For today's Illustrator Interview I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you to Brooke Boynton Hughes. Brooke is my first interviewee from across the pond and I am completely blown away by her work. It is just beautiful.Hi Brooke, thank you so much for joining me today! I’m very pleased to be interviewing you, I love your illustrations, and you are my first US interviewee. So onto the questions…
~ How did you first get into illustration? Did you go to art school?
Thank you so much for having me! I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books and have been drawing since I was very little. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in 2005, which is when I really started focusing on putting together a children’s book portfolio.
~ Are you a full time illustrator? And did you design your beautiful website yourself?
I do work full time as an illustrator, although it’s only recently that I have any income to speak of from my illustrations. The last couple of years I’ve been focused on building my portfolio, adding items to my etsy shop, and just learning to be more comfortable using pen and ink and watercolors.
~ You have some gorgeous products in your etsy shop. Do you have a favourite? Do you also illustrate picture books?
Oh, thank you! I think my favorite is the Animal Friends note card set. I really loved drawing those characters. I haven’t illustrated any picture books yet, but I hope that I will have the opportunity to do a picture book soon!~ When illustrating do you mainly use traditional methods? Would you mind telling us a little about your technique?
My main materials are pen and ink and watercolor on Arches 140lb, hot press watercolor paper. I love drawing characters best of all and most of the ideas for my portfolio pieces come from characters that I’ve doodled.
Once I know what my characters will look like I start out each illustration with a series of thumbnail sketches (at first very small and then a bit bigger) in order to work out the composition. Once I feel ready to start the final illustration (usually after I’ve thought about it for a few days and have an idea of how I will approach painting the image) I start drawing directly onto the watercolor paper with pencil. I start out very roughly, using big shapes, in order to make sure I have everything where I want it. Then I get tighter, clean everything up and add the details.
When the pencil drawing is finished I use a dip pen and acrylic ink to put in outlines and textures. When the ink is dry, I erase all of the pencil lines and then soak and stretch the paper. Once the paper is dry I start painting. Often I’ll start by laying down either a yellow or light blue wash, depending on the image. Sometimes I’ll scan the inked image before stretching the paper in order to do a color study in Photoshop before I paint.
When I’m finished painting I scan the image and use Photoshop to make minor corrections.
Ooo, this is such a good question! There are so many wonderful stories to choose from! But, the one that jumped into mind immediately is Alice in Wonderland. There are so many strange and wonderful characters to bring to life! A very close second would be one of Grimm’s fairytales, preferably something that takes place in a dark forest.
~ If you weren’t an illustrator what do you think you would be?
There were a few years where I thought I might be a singer. I was in an all girls country band from age 12 to 17. I studied classical singing for several years and when I first started at college, I didn’t get any art scholarships, but I did get a handful of vocal scholarships. I was also in a rock band for a while.
I also really enjoy doing fine art drawings and woodcuts (you can see some of them if you click on the bumble bee next to my name on my website). But really, I can’t imagine being anything but an illustrator.
I’ve just started working on a chapter book for Disney-Hyperion, written by Kate Hannigan that will come out in 2014. I’m SO excited to be working on this project! Most of the images will be black and white, which I love doing, and I really love the story, which makes it even better.
Thank you SO much for popping by today Brooke. I can’t wait to see more of your work – it’s just gorgeous! And your chapter book sounds very exciting!
If you want to read more about Brooke's work head to:
You can read the other interviews in the Illustrator Interviews series here, and if you are an illustrator who would like to take part please do give me a shout.