It's time for the next installment of Illustrator Interview's. And today I am thrilled to have Cally Johnson-Isaacs on the blog.
Hi Cally, thank you so much for joining me today! You are an incredible illustrator and I’m so excited to have you on the blog today! So onto the questions…
~ How did you first get into the children’s book world? Did you study illustration?
I studied illustration and graphic design and was lucky enough to be chosen to do work experience at Hallmark Cards. I’d discovered an exciting industry full of professional illustrators and highly creative design projects. As soon as I graduated I started to work in-house and I took the opportunity to specialize in children’s design where my love for creating characters continued to grow.
I had a great time and spent six years there until I decided it was time to pursue my children’s book dreams. I’m now fulltime freelance and since gaining an excellent agent I have taken my first steps into the picture book world.
~ Your first picture book Elephantantrum is being published soon, are you completely excited?! The cover is SO gorgeous – I can’t wait to buy my copy. How long would you estimate it took to illustrate?
Thank you Laura! I’ve been too excited for words since I signed my first book deal. I know it sounds cheesy but it genuinely is a dream come true. From initial thumbnails to finished artwork I spent about 4 months on my first book. Though some books can take as little as 3 months. It can vary greatly depending on scheduling and style.
I’ve built up a lot of greetings card experience over the years and I love to come up with new designs. My clients have been very supportive and are happy for me to work around my book projects. And Penny Black is such a nice job, my Mimi character is very popular. I’ve worked on so many Mimi designs that I’ve come to know her well. It’s a pleasure working on new situations and outfits for her. I think I must have a pencil and paper constantly at hand!
My current favourite is Ellie, the character from Elephantantrum. I enjoyed designing her and giving her a feather boa, ugg boots and fairy wings.
It’s difficult to choose a favourite illustration in general, I’m always working on my next idea and tend to fall in love with a current project or use experience to improve old designs.
I’ve used a mixed media style for a while now. Scanning artwork and using my mac to enhance or change colours. It’s nice working digitally when it’s only a click of a button to amend a design.
I worked manually when I was in-house. I mainly used gouache, as I loved the diversity. You can use it as a watercolor or heavy like acrylic. I still like to paint greetings cards from time to time.
~ If you could illustrate any book/text from any time in history, what would it be?
I’d love to illustrate a book that transcends the generations. It’s brilliant that I can buy my niece the very same books I loved as a child. Like The Very Hungary Caterpillar or the gorgeous Janet and Allan Ahlberg books.
I think I’d like to work on something strongly character driven like Wind in the Willows. It’s great giving animals personalities and Ratty and the gang are all so different.
~ Do you have new books or exciting projects in the pipeline?
Elephantantrum is published on July 5th. My second book, That Dog, is published on the 9th February. (Also with the fabulous Gillian Shields).
I’m currently working on a brilliant story based on one of my characters for Macmillan and at the moment I have a further 2 books lined up to do. All of which are keeping me very busy and very happy.
Thank you SO much for popping by today. You are such an inspiration and I cannot wait for Elephantantrum to be published!
Isn't Cally amazing? I love her style SO much. Cally's story gives me so much hope for my own dreams, and I could seriously spend hours gazing through her illustrations. If you fancy doing some gazing of your own, you can find Cally at...
Blog: cally jane studio