An artist has a process of art.  The ‘how I do what I do’.  I will try not to dress it up too much as it can get a bit wordy…and I like words.

What is process (for those who don’t know)? Ideas, technical proficiency, tenacity, vision, and basically getting something down on paper or whatever it is that says yeah, thats what I was after.  I think.  But maybe…and then off you go again.

Art is never finished, but it does come to a point where there is a decreasing amount you can do to something to make it closer to your vision. One of the problems is there always seems to be a sense that there are more colours that exist than exist in the real world.

My process of art

For years I haven’t really thought about ‘process’. Whether that is a  good thing or not I don’t know.  I seem to just create intuitively. But then again, it is important, because one thing it can do is to get you unstuck when you are stuck. If you don’t have ‘the muse’ for the moment then you can dry as an artist and just stop.  As a not starving artist, and someone who is determined to prove my school teachers wrong that people can’t live off being an artist, you can’t rely on those muse moments.

Ok, so I DO get muse moments.  A thought will strike me, or an idea, but not all the time.


1.Process of art: the doodle

I throw blobs of paint, either digital or traditional, onto paper. Or I might start with a thumbnail scribble. Either way, in my head your story comes alive to me and I ‘stop the film’ at the interesting parts and try to capture some of the shapes and forms of that moment. Once the sillouettes are clear, I will then arrange them into a composition to focus on the story telling aspect. For an illustrator of children’s books the point is that the words and pictures need each other.

2. Process of art: refine and develop.

Again, it doesn’t matter if its digital or traditional, once the thumbnail is done I will then expand on it and start adding details, and finally drop in light and dark. I am already thinking about colours, and saturations. When Illustrating a book the most important thing is that a character looks the same at the end of the book as the beginning, and when viewed from different angles the character is recongisable. So I will often have spent time with the writer getting the characters exactly right first. They must look unique when viewed close up and from far away. And then I have to develop the process to replicate the characters, and even spend time just drawing them over and over in different poses which often have nothing to do with the book itself so that I can ensure consistency.  I might also spend time with an author developing a style of art which will work with the story, and again I will work out a process to make sure that the end picture belongs with the first.

3. Refinement

At each stage there is the opportunity for the writer or publisher to ask for changes. Because changing final art, even digital art, is harder the further along you go. So if you are a self-publisher hiring me for my work, then expect to have good communication right through the process. I will need you to be on the ball too and reply promptly.

When I am working I will often have two or three projects on the go at once as there is often a delay whilst I am waiting for clarification back concerning some aspect of the story or the art. To keep costs down I will work on other pieces. This is not the case when working for publishers since they usualy have full time staff who answer immediately, but many self-publishers have other commitments. Full time publishers I work on just one project at a time.

I build into my time frame the need to be flexible so you will be told about that before I start.