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- author Jackie French

Thursday 11 November 2021

Meet The Illustrator: Ruth-Mary Smith

Ruth-Mary Smith

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Some of this is the way I see my style and some of these words have been told to me by art directors so here goes…
My style is warm and whimsical with a focus on showing heart-felt connection. It has also been described as soft and hand-drawn in style.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
I love to create in a space that inspires, so for me this includes lots of light, pretty things such as beautiful artwork and lots of art supplies. For me the basics include
· Traditionally- a fabulous sketch book with Blackwing pencils, also watercolours, pastels and my Prismacolor pencils.
· Digitally- my iPad and pencil, and my computer ready with photoshop and Indesign.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I spend most of my creative time sketching in a sketchbook and then finishing it off digitally in Procreate on my iPad. I love both these mediums but then at times crave the traditional materials and then have a traditional play. I think artists nowadays are creating their own process for making their illustrations. I think of my artwork as hybrid rather than traditional or digital.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
This is a bit of a dreaded question for me as I love so many Australian artists’ work and could never whittle it down to three! Let me take the safe path and name three overseas artists, I choose Devon Holzwarth, Felicita Sala & Rebecca Green but could add SO many more!
Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
While I have favourite artworks from a variety of periods, I honestly am enjoying the period I am in now. I love the freedom to see such a variety of artwork and artists.
But as an amazing treat I would love to go back in time to visit Beatrix Potter. We would sip tea and talk about the memories of her sweet bunnies that inspired her to write The Tale of Peter Rabbit. I would love to visit her studio and see her peacefully paint a picture of Peter! Perhaps this idea has been said before, but I just read 'Beatrix and her Bunnies' by Rebecca Colby and illustrated by Caroline Bonne-Muller and am inspired!

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
Like many fellow illustrators, I was drawing as a child. It has always factored in my life in some form. Being creative is an integral part of my life, a deep-down God given trait. When I don’t get time to create, I feel an unrest inside. A few years ago, I made the decision to pursue picture book illustration, I can’t name exactly what caused it, but it was like I flicked a switch and knew this was my direction.

Can you share a photo of your creative workspace or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
My workspace is set up with traditional materials as well as digital equipment which suits my hybrid style. I always start with sketching and use the old pencil and sketchbook for this process. When working on a storyboard or working on a final illustration I use the Procreate app on my iPad. I don’t always sit or stand at my desk when using my iPad but have the freedom to move around. When it is complete, I move my illustration into photoshop for final tweaks. I also have a printer for archival prints if I want to see it on paper. At my desk I will send it to its destination such as a publisher or to my portfolio or website. I find my workspace a lovely place to be, and it inspires me. Of course, it includes the dog bed underneath so my two studio buddies, Calamity and Katie, can join me!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I don’t have a simple answer to this question as the various steps of illustration have their good and tricky bits. For example, I love the sketching stage when you are homing in on meeting your character and thinking yes, I am going to quite enjoy getting to know you. I also love adding the finishing touches to an illustration when it has gone together in the way I was hoping. I find storyboarding sometimes trickier as it is when your imagination is given free reign and so much of the final look of the book hinges on decisions during this time, this responsibility is somewhat daunting!

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
This is advice I read when I first started- if you make the decision to become an illustrator, then make up your mind you will take a step every day. Some days have gigantic steps and some days little tiny shuffles but over time these make a path.

I wish everyone well on their journey.

Ruth-Mary Smith is an Australian illustrator with a sweet, whimsical and warm style. She has been published in the USA, been the recipient of an ASA mentorship will have her picture book, Little Mister Gets a Sister, written by Samaria Lemke and published by Larrikin House in October 2021.

For more information, please visit Ruth-Mary's website or follow her on instagram.

Website www.ruth-marysmith.com

Insta www.instagram.com/ruthmary_smith

Email ruthmaryillustrates@gmail.com