Write Links is proud to present ... our logo created by illustrator Tanya Hempson!
A few months ago we held a competition for a Write Links logo design and from the start Tanya’s design was a clear favourite.
As well as the fabulous design we were also impressed with Tanya’s professional approach and work ethic and when you read out interview with Tanya you will be able to see why. Write Links is privileged to have Tanya as a member.
Tanya has been a member of Write Links for almost a year and from the start I have loved her quirky style and apparent ease of creating a diverse range of illustrations, but I also know how much hard work and dedication are behind these illustrations.
Tanya displayed her portfolio at the Sydney SCBWI conference this year and we were able to share a few cups of tea and glasses of wine over the days and nights of the conference.
Tanya's initial sketches are done quickly, here I am having a cup coffee, next minute there is another completed sketch. And it seems no one on Sydney’s public transport was save, several commuters ended up as caricatures in her ever present sketchbook.
On to the interview ...
How did you get into illustration?
Illustrating has always been a part of my life, although mine is a story like many others: after studying design and illustration twenty years ago, I decided to take a 'respectable' job outside of the creative industries. This lead me from one un-creative job to another for about 15 years. During this time I had continued to draw and sketch and paint on the side.
I retrained ten years ago as a 3D artist, and it was then that my passion for 2D illustration was really explored. I worked as a 3D games artist for eight years, before taking time out to focus my skills. I started picking up work as a graphic designer and illustrator three years ago. Ultimately, I feel like I've come full circle working creatively ...
What is it that you love about illustration and keeps you going?
Every time I hear a word, or someone tells me a story, or incident, I can't help but think in pictures. What were the characters like, what was the situation that lead this incident to occur. Was it funny, hilarious, sad or serious... this is what keeps me going.
Each scenario offers me the opportunity to explore characters, events, environments and most importantly techniques. Of course, like many illustrators, having my illustrations be part of something bigger - a book, a campaign, a movie - is the thing that really keeps me going.
But in terms of 'love', every day I get to open a box of paints, pick up a pencil, turn on a computer and share my passion for creativity. That's pretty fantastic and motivating.
Have you got any tips for aspiring illustrators?
First tip, there is no time like the present. Don't stop to question your abilities, and don't wait 20 years to pursue your dreams! I keep being drawn back to working for myself, collaborating with creatives and wanting to draw pictures all day: it's what I aspire to.
Second, practice, practice, practice. Every day. Without fail... also think about how to explore; I try different styles and techniques each day, or for a series of days, this also help keep me motivated.
Third, get involved. Join challenges on-line. (I'm part of the daily challenge,– Doodle Day May, and a weekly challenge, the 52-week illustration challenge), meet people by joining groups and associations. And I suppose with that, don't be shy. And certainly don’t be shy about your work. Which leads me to the final point...
Fourth, feel passion, but also show conviction with your work. These things take time and perseverance, so look at your work subjectively. Take on board what people say: if it's good, it's good. Yes, it could be better, but accept the compliment and move on. The same could be said about if your work is not up to scratch; accept that, and through asking and experimenting, find out what could be improved on, and persevere!
What is your favourite art medium at the moment?
At the moment I'm working with a lovely black ink and washes, which I love. On the challenges I mentioned above, I've been working with watercolour and seeing how I can push these digitally...
What keeps you inspired creatively?
Looking at how my work has improved. Seeking out creative people, groups and associations to share the journey with. What else: movies, books, my son and his great adventures, being inquisitive and really just allowing myself to love the craft of 'making'.
Life is indeed very busy, but I am not without paper and pens and pencils wherever I am. Creatively, just being able to pick up a book and draw anywhere has not only kept me going, but has turned on a creative light I'm hoping will just get brighter in future.
Who are some author and/ or illustrators you admire?
This is a really long list. At the moment, my firm 'local' favourites are Bruce Whatley, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, Sarah Davis, Peter Carnavas and Gus Gordon. Internationally, Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak, and many more on the children's book markets. I'm not limiting my admirations here – illustrators such as Jeremy Fish, J.C. Leyendecker and Lori Early are illustrators whose work I could stare at for hours. Authors – every day I get to read two books with my son.... this keeps me loving the children's authors, from A.A Milne to Andrew Griffiths.
Are you interested in writing as well as illustrating?
This comes up a fair bit actually, and in a sense I think it would be great to be able to do both. But my focus clearly lies at the moment in illustrating. I have great respect for authors and so working with them would probably be best, rather than trying to write.
What would be your dream project?
I enjoy collaborating, so it is safe to say, working with authors, editors or clients in general has been a rewarding experience to date... I do enjoy the concepts of free rein on a project, but I find working within constraints as creatively as possible more fun. Of course my dream project would hopefully include oodles of money, painting and drawing every day in a cabana overlooking the ocean. Running workshops and working in book illustration.
Ah, that does sound like a dream! Thanks for the interview, Tanya, and may all your dream come true.
Interview by Yvonne Mes