getting to know me!
Why Hello there!
Thank you so much for visiting my site!
My name is Zoe, and I am an illustrator, graphic designer and Formatter based in the historic county of Nottinghamshire in the UK. It rains a lot, but we do have a big tree nearby so it’s all good!
I’d love to say I started drawing really young, but of course I did, everyone does! So I don’t usually count the years of getting more paint on my face than the paper or when I used to spend more time drawing a character profile drawing than actually describing them in English Class. The first time I realised what I wanted to do for a living was when I was 16. I’ve always loved telling stories, whether it was creative writing in English or a live performance in Theatre Studies, I was always the first in line when stories were told. I have even been on stage wearing a beard! (No, I will not show pics as proof, just trust me on this). When I was looking at Universities, my teacher at the time mentioned how an illustration course would be perfect for me, and the rest is history!
“But why did you have to pick THESE ones??”
-Quote from Zoe’s Mum
I attended the University of Lincoln from 2009 until 2012, where I graduated with a degree in illustration. I absolutely loved my studies, regularly staying late in the studios drinking tea and occasionally drawing.
Since then I have accumulated a husband (yes, someone actually puts up with the random scraps of paper laying around my house) lots of books, a few too many swords, and hundreds of Photoshop brushes!
I am passionate about bringing your story to life, and I love each and every book I work on. I will always go the extra mile to help you become a success. I honestly get so excited whenever I see children reading the books that I have illustrated, I feel so lucky to be working a job that I get so stupidly excited for.
Other than drawing, my main hobbies are binge-watching Netflix until I fall to sleep, singing along to Hamilton, quoting Hamilton whenever someone says “Legacy”, gaming on the PS4, reading, and doing my makeup.
As you can see from my beautiful pictures to the right, I had a wonderfully fun childhood and I have an amazing family. They’ve always supported me in everything I’ve done (even when that was going to University for Art… I mean, who does that right?)
So thank you, to all of the authors out there who have let me be a part of your journey. You are seriously adding to my book collection though!
“But why did you have to pick THESE ones??”
-Quote from Zoe’s Mum
Let me tell you my secrets…
Any advice for illustration students?
My main piece of advice is to practice drawing as often as you can. It takes time to find your style and become an expert with your chosen medium. Draw anything you feel like as often as you can, even if it’s a simple study of a cup, it’ll keep your imagination flowing and improve your skill.
I wouldn’t recommend taking on free projects, or projects where you’ll be getting a portion of profits. An illustration can take a long time to complete, and giving away your time like that can lead to you feeling down about your artwork. (trust me, I know what this is like!) Don’t be afraid to value your time and your art.
What Software do you use?
I draw all of my sketches by hand and then scan them into my computer where I use the Adobe Suite. I primarily use Photoshop for my artwork, and love playing with the textured brushes to make my illustrations look quirky and full of character! I also use hand-drawn patterns, layers of textures, and lighting to create my pieces.
I also use InDesign to put together book and page layouts for my authors for a professional and high-quality design.
What made you want to become an illustrator?
I have always loved drawing, and I loved reading and telling stories, so my two passions fit together really well! My art teacher at school recommended that I look into doing an illustration course and since then I haven’t looked back.
What training or education do you have? Is a degree in art necessary?
I have a degree in illustration from the University of Lincoln where I studied for 3 years. It is a difficult question to answer about whether this step is necessary. At the end of the day, your skill comes from within you and from hours upon hours of practising, getting it wrong and trying again! Completing a course such as a degree or an online course helps you to interpret your brief in a more creative and interesting way, as well as teaching you the ability to step away from your work and look at it constructively. I honestly don’t know if I would be where I am today without the knowledge I got from my course.
If you are just starting out and looking for some top tips, I’d be more than happy to have a chat with you to give some recommendations. I would definitely suggest looking into Character Design Quarterly. I have a subscription to this myself, and I absolutely LOVE the magazines.
Which artist has influences you the most?
I have been inspired by so many artists using many different mediums! I love the work of Shaun Tan, Oliver Jeffers, Tim Burton, and Victoria Frances to name just a few! I also take a lot of inspiration for the world around me, from films, games, tv, nature, and most importantly my amazingly fantastic awesome husband. (He wrote the last bit, not too sure I agree)
What's Your Favourite Book?
Honestly, I have so many books it’s impossible to pick a favourite! I absolutely ADORE reading many different YA books including Infernal Devices, The Selection, The Eve of Man and The Cruel Prince. One of my favourite books growing up was “Happy Birthday Pumpkin and Beanpole”. I used to read it with my younger sister all the time, we used to try and remember what each of their presents were!
What project have you worked on that made you improve your skills as an artist?
I am very lucky to be able to work with so many talented authors whose ideas inspire me and constantly push me to improve my work. Every single project that I work on has helped me to develop my skill as an artist, and I believe that that is one of the most amazing things about this as a career.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO TO CONTINUE TO GROW AND PUSH YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST TODAY?
I love taking part in online design challenges (when I have some time) such as the Character Design Challenge on Facebook as well as inktober. I think the important thing is to always try something new, if you’re not good at drawing dogs, then draw lots of dogs until you get the hang of it! (plus, you get to look at pictures of dogs!).
HOW CAN I COMMISSION AN ILLUSTRATION?
HOW LONG DO YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS TAKE?
Illustration times can vary depending on the size of the image, amount of detail and even what other projects I may have on at the time. It usually takes me about 8 hours to digitally illustrate something detailed with a background. For a character design, it’s closer to around 5 hours.