Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Illustrator - Joel Stewart

Last week we featured Michael Rosen for the book Red Ted and the Lost Things and this week we have the pleasure to introduce the illustrator, Joel Stewart. His illustrations are beautifully whimsical.

When did you begin drawing?

I drew from childhood, though in a calm sort of way. I didn't go in for dragons firing lasers and rockets etc, which I think a lot of little boys do. My father still has some insects and wildlife drawings that I'd copied when very little. The thing is, I didn't give up. I don't really remember drawing wildly much before I was ten or eleven, but a lot of people in my family drew, and my grandfather made a living from it all his life, so I never had the all too common idea that it was just a childish thing to do.

What inspires you everyday?

Wow, big question. I think, like everyone, some days nothing does! But in terms of drawing there's just something about the activity that expresses things, and allows me to look at things, in a way that makes me happy. But so many things are inspiring, from all kinds of art and music that I tend to live in a permanent state of distraction. In some ways the times when you aren't inspired, and just get on with finishing what you started when you were, are just as useful.

What gave you the idea for the artistic style for "Red Ted and the Lost Things"?

Mostly my own sketches and paintings. I'd found that this particular shade of indian red had the interesting effect of giving a kind of warm, slightly nostalgic feeling like sepia, but the nostalgia (and that isn't the right word) wasn't specific to a time period, so it could feel contemporary at the same time. Then I also realized that doing backgrounds in a muted range of colours like that allowed me to put in loads of detail, which you need in a lost property office, or to give the feel of a real city, but keep focus on the central characters, who are more richly coloured. In a way I wish I hadn't let the texture of the backgrounds get so rough, because I think it distracts a little, but otherwise I think those ideas came together quite well.

What was the last thing you lost?

Actually, it was my favourite pencil, which I bought in Florence. I managed to replace it with one the same, but then I decided that I ought not to have a favourite pencil anymore because it's too annoying when you lose it.

Have you found it?

Nope. I think it's buried somewhere in a very messy and dusty music recording studio in North London.

Did you have a favorite Teddy Bear as a child? Did it have a name?

Badgie. He's a Badger Glove puppet, but I treated him like a Teddy Bear, and I still have him.

What advice do you have for parents who want to encourage drawing?

The most important thing probably is not to DIScourage it. Otherwise exposure is the best thing. Just to be around as many different kinds as possible, preferably without discrimination. I loved awful cartoons and comics as a child, as well as things that are still important to me now (including cartoons and comics of a slightly higher caliber), and they all fed my desire to continue. My parents were brilliant at not telling one thing was better than another. I imagine I might not be so good at being unbiased.

What can you tell children who have a passion for art?

That drawing (all sorts) is important. They'll already know it. But it can't harm to say it a few times

Teach Well: Do not discourage a child who has a desire or gift to draw. In fact, feed the desire to continue.

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