Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Imogen Hartland!

It’s such a pleasure to welcome another one of Our Australian HeART‘s brilliant contributors to our ‘The Art of an Illustrator’ segment! Thank you to the wonderful writer and illustrator, Imogen Hartland, to talk about her gorgeous art, Ocean Pools, and her illustration process. We selected this piece for the anthology for its unique and whimsical essence; magical storytelling amidst a captivating and energetic yet calming scene of NSW’s coastline depicted by painted paper collage, ripped perfectly at the sea edges with diverse characters cut with precision and rocky textures enticing a tactile quality. Magnificent, Imogen! 🙂

About the Author / Illustrator

Imogen Hartland’s writing and illustrations have featured in a number of literary children’s magazines. Her short story, ‘Sick as a Dog’ was published in Hot Diggety Dog: Tails from the Barkside (Share Your Story; 2023). Imogen’s poems and illustrations have also appeared in The Toy Press, PaperBound Magazine and The Dirigible Balloon.

Imogen uses a variety of different mediums in her artwork, often combining paper collage or printmaking with digital techniques.

Please visit Imogen Hartland at her website: www.imogenhartland.com and on Instagram.

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

Imogen, thank you for joining me to chat about your amazing work!

Thank you for having me!

How did you come to be an artist?

I’ve always made things, and had creative outlets… but actually, there was also a particular point in time when things shifted for me, and art became a bigger part of my life. I’d moved to Melbourne, by myself, for no *real* reason. When I got there, I hardly knew a soul in the city, and I just wandered the long straight streets in my big empty hours and *saw* things… like this:

“The wonder of the world
The shapes of things,
Their colours, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.”

I read that quote at the start of Benji Davies’ The Storm Whale, years later. (It was also inscribed at the start of apparently every book by Denys Watkins-Pitchford, or ‘BB’.)

Anyway, if I ever came to be an artist, it was walking those beautiful Melbourne streets.

What does art and illustrating children’s books mean to you?

Picture books are awe-inspiring to me—the poetry, art, ideas. I love the way they capture the most magical and joyful and important parts of life. I am completely enthralled by this form of art… and I just want to make picture books, too!

Tell us a bit about your published works.

I am SO excited to have a piece in the Our Australian Heart anthology…but we’ll get to that below by the look of it!

I have also published work that I’m really proud of in some children’s literature magazines. I have a lot of fun coming up with responses to thematic prompts. For a ‘Nature’ issue of The Toy I wrote and illustrated a poem about ants pinching the sprinkles from the fairy bread at a birthday party picnic. I carved an ant stamp from a piece of old rubber, painted watercolour blobs for a spectrum of 100s and 1000s, then adorned each blob with a cheeky ant. For a ‘Past/Future’ issue of PaperBound Magazine, I did some digital drawings of clocks through the ages (a sundial, a grandfather clock, a fob watch, a swatch, a CASIO)… AND I invented a future clock*, though that didn’t make the cut for the magazine. Sigh!

(* It was a pyramid! I imagined it working in some mechanical way to refract light—that the light would bend differently depending on the time of day—and then the pyramid would somehow report the time back in binary code!)

What does your illustration process look like?

Sometimes I just draw with whatever colourful crayons/pencils/pens I can get my hands on… but lately I’ve been mostly making collage illustrations. This process is messy, but SO much fun.

I usually have a vision of the final image before I begin. Then depending on the project, I might start by painting paper in some colours that I like, or otherwise I’ll fetch my handy folder of colour-coded offcuts from other projects. Next, I’ll work on creating parts of a composition (the scenery, or individual characters) one-by-one. I usually snip by instinct; then cobble a few colours together; then when it feels right, glue! When I have all the individual parts done, I’ll scan them into my computer and play with the composition a bit (in particular, I often change the relative size of things), remove any dust flecks I spot, and add some digital finishing touches.

What drew you to enter the Just Write For Kids’ Picture It! Anthology Competition?

I cannot explain how excited I was to see this competition—the prompt was self-evidently inspiring (pick a colour and tell us what you love about Australia!), but also, as an aspiring picture book author/illustrator, the opportunity to possibly feature in a real-life picture book, and to share that experience with other people in the community, was just so wonderful. It would’ve been a delight just to give it a go, and then… [to be continued!]

Your entry, Ocean Pools, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

… it was a ridiculous joy, and thrill, and honour, to be actually selected for the anthology! And now to hold the book in my hands and to be involved in sharing it with the world! Unbelievable. I am so grateful that Just Write for Kids for all the work that has gone into inspiring and creating this picture book. And I love that part of the proceeds are supporting the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

I live near a few ocean pools at the moment and I am captivated by them. They have become such a big part of my life in the last few years—when I’ve been visiting the beach with my little kids in tow. I think they are absolutely beautiful to look at, and just magical to experience. I feel like I belong in an ocean pool…like I have a bodily memory of evolving from the sea… like I am part sea-creature! I wanted to share that feeling in my piece.

In what other ways do you spread the joy of art to children?

Do you know what? I think I’m in debt; for the most part, children spread the joy of art to me!

Thanks so much, Imogen! It’s been an honour! 😊

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #oceanpools #picturebooks #justkidslit

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: