Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Bridget Acreman!

We’re so delighted to welcome the brilliantly talented Bridget Acreman to the blog! Bridget is an animator, broadcast designer and illustrator, with books including The Wizard Shark, Elkie’s Escape and My Nonno. Her piece in Our Australian HeART is ‘Leaf Party Dress’; a whimsical illustration created with layered, multi-textured digital brushes – sweeping up its viewers in the beauty of nature, warm earthy tones and adorable magical creatures putting on a show! We love it!

Thank you, Bridget! 🙂

About the Illustrator

Bridget Acreman is an illustrator and motion designer from the Central Coast NSW. She is incredibly passionate about children’s illustration.

Bridget has a background in animation and broadcast design, having worked in the fast-paced TV industry for many years. She hand draws all her illustrations digitally in photoshop using a number of tactile texture brushes for a fun organic feel.

Please visit Bridget Acreman at her website: www.strayleaves.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

Our Australian HeART can be purchased via the Just Write For Kids Australia website.

Donations can be made directly to our fundraising page at The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Bridget, thank you for joining me to chat about your amazing work!
Thanks so much! I’m so excited to be here and chat about illustration.

How did you come to be an artist?
As cliche as it is, I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved drawing and art and making things has always come naturally to me. Art was always my happy place, and I absolutely loved all mediums, from painting, collage, drawing and pastels.
My second love was movies and particularly animation. I adored animation and the classic hand drawn Disney films and stop motion animation. This led me to study a Bachelor of Arts in animation and visual effects at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. I had a great time in this degree and learnt a lot with regards to different animation styles, programs and also some art history and film study. After this I ended up in TV and did motion graphics for News and Current Affairs. Though, I always had my little side hustles where I would illustrate greeting cards and make my own products.

I soon realised that illustration was always my passion and no matter what I did with my life, I would always draw and create, and that’s a pretty nice feeling!

What does art and illustrating children’s books mean to you?
I love children’s illustration and creating art for kids. There is something so special about how a wonderful children’s book can unlock so many beautiful feelings and emotions. There’s often a misconception that children’s books and artwork is simple and easy. It’s actually quite complicated and hard to make something that is so universally understood and conveys strong messages in fewer words or even just images.

I could spend hours in the kids’ section of a bookstore and always just have a happy grin on my face when I’m looking at all the beautiful books and illustrations. Making people feel something through art is magical!

Tell us a bit about your published works.
I’ve currently self published my own children’s book ‘The Wizard Shark’ which was a self guided project during covid. I really wanted to get into kids books, so thought I had better teach myself how to make a book from start to finish. This was a fantastic project and I learnt a lot in the process. I think making opportunities for yourself and not just waiting for them to come along is really important. So, my advice to any aspiring illustrators or authors is to just make a book and see what happens!

From this experience I have now illustrated a number of books for self published authors. My most memorable is a book by Emily Cosenza called ‘My Nonno’, which is a book about her grandfather and all her lovely memories growing up. I was given a lot of reference material to make this book and it was so lovely to bring it together and see a little video of her presenting it to her Nonno for his birthday.

My new goal is to work towards being traditionally published and work with some of the great children’s publishers like Scholastic!

What does your illustration process look like?
I work mostly digitally in Photoshop and Procreate. I still love to sketch thumbnails in a sketchbook just to get very rough ideas down. I like to sketch my base illustration in Procreate on the iPad and then I generally bring everything into Photoshop because I can use more layers and I just like the brushes and workflow better.
I always block out my base colours first, then add texture and render the character or scenes and then add any final details last.
I love to use different texture brushes and stamp brushes for a fun organic feel. It’s a bit of an addiction for me to buy and download lots of beautiful gritty texture brushes!
In the past I’ve also been known to create my own textures from things around me. If you’re a digital artist, I highly recommend starting your own texture library! I take pictures of interesting textures in nature and the world around me. I also scan in fun clothing, patterns, fabrics and papers to create different textures. This helps make your digital work more organic and fun!

What drew you to enter the Just Write For Kids’ Picture It! Anthology Competition?
When I saw the competition advertised on Facebook I knew I just had to enter! The whole concept of appreciating and illustrating what we loved about the beautiful country and land that we live on is something I’m very passionate about. I love Australian flora and fauna and it features a lot in my work.

Your entry, Leaf Party Dress, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?
I feel so lucky to be included in this lovely anthology with so many amazing and talented Australian illustrators! Flicking through the book you have so many beautiful, unique and fantastic styles. I feel so inspired by them all and everyone’s story.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?
I knew I wanted to create something that celebrated Australian flora and fauna but with a fun magical element. I love leaves and think they are so beautiful with all their amazing colours and textures, so I wanted them to play a large part in the piece.
I also love creating cute little characters and an element of storytelling in my illustration. A lizard dressmaker just seemed so cute and fun, and we all know there are little fairies living in our gardens!

I really wanted to show that fantastic feeling you get when you have a new outfit and get to wear it for the first time, and you feel absolutely fabulous!

In what other ways do you spread the joy of art to children?
I have a small business called Stray Leaves (www.strayleaves.com) where I create greeting cards, stationery and wooden earrings. Everything is very bright and colourful and often grabs kids’ attention at markets! They particularly love the punny Australian animal birthday cards I have, which make them smile and laugh. This always makes my day!

Thanks so much, Bridget! It’s been an honour! 🙂

My pleasure!

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #leafpartydress #nature #picturebooks #justkidslit

Our Australian HeART by Just Write For Kids Australia and Friends is published by Daisy Lane Publishing.

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