stage I didn’t realise how fortunate I was to have this offered to me. Of course I accepted, was totally hooked with the process, and have been working as an illustrator and book designer ever since.

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 actually have two creative workspaces. The first one is where I create my digital illustrations. This area used to be my photography darkroom before digital photography became the norm. I call it my dungeon because are no windows in this room. It keeps a constant temperature as it is downstairs and the wall backs up against a bank. The advantage here is that there are no light reflections on the computer screen and the lighting is always constant. Here I have my fabulous Wacom Cintiq 27HD computer, my various printers, papers, reference books, files etc. It is always a mess and my Art Director is a black cat called Basil who always snuggles up on the table next to the computer whilst I am working.

The second area is my eldest daughter’s former bedroom, of which I use the corner for my acrylic paintings and pencil drawings. It has a big picture window to allow lots of light. This room now also houses my sewing area and my home office space, and unfortunately has carpets, so I have to be very careful not to spill any paint – very difficult for me. I dream of having a huge Titan shed eventually where I can spill ink and paint to my heart’s content. It WILL happen!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process? My favourite part of the illustration process is when I receive a manuscript that I absolutely adore. This happened with the book Forest Wonder written by Caroline Tuohey. I just knew I had to illustrate it. I was absolutely delighted when Caroline agreed to let me be the illustrator. I had so much fun with this book.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator? 
Never give up your dream! I wasted over 30 years because I was talked out of pursuing an art career way back in high school, as it wasn’t a 'traditional' career in those days. I didn’t realise I could even draw until 2010!

Read lots and lots and LOTS of children's books. I have a huge reference library of children’s picture books which is becoming bigger and bigger with the years. My grandchild is going to absolutely love books!

Enter illustration competitions. Doesn’t matter if you don’t win anything – your name is becoming known. You will also get valuable feedback that will only help your work become better. Talk to other authors and illustrators. Join groups such as SCBWI and Illustrators Australia, and the ASA Style File. Go to conferences such as Kid Lit, CYA and SCWBI conferences. Put up a facebook page, instagram page and anything else that appeals to you. And network, network, network.

Muza Ulasowski established Muza Designs Studio in 2007, working from her home in Brookfield, West Brisbane. Primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children's picture books, Muza also specialises in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage. She also enjoys creating pencil and charcoal illustrations, acrylic painting, and photographing wildlife.
You can follow Muza on facebook and instagram, purchase her work through etsy or find out more via her website.