Just Write For Kids are thrilled to introduce emerging illustrator, Jacqui Hewlett to our new segment, ‘Just Picture This Illustrator Interview’! We met her via our Illustrator Competition earlier in the year. Nice to have you here, Jacqui! 😀 🎨
How did you come to be an illustrator, and what do you like about illustrating for children?
I had always loved to draw and on occasion would paint a personalised birthday or wedding card for family and friends but never really took myself seriously.
It wasn’t until the passing of my Mother, that I discovered the enjoyment of drawing again. I was influenced by my late Mother whom had only recently became a published author with her ‘ Adventures of Boots’, books 1-6 in Rhyme for ages 4 to 7 an Easy-Read Fiction Children’s Series. It was then that I discovered on her laptop three more stories that I was unaware she had written and so started to ghost write the other three stories to make up the next series of six.
However, without being able to reach the original illustrator for copyright, a voice inside said, ‘You could draw these” so I started plotting out the dummies and page turns with these NEW characters in mind with excitement of making my own Children’s Picture Book.
Who are your favourite artists or book illustrators that have made an impact on you as an artist? In what way have they influenced you?
I clearly needed guidance and took a course with Mira Reisberg from the Children’s Book Academy on how to write Children’s Picture Books and how to develop a character driven plot. I also took lessons with Mark G Mitchell on how to illustrate a Children’s picture book. His critique on my black and white submission, likened my illustration to that of a New York Cartoonist. And also honoured to learn the basics from a truly great artist, Sandra Temple. I recently joined ‘Share your Story’ group with Michelle Worthington, a renowned author, all of whom influenced me and encouraged me to reignite my passion without being judgemental despite the lack of authenticity compared to such great and true artists.
Please tell us about your latest projects. Do you have any recent publications? What projects are you currently working on?
Of course I am an expert in Procrastination and with several unfinished projects on the go at once, yet to be published. Despite receiving 2 rejections, only 98 to go! But I am currently reworking a story influenced by many of the native and wild birdlife that frequent my garden on a daily basis, but it is mainly based on a true character who was a little different from the rest who would feed out of my hand. This character also flew down and followed me taking my dog for a walk down the street, soon to be rewarded. I must have looked like a crazy person taking a dog for a walk closely followed by a White faced Heron! He visited me on and off for over four years, but sadly their life span is that of 6 years, so now I am delightfully visited by his offspring.
What does your art space look like – organised or chaotic?
My art space is often messy and chaotic with several mediums happening at once as I slowly progress through my own art slush pile.
What are your top tips for aspiring illustrators? Have you received a valuable piece of advice, and from who?
As I am an aspiring illustrator/writer myself, the only piece of valuable information that I have been told is to be organised and have separate folders for each idea, and map out your character’s personality – their habitat, likes, fears etc. This advice was from Arree Chung from the Storyteller Academy when I studied the basic story elements. Obviously I am still trying to implement that as per my previous answer!
What else do you love to do besides art? Anything unusual?!
With a diploma in Interior Design and Property Staging and many years of sewing with my ever faithful Brother machine I like to recover armchairs and footstools and sew matching cushions for myself and friends.
Thanks for your answers, Jacqui, and all the best with your artistic and writing endeavours!
Jacqui Hewlett was born in London, grew up in New Zealand at age 10, spent most of her childhood riding her horse along the beach and scaring the nudists hiding in the sand-dunes. She developed her love for children’s books much later in life. Jacqui has completed a course in Children’s Book Illustration, written a series of Picture Books and waits in anticipation for her characters and readers to come to life.
Email Jacqui at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her at her website: jacquihewlett.com