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

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Guest Post: Jennifer Cossins

Author of The Daddy Animal Book and the best-selling A-Z of Endangered Animals, 101 Collective Nouns and The Ultimate Animal Counting Book, Jennifer Cossins, award- winning artist and writer, is dedicated to presenting to children through her marvellous books, knowledge about animals and their habitats. This has been the centre of all her publishing successes.

With her newest release, The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book, Jennifer shares with us her inspiration, research techniques and other tasty morsels of information about her habits. 

You have a passionate interest in nature and the animal kingdom. Where does this deep connection, and the inspiration for your work, stem from?

I’ve loved animals since the day I was born so I honestly think I was just born this way!

Growing up in Tasmania, close to nature, I’m sure has impacted me as well. I find animals endlessly interesting so there’s no shortage of inspiration for my work out there! 

A tremendous amount of research is obvious for such comprehensive knowledge to be available in your books. Can you share your research techniques with us?
I research the traditional way - Google! However, it’s important to double check all those facts and find them on reputable sites. I also have a collection of animal books that are great for facts and getting inspiration.

Your research extends to the facts and trivia connected to each image you create. How much time does it take to complete one of your publications?
It takes about a year to complete a book. The majority of that time is spent on the artwork which takes me way longer than the fact finding, but it’s also my favourite bit. Getting lost in a drawing in my happy place!  

In your latest publication, The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book, you have presented many unknown animals, from all over the world. Do you keep a record of which ones have appeared already in other books?
I have a folder with all the animals I have drawn in it. There are hundreds, probably over 1000 by now! I do try to keep introducing new animals with every book I do, but there’s plenty of favourites that have been drawn multiple times now - for example, wombats and elephants, my two favourite animals, feature in many of my books!

Your illustrations/art work are incredibly detailed. What media do you use, which do you prefer, and how do you bring the images to life with such clarity?
I draw digitally on a Wacom tablet with a digital pen. I always start with photos to help me get the positioning of an animal right, then once I’m happy with the basic sketch, I start meticulously adding details. I refer to photos a lot because it’s important to me for the images to be accurate. However, there comes a point where I start adding details and patterning to bring the animal to life in my own way. 

You also run a business, the Red Parka in Tasmania. Your vibrant designs used there again reflect your love of nature. Please share with us the other creative areas you are involved in that are available in your shop.
I design a range of products for the shop such as textiles, stationery and jewellery, all featuring the animals I love so much! I also dabble in pottery and sell some of my clay creations in the shop.

Your artistic work is very time-consuming. How do you manage to juggle so many areas at one time?
Honestly, I have no idea!! I do keep a diary and lots of lists that sometimes help me keep on track. But sometimes it’s chaos… I just work hard and hope it all comes together!

Do you have a future project started, or in mind, that you can share with us?
I’m currently working on a new book that will be coming out late next year called Book of Curious Birds. Birds are my favourite subject so I’m excited about this one!