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

Thursday 7 May 2020

Meet The illustrator: Kate Talbot

Name: Kate Talbot

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Expressive characters depicted in vibrant colours and rich textures.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I recently started working digitally, using Procreate on an iPad.

So as long as I can recharge every 6-hours or so and get regular refills of coffee and chocolate, I can pretty much work anywhere. It’s the number one reason I made the switch to digital.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I work 100% digitally, although, I don’t like my work to look digital. As such, I work a lot with photographs of textures, laying them in over my drawings. As Procreate only allows a maximum of 16 layers (for double spreads) I have hundreds and hundreds of files containing separate elements – individual character, buildings, props etc. I then compile them in one master 'assembly' file. The process is time-consuming and fiddly, but it allows me a lot of control and the ability to return to previous versions if I find something new isn’t working.
Name three artists whose work inspires you.
I love the way Axel Scheffler captures emotional and personality so effortlessly.

I adore RogĂ©rio Coelho’s use of colour and world building. And Chantelle and Burgen Thorne taught me how to build texture into my work so that it reflects a more traditional look. I try to borrow from each of these artists whenever I’m creating a piece. 

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I’d cut off my right arm to return to the time of the impressionists. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration - my left arm. I still need to draw after all. But ever since I was a small child, I’ve been captivated by the Impressionist mastery of colour and light. 

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I come from a filmmaking background, so stories always come to me as scenes or sequences. For a long time, I flip-flopped on whether I had the chops to make it as an illustrator (I still struggle with this on a daily basis). However, I constantly come up against the challenge of my stories not making sense without the illustrations (even with the use of art notes). Each time I’ve made the decision to focus solely on writing (before attempting to conquer illustrating), I’ve been flooded with comments from critique partners that my writing is flat, makes no sense or is missing something. The second I show them the illustrations, they instantly get 'my vision' and the writing seems to fix itself. It’s become pretty clear that my stories came as a package, and if I’m going to make it in this business, I’m going to have to tackle writing and illustrating simultaneously. 

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
As I work digitally I like to work all over the place. I’m temporarily living in Spain and the weather is beautiful and the food delicious, so I’m out and about a lot. As I’m a mother of two little dudes, I also have to 'create in the cracks'. The iPad is so portable that I tend to carry it with me, and when I get a few minutes to myself, I can get a little work done. 

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
About 1-hours (or 1-day) into any portion of the process. Basically, I HATE starting. Staring at a blank canvas or a sketch that need colouring, terrifies me. But once I get into the task, I find my groove and become absorbed. For this reason, it’s very important for me to work on multiple projects at a time – sketching thumbnails for one project while working on finals for another. I need to keep my mind active and skills sharp on all aspects of the process or I find it very difficult to get back into it.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Find another career! Something with a straightforward path - something that isn’t based on opinion and interpretation. But if you simply MUST illustrate (and I hope that you must) then NEVER give up and never listen to anyone that tells you you shouldn’t be doing it. This is a tough industry, one that I’m yet to crack, and I question whether I’ve chosen the right path all the time. But the fact of the matter is that this industry is made up of people that just kept going. So be one of those people.

 Kate is an Australian writer/illustrator whose past career in filmmaking influences her quirky writing and vibrant illustrations. She is a member of SCBWI, 12x12 and Inked Voices and a graduate of The Lyrical Language Lab, Storyteller Academy and The Children’s Book Academy. Kate recently signed with Dominic Yarabe of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.

For more information, please visit Kate's website or follow her on instagram.