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

Thursday 25 February 2021

Meet The Illustrator: Max Hamilton

Name: Max Hamilton

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Watercolour filled with warmth, kindness and a touch of quirkiness.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My watercolour paints, quality paint brushes, pencils, lots of paper for scribbling ideas onto and desk space to spread out.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I really love painting with watercolour and I also love drawing and collage.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
I had to choose more as three was way too hard! I hope that’s OK.

Fine Artists who’s work inspires me are Paul Maher, Neridah Stockley, Michaye Boulter and Susie Dureau (all of which are contemporary Australian Artists). Children’s book illustrators who’s work inspires me are Marianne Dubuc, Julie Morstad, Alison Lester, Anna Walker, and Sophie Blackall to name a few.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I don’t have an artistic period I would like to visit but I would love to transport back to 1930’s Sydney and peep over the shoulder of Lloyd Rees capturing the city shorelines in his beautiful pencil sketches. His sketches of “Balls Head” and “The Giant Fig Tree” are some of my all time favourite pieces of Australian Art.
Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Ok, this answer may be a bit long winded but lots of factors come in to play...
I have loved drawing since I was very little and wanted to be a children’s book illustrator from about the age of 5. In Infants and Primary school my teachers would often give me the task of designing and illustrating the covers of class story collections which really gave me the taste of being published from a young age!
Mum painted lots when I was a child and fostered my love of art buying me quality art supplies whenever she could. Dad is a keen sketcher and book lover too. When I was little Dad read to me most nights, putting on voices of my favourite characters, such as Frances from “Bread and Jam for Frances”. This special time spent together is where my love of children’s books really began. I was also fortunate to have an amazing art teacher at high school, from years 9-12, who really encouraged and pushed me (Thanks Mrs J!). I then went on to study fine art at Uni (COFA) but left mid degree to study Graphic Design and Illustration, learning the art of illustration from the wonderful teacher, Wayne Harris. After finishing studying I got side tracked from my main goal of book illustration with full time graphic design and textile design jobs, travelling OS and family life so it took me a bit longer to get here than I had initially planned.

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 studio is in a room in my home overlooking the back garden. I had two desks, one for computer work and one for drawing and painting, until my husband was forced to work from home during COVID and stole my painting desk! Now one end of my desk is for computer work and the other set up for my painted illustration work with paints and pencils at hand. I like to have lots of art and children’s books and little objects around me for inspiration. The final photo is a colour test painting for my current book project with Walker Books - a nature storybook about Tasmanian Devils, written by the amazing Claire Saxby.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
For my own characters and stories my favourite part is creating their world and imagining all the little quirks that make these character unique (even if these details don’t end up in the final illustrations). For illustrating other peoples texts my favourite part is when I am in the thick of painting up the final book illustrations. I tend to get lost in this world and feel a little bereft when I finish the last illustration of each book and have to say goodbye to the characters I have spent months with. I've recently finished illustrating a book written by Kaye Baillie and it was such a joyous story to illustrate - “When the Waterhole Dries Up”.
 What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Paint and draw as often as you can, don’t spend too much time looking or worrying about what other people are doing, just tap into what you love and what you loved when you were little. Also remember to look out the window or go for a walk!
Max Hamilton is an award-winning illustrator, graphic designer and most enthusiastically a maker of children’s books. She enjoys noticing the little details in things and loves to get lost in the world of illustration and stories.

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