Our Interview for June is with Bristol based Illustrator Miriam Latimer.
Miriam illustrates Children's Books and had great success with her editorial work, working in various magazines. We find out about her juggling the creative process with her family life and how that lead her to the successful career she has now.
Q: Can you tell us about your Artistic background/education?
I have always loved drawing from a young age. During my Art Foundation year at Middlesex University, I found my way into Illustration. I went on to do a degree in Illustration at U.W.E in Bristol where I specialised in children's books. My final year exhibition led to my first book contract with Hodder Children's Books.
I have been Illustrating children's books ever since (with editorial illustration on the side). I decreased my work load when my kids were young, and recently took time off to support a refugee family, but now I'm illustrating full time again. It has made me realise how much I love my job.
Q. You are a successful illustrator and we think your work has a fantastic sense of humour! How did you develop your style?
Thanks. I think I developed my style at University. I would go into Uni five days a week and draw all day. I had great tutors at Uni and I have worked with some great Editors who have helped me develop my work too. My agent 'Plum Pudding Illustration' are also brilliant at giving me directions for my style.
I love colour, so my Illustrations have always been super colourful. And I strive to make my illustrations playful. I try to add in detail, so that as the child looks at the illustrations, they notice other things that are going on which are not included in the text. For some reason I have always drawn my characters with large heads and far apart eyes. It just seems to be what comes out of my hand.
Q. Do you work in a studio or from home?
I work in one half of our spare room at home at the moment. My dream would be to have a studio in the garden, or to work in a studio with other artists and Illustrators, where I wouldn't have to worry about splashing paint around.
Q. Who are your Art Influencers? Inspirations?
Over the years I have been inspired by many people. From famous artists like Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Amedeo Modigliani, to other Illustrators like Oliver Jeffers (I like his Illustrations and his paintings), Anne Herbauts, Delphine Durand, Alice Melvin, Emily Gravett, Marta Altes. I seem to gravitate towards European Illustrators. If we are on holiday in Europe I normally hunt out a bookshop and browse through the Children's Book section to get some inspiration.
At the moment I am also slightly in awe of Grayson Perry.
Q. What helps get you in "the zone" to create your work, music? out in nature? quiet?
I normally get inspiration from being out and about. I might see something that I want to draw, or hear someone say something that gives me an idea. But back in my studio I like to have talking in the background. Perhaps some radio or a podcast or even a mindless tv programme playing in the background whilst I work.
I also have a quote on my wall which helps inspire me. "You are not a slave to reality, you are an interpreter".
It's something one of the illustrators who ran 'The Good Ship Illustration' course I did last year said, and it struck a chord.
Q. Do you keep a sketchbook? How often do you use it and do you travel with it?
I used to take a sketchbook with me where ever I went, and try and do a quick sketch every day. I found that hard to continue whilst my kids were young, but I am just getting back into it. My handbag is now quite heavy as it has one A4 and one A5 sketchbook
in it at all times.
Q. What is the starting point for your creative process?
My work starts in a sketchbook with thumbnail drawings and character sketches done in pencil , and then I will move onto a large stretched piece of paper, where I will pencil out my character ideas or compositions and then try out different colour combinations before I start on the finished piece.
Q. What technique do you prefer to use?
I mostly use Acrylic paint applied with brushes, but I'm also always experimenting with collage, coloured pencils
and pastels to add detail.
Q. What are your most important artists tools?
I love Pro Arte Acrylix brushes, and I use cotton wool ear buds to help apply small amounts of pastels.
Q What are your favourite materials?
Q. What are you currently working on?
I am working on a new book idea at the moment. The story is written, I just have to finish off a few more Character studies and one more painted final image before I send it to my agent to see if they can bring a publisher on board.
Q. Where can we see more of your work online or in person?
You can look at my Instagram: miriamlatimerillustrator
Or my facebook page: Miriam Latimer
Or look in your local bookshop or online bookshops for my books.
I am currently updating my website (which hasn't changed for about 15 years) so hopefully that will be up and running before too long.