Hi Kathleen, and welcome to The Book Muse.
When did you first start illustrating for books, and what attracted you to doing so?
I’ve always drawn on things (lecture notes, people), but I started seriously illustrating about ten years ago, when my first book cover (for Greer Gilman’s Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales, from Small Beer Press) was published.
I love stories and storytelling, and that is what attracted me to illustrating: this very immediate, physical way of telling tales and playing in other people’s stories.
Have you always enjoyed drawing and illustrating? What other things do you enjoy?
Yes, although I planned to do something with prose before I started working on my art. I remember a Little Red Riding Hood book we had with beautiful soft illustrations, and Garth William’s illustrations for the Little House books, and of course (and most of all) Pauline Baynes’s illustrations for Narnia: illustrations have always been important to me, but I enjoy it more the more I do it. Levelling up, getting a bit more control, pulling off an effect I’ve been trying to get right.
I also write (I have an Australian Gothic novella, Flyaway, coming out from Tor.com next year!), and do a bit of research and tutoring at university, and I’ve been a lawyer and a translator, among other things.
What is your favourite medium to use when illustrating?
I really enjoy the graphic simplicity and mystery and engineering considerations of cut-paper silhouettes, like these Corella illustrations. But I also enjoy the chatty narrative possibilities of pen-and-ink (a proper dip pen with a Hunt Crowquill 102 nib), and I do a lot of documentary/life sketching with Pitt marker pens. Lately I’ve been playing around with linocuts, as well. So: all of them! But I’m very fond of having a strong traditional media base, although I often tidy things up digitally and add digital colour.
How long have you been working with Corella Press?
I’ve been working with Corella since they started and I designed their logo! So many sketches of little parrots.
Do you work primarily with Corella Press, or are there other authors and places you work with?
I work with lots of publishers and individual authors. Small Beer Press have been with me from the very beginning, but I’ve worked with Tor.com, Candlewick, Little, Brown, Simon & Schuster, and Walker Books UK. Locally, I’ve worked with Ticonderoga, Twelfth Planet and Fablecroft, among others. And I do a lot of work with Angela Slatter, a Brisbane-based British Fantasy and World Fantasy Award winning author.
Did you enjoy creating the artwork for the books being released in this series?
The artwork for these Corella covers has been a great deal of fun. The books weren’t selected when we started, so I was needing to design a matched, linked set of images that saidAustralian Mystery and Crime, and then incorporate elements specific to each book as those emerged, and make them beautiful, too — or at least pleasing to me.
It’s a ridiculously fine and lacy piece, too — about 29cm round and all hand-cut, and such a pleasure to pick up and peer at the world through.
What are your plans for future projects?
So many! I’ve just finished a map and ornaments for Holly Black’s Queen of Nothingand chapter headers for the 10thanniversary edition of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel. There are a few secret projects with favourite authors in the works, but a fairy-tale book with Juliet Marillier, through Serenity Press, has been announced. And I want to experiment more with linocut illustrations.
Do you have any artists or illustrators who inspired you, or whose work you always enjoy seeing? Who are they and why?
So many! It’s hard to choose. But Rovina Cai’s work is enchanting, and Charles Vess’s illustrations have always been an inspiration. Pauline Baynes is the first illustrator I recognised as such: she isNarnia to me, but it’s her illustrations for Tolkien (especially Farmer Giles of Ham) that taught me a lot about the fun and possibilities of it. At the moment I’m collecting Angela Barrett’s and Evaline Ness’s picture books — Evaline Ness’s Do You Have The Time, Lydia, in particular, is vigorous and human and an important reminder to just do the work that needs to be done.
Kathleen also sent through these concept sketches of the artwork she created: