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

Thursday 22 April 2021

Meet The Illustrator: George Sweetland

: George Sweetland

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Whimsical, humorous, loving, fantastical, textural, silly, and imaginative.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My sketchbook, a few handy pencils, Mac desktop, and my trusty iPad Pro round out my essential art tools. I mostly work with digital art and rely predominantly on using Procreate with the occasional splash of Adobe Illustrator.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I utilize digital art software, mostly using Procreate to create my artwork. Procreate has honestly brought me to a new level in creating illustrations and I am producing pieces I never thought I could do until I used this program.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
There are so many incredibly talented artists out there from my childhood to the present. It makes it so difficult to choose. However, if I had to select three current artists/illustrators, they would probably be Emma Yarlett, Nicola Slater, and Benjamin Mantle. But there are so many other artists out there that inspire me everyday.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I have thought about this before and honestly, my answer is the present. We’re living in an artistic period when such an astonishing amount of artists are producing unique and wonderful artwork that range from digital to more traditional pieces. This is a time where I feel the artwork and picture books being illustrated are beginning to highlight more diverse artists from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Books are starting to be more culturally relevant. I am constantly picking up picture books from artists who are bringing their own voices and styles front and centre. Artists such as Courtney Dee, April Harrison, Dapo Adeola, Alea Marley, Lenny Wen, and Dzung Ho.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Being an only child and keeping myself busy growing up, played a role in my love of art. Times when I was entertaining myself, I would either being playing with action figures or picking up a crayon or colour pencil. I genuinely enjoyed drawing my own made up characters and even writing stories and creating my own picture books. There was a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment. I always had the dream to do it professionally.
Teaching elementary school students from preschool to third grade for over 14 years has also had a significant impact on me becoming an author/illustrator. I’ve always enjoyed performing read alouds with my students. I love to be animated and make different voices to help bring to life the characters authors and artists create. After experiencing this first hand, and maintaining my love for creating art over the years, I told myself one day I wanted to make that same impact. I want to help foster that love for reading through my own picture books.

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 work area consists of a desk with my computer and my iPad Pro, along with a library of picture books that inspire me to do my best work everyday. This workspace is located in my basement. This is a place for me to work and create. You’ll find stacks of picture books that I read and admire. One of these days I’ll get a proper bookcase.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
Every part of the process of creating illustrations is vital. However, for me personally, its most enjoyable when I’m in the thick of it. The storyboard has been approved and I’m now working on final draft illustrations and the story is coming to life with colours and textures. It’s an amazing feeling to watch as you breathe life into the pictures and witness first hand a story truly come together.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
The biggest advice I can give other artists out there is to really believe in your potential and always be willing to improve; but also have the openness to listen to advice from other artists who have experience in this world of picture books and publishing. There is always room to grow and evolve and you want to remain faithful to who you are, but sometimes advice and constructive criticism have a helpful role in your journey.
With that, you also want to block out negative reviews or criticisms. I never let that deter me from reaching my goals and I still don’t to this day. If you work hard every day and push yourself to become better, I really truly believe that you can accomplish your dreams. I always think of a quote from the famous actor Denzel Washington, who said “if you hang around the barbershop long enough….. sooner or later you're gonna get a haircut."


George Sweetland is an author and digital artist. He has currently illustrated six books ranging from stories about dragons, to playing in the mud, to dogs acting like cats. He lives with his wife, two sons, and a fluffy golden doodle in Connecticut, USA.

For more information, please visit George's website or follow his instagram