Today’s interview is with Steve Page, illustrator of THE PENCIL EATER and many other picture books. Author Stacey Corrigan, takes us through a series of questions. It’s always fun getting to know your book partner better, isn’t it?
Here’s a toughie to start you off. Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Fun, Quirky, Energetic, Colourful, Amusing, Sketchy, Friendly, Cute.
Can you name the TOP 3 artists who are your biggest inspiration and tell us why you love them? They can be from any artistic era or genre.
There are so many great illustrators and artists out there it’s really hard
to choose. I usually love pieces of work rather than a specific artist,
whether it’s an old master’s painting or the concept art from a movie or game.
I would have to say Disney had a major impact on me as a kid. I loved their animated movies and their books. They had an influence on my ‘style’ and I guess they are why I illustrate children’s books. I used to spend hours studying them, especially the books that showed how to draw the character. The same can be said about Marvel comics. I was never much of a reader of novels as a kid but give me a comic and I was off. I would spend ages drawing my favourite superhero of that time, usually Captain America or DareDevil.
If I had to name names, Tony DiTerlizzi would have to be a favourite. The work he did for The Spiderwick Chroniclesis just stunning. The imagination and detail he puts into his work is incredible. His fusion of natural history illustration and fantasy creates a rich world that is totally believable.
Another artist who I was lucky enough to work within my designer days was Luis Rey, who specializes in dinosaur art. The energy and movement, not to mention the colour palette he uses, was an inspiration. It made me look at what I was doing and try new approaches rather than always going with the norm.
So many of my students connect with comic books. It’s really cool to know comic books played a role in your development as an illustrator and a reader. I can’t wait to share this interview with my students. What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I enjoy the colouring stage but my favourite part is doing the initial sketches, coming up with ideas for the characters, their expressions, their poses; that’s the real fun part for me. When I am developing a character, my mind is working overtime giving them a whole back story like why they look like they do and if they could talk how they would sound, things like that. It helps me bring the character to life.
You did a great job of bringing The Pencil Eater to life too, Steve. When I first saw your sketches, I was amazed. He looked exactly how I pictured him. I still have no idea how you were able to do that. I have heard that there are an incredible 100 or more types of green. What’s your favourite colour to use in your work and why?
Depending on what I am doing I might favor a certain colour to create the mood eg. for a sunny, cheerful piece I may use yellows and oranges and for a night or shadowy image I would choose blues and purples, so I can’t really pick a favourite.
Does living in Australia influence your work? If you could work anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I don’t think living in Australia influences my work as such but I think the area where I live has certainly played a part in me being able to create my work. I live in a very peaceful little town in the country, surrounded by forest and nature. If I had to choose somewhere else to work from, Yosemite National Park would do me fine. A nice cabin in the woods, with an internet connection of course!
Can you share some details about your creative workspace with us and talk us through what your typical day at work there consists of?
Hmmm a typical day… is there such a thing? Depending on what I am working on or what stage the book is at, it will vary, but a day may go something like this: coffee, food, check emails and do my admin, which can sometimes take a large part of the day, especially if I am uploading the digital files to the publisher. Next, coffee. Then it’s out to my studio to do the fun part of my job. It may be in front of the Mac digitally colouring my scanned in art or working at the drawing board, sketching or planning out the illustration for the next book. Once I get in the studio time just flies and can go into the small hours, only coming up for air for
food and coffee breaks.
What is the most bizarre thing you have ever been asked to draw by someone?
You mean apart from a fuzzy purple thing that eats pencils? I’ve not been asked to draw too many bizarre things, but some of the story ideas I’ve received have been a bit out there. But one bizarre thing in particular that springs to mind was an animated fire hydrant.
I know illustrating THE PENCIL EATER was pretty great 😉 but what would be your ultimate dream project?
I’ve been lucky enough to have one of my stories accepted for publication, doing both story and illustration which has been a dream of mine for some time. So that is a dream project. I also would love to have one of my characters made into an animated movie. I wouldn’t want to do the animation, the guys that do that are amazingly talented and I wouldn’t know where to begin, but I would love to be involved in the creative process of making it. Oh and illustrating Pencil Eater 2 of
Congratulations on the accepted story. So exciting! I can’t wait to read it and am so excited about working on the Pencil Eater 2 with you. What is the most useful piece of advice you could give to a budding artist/aspiring illustrator out there?
DRAW DRAW DRAW…simple. Draw what you love and be yourself with it. It’s not an easy road to getting your art chosen for a project, but when you finally have your work published and someone says ‘wow I really like that picture you did’ it’s a real buzz, so keep plugging away at your art and don’t give up.
Last, but certainly not least, tell me 3 fun facts about yourself.