KidLitVic 2019

So it’s been about a week since KidLitVic 2019, I’ve had a busy week so this is my first chance to sit down and think about how it all went. It’s such a great conference, and a great opportunity to meet publishers, writers, and other illustrators involved in creating children’s literature. 

This year I had my folio on display at the Illustrators Showcase. This is my second time at the conference, and I felt much more confident than last year. When I was putting my folio together, I had a look at last years folio, and realised how much I’ve improved. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but it was certainly encouraging to see for myself that there’s been a big change. I think it’s hard to see that when you’re in the middle of it, so getting to step back and see where I was last year, and where I am now was a good process.

I also decided to do one masterclass and one assessment this year. First was the master class which was held by Donna Rawlins. It was about ways to get your portfolio to stand out, and to improve your work. There was so much really good information, and Donna is an entertaining speaker, so it was a great start to the day. My favourite part of her talk was her advice to look at other illustrators critically, and really think about why you like their work, what works and what doesn’t. Then taking those elements into your own practice. It made think about how I often get caught up in my own head a lot of the time, and that it’s good to look at what other people are doing, and why certain illustration/art styles speak to you.

Next was my assessment with Clair Hume from Affirm Press. It’s really hard to put your work out there for assessment. While I’d love to just get positive feedback I can recognise that that wouldn’t be helpful to me at this point. I need that push to make myself try new things, and get better, rather than becoming complacent. Clair had a lot of great suggestions and constructive feedback for me. We were able to talk about ways I can create more depth and movement into my images, and really elevate my work. It was helpful feedback and it’s given me a lot of things to think about and work on into the future.

Honestly I’ve been feeling a bit down about myself the last few months. I’ve been struggling to keep working as a freelancer and all the challenges that come with that. Being at the conference this year made me think about whether I want to keep pursuing illustrating children’s books. It feels hard to get a foothold in the industry, and there are a lot of other ways I can put my artwork out into the world now. But I love books so much, and reading stories. I love that I have one book out in the world, and I want to do more. 

Coming to the conference has given me some more direction for ways to improve, with some clear steps forward. And I’m excited to start working on that.

Spinning Plates

So I don’t really have much of a point to this post, just some musings about where I am at the moment in work and life. I’ve been a bit quiet on social media lately since the last couple of months have been incredibly busy, but busy with things that I enjoy doing! Including travel, dance events, more artistic work, and a new job.

I really enjoy freelancing. It’s great to be able to set my own hours, and have a flexible schedule. I like having the freedom to explore different ideas that I’m interested in, and being able to work in a way that suits me. 

Unfortunately there are some downsides. Work isn’t always consistent, there are plenty of times when there’s nothing coming in, and other times where I’m doing a lot of work - which always seems to coincide with busy periods in my personal life. I’m currently not making enough as a freelance artist to only do that, so I have a few other jobs that I do to make ends meet. They all have different demands, and arranging schedules can be stressful. I never really feel like I stop working. Even when I’m at home on the weekend or at night, I’m always thinking of ways to improve my business, or feeling guilty that I’m not spending enough time on it. Most of the time it feels like I’m spinning a lot of different plates, and it’s difficult to keep them all up in the air.

The last couple months in particular, I’ve found this has had a bad effect on my mental health. I’ve always struggled with anxiety to various degrees, so trying to figure out the best way to deal with it when it relates to my career has been hard. I’m still working on it. I’ve been working through a lot of self doubt and fear about the future. I want so badly to make this a viable career, and there are some days where it just doesn’t seem possible.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’m really grateful for my relationships with other people. When I was travelling, and then coming home to another big dance event, I met up with a lot of friends I don’t get the chance to see all that often. And it reminded me of how much I love and rely on my friendships, and other relationships. The joy of seeing each other, and spending time together, especially when we know it won’t last for long. The people in my life have all been so supportive of me as I’ve changed careers and I’m grateful for it.

I’ve had so many friends who’ve requested commissions, given me advice on markets/selling/freelancing, buying prints, liking my social media posts and putting me in touch with possible short term jobs for money. My family have always been so supportive. Always ready to give advice, also requesting commissions and prints, and helping me out financially. 

Finally, Chris has been my biggest support. He’s always been good at calming me down when I’m stressing about work, helping me out at markets, and believing in me even when I don’t. I’m so thankful for his support and love.

I feel very lucky. Even on my busy days and down days. I’m very lucky to be able to try to do this, and it’s a wonderful thing. Thank you all so much, because I couldn’t do it without you x

Commissioning an artwork

Hello everyone! I thought for this blog post, I’d write a little bit about commissions, and what that process is like when someone commissions an artwork from me. For example, my friend Julia wanted to create a birthday present for her husband John, of him flying in his glider. So I’m going to take you through the steps of that image.


The first step is to talk about what the client would like in the image. Is it a present for someone else? Which people would they like in there, what kind of poses? If the client isn’t entirely sure, then that’s fine, and we can work on developing ideas together. At this stage I also gather together some reference images, photos of people/places/items that the client would like to include in the image. So here are some of the reference images Julia gave me.

Rough draft/sketch

The next step is to put together a rough sketch of what the final image might look like. Sometimes I’ll do a few different sketches for different compositions/ideas. Or if the client has a clear idea for the image already, then I’ll start from there. 

After getting feedback from this first sketch, I’ll make changes, and clean up the lines a bit. For example, in this project Julia asked me to add in the bird, after seeing the first sketch.

First draft with colour

Then comes the first draft with colour. This is my favourite part, because it feels like everything is coming together.

After this stage we a made a couple more tweaks, including adjusting John’s hair and adding in the ground. One of the great benefits of working digitally is that it’s very easy to go back and change things around. When I’m working with traditional media it’s not as easy. 

Final Image

The last change we made was adjusting the colour of the sky a little bit, and then we were all done!

At the end of the day, my main goal is to ensure that clients are happy with their images. After all they’re going to look at it a lot more than I will, so I want to make sure they get a lot of chances to give feedback, and that the finished product feels right to them. 

So if you’ve got an idea for a birthday present, or if you’ve got a great idea for yourself, send me a message! I’m currently available for commissions, and I’d love to hear from you!

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