Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Jennifer Horn!

Our next talented artist is the amazing Jennifer Horn – author, illustrator and graphic designer inspired by the greats of Quentin Blake and Charles Mackesy. Jennifer’s magical visual storytelling pieces project an essence of whimsy and a loose energy that so gloriously capture her subjects’ character, just like her impeccable ‘Scrub Turkey’ that can be found scratching and settling itself amongst the pages of Our Australian HeART. It has such a boldness and expression that aptly exemplify the assertion of a ‘nesting’ mother in charge of her important impending role.

Thank you, Jennifer! 🙂

About the Illustrator

Jennifer Horn is a Brisbane-based freelance illustrator and children’s writer. Her debut picture book “The Precious Plum” was released in October 2021 amongst some very musical live book launches. She illustrated the cover of Anthology Angels’ children’s fundraising anthology of 2021, Once Upon a Whoops!: Fractured Fairytales and Ridiculous Rhymes (2021) and her short stories have appeared in each of these annual publications since 2018: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (2018), Spooktacular Stories (2019) and Tell ‘Em They’re Dreaming (2020). Her first Young Adult short story, Faulty Connection, was published in Rhiza Edge’s dystopian and sci-fi anthology, Crossed Spaces earlier this year. She was awarded a Highly Commended for her submission of middle grade illustrations at the 2020 CYA Conference. 

With a background in Architecture, Jen draws on her love of stories and adventure to create whimsical illustrations in a Quentin-Blake-inspired squiggle style. She enjoys reading books over local community station Reading Radio, and playing accordion in the eclectic ensemble Obscure Orchestra.  She has also been part of Art Department teams on several Brisbane-based films, including Stan’s Christmas on The Farm, Netflix’s Romance on the Menu and Amazon Prime’s The Umbrella

Please visit Jennifer Horn at her website: www.jenniferhorn.com.au 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.

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

Hi Romi/JWFK! Thank you for having me.

How did you come to be an artist?

I have been drawing since as long as I can remember: my grandmother reminds me that as a kid I would ask her to pause the VHS of my favourite cartoon so I could copy it from the screen. Only in the last handful of years, after turning over vocational stones all over the place, did I realise Illustration was there all along, waiting for me to see it could be a career.

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

That I am lucky enough to dedicate my life to learning a type of magic and making storytelling come to life in a visual way. And honing a craft that wants no retirement!

Tell us a bit about your published works.

My first published work was my own fairytale picture book, The Precious Plum, which was a massive wearing-all-hats learning curve but also a real test of courage to let out an original book baby into the world. It had gone through about three totally different illustration styles as I tried over the years to feel out what worked, until Covid changed the game for everything, and Charles Mackesy released his gem, “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” and I knew I’d found my role model book.

Since then, I have illustrated for self-published authors and indie houses, the most recent being The Boy From The Sea by Daisy Lane Publishing. I am currently illustrating with excitement an early reader with Wombat Books, about a little black cat called Skippy Blackfeet!

What does your illustration process look like?

I am such a pencil-and-paper girl; those Procreate programs look wonderfully convenient but I just don’t think I can get the same buzz from sketching without that bit of tooth from a paper page! After that, it’s all digital though – I try to sketch from reference where I can, then bring the sketches into Photoshop to colour and polish. I actually relish working with watercolour, but find I will only do this if I know the art won’t need revisions. That is much simpler in digital.

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

As grateful as I was to be a new mum at the time, I found the whiplash of lifestyle change such a shock, including the time and opportunity available to nourish my art side. I’ve always found it easier to get momentum for illustration competitions than writing ones, so this was the perfect time-limit package – and ironically, couldn’t have done it without being a mum. 

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

I’m honoured to be part of this very community-feeling collection with everyone’s different and skilful perspectives! This anthology and prompt came at such a unique season in my life that it feels like a special time capsule.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

I was originally wanting to do an architectural/urban sketching illustration, but couldn’t think of something I felt a strong emotional connection with. I then brainstormed Australian animals and within the long list, scrub turkeys came up. With that, I remembered how randomly emotional and connected I felt to the last one I came across while pregnant. I used calligraphy pen to sketch, then digitally coloured and composited. And what makes a species like this important? To its future chicks, it’s the most important creature in the world.

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

I worked with school-aged girls for years in a boarding setting, and set up a Drawing Club for anyone who wanted to come sit around a table to just draw, colour in, or chat. I would bring different picture books from my collection each week for the girls to draw from, we would sketch other people in the room, and generally it was a wonderful doorway into some of the more introverted girls’ rich inner worlds. In this way, art became a way for them to feel at home there. It is powerful that way! And now that I have my own baby boy, I am reading him all these wonderful board books and can’t help pointing out the interesting art styles in them!

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

Thank you for having me and taking in my scrub turkey, Romi/JWFK!

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #scrubturkey #australianbirds #picturebooks #justkidslit

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

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