Meet IA's Lisa Stewart; on the energy and excitement of illustration.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Lisa Stewart

Website. Facebook. Instagram

Do you have an art practice outside of illustration?

I'm also a professional violinist

Who and what inspires your art and creativity?

Nature and animals inspire me. As do people and music. I love looking at other peoples illustrations and illustrators of yester years. I love books and talking books. Theatre and dance humans are amazing.

What excites you about illustration?

Oh everything! I love it when you get the story from the publisher or agent. Those first images you see in your mind are very exciting and sparks fly around and you can't stop thinking about the author's words and how to best honour them with your illustrations. That lasts until the day you hand them in. Also working with the amazing people at the publishers. The editors are very important, and so so wise. Also I respect and adore my agent who encourages me. 

What do you love illustrating?

Oh the first mark makings in sketchbooks, the feel of the pencil on paper. The thoughts whirling around and around in your head. How do I best illustrate this? Will I do the story justice? Is it ok? Is it good enough? Practise practise sketching, research, heart pounding a lot . Meetings with editor. Constructive criticism taken, open to ideas, open also to the fact that your first idea may change in the process. The storyboarding nerves.Then the nod to begin on final artwork. And then bliss!!

The paper chosen and brought, the hope that you've brought enough good paper for the pages that may not work and you need to redo!

Then adding colour. Completely absorbed, going for hours on end without realising the time flying by.

Then exhaustion but a happy exhaustion. The exhaustion helps you be less nervous when you hand in the final illustrations complete and ready to hand in.

What’s a typical day for you as an illustrator?

I alternate between being being a performing and practising violinist in Acacia Quartet, so I may be touring, traveling, recording, but I always have my sketchbooks on me and am always sketching ideas for the latest picture book, or writing story ideas. Traveling is a wonderful way to open the imagination. I will spend train trips listening to music and sketching or writing with the sound of the train on the tracks as my accompaniment.

On non music days I will begin the day sketching in notebooks, then when I feel I have enough material I will go to the big table top and put up sketches. The authors story. Create and stick storyboarding all around the room with washi tape (that's good as it doesn't wreck the walls - don't want the landlord unhappy).

If I'm in final weeks of illustrating a book, deadline approaching I like to work pretty much non-stop. I won't really be able to sleep as I will be so exciting and ‘on a roll’ or ‘in the zone’ as people say.

Do you regularly exhibit your work? Why or why not?

I have once some years ago and would love to again. It's a matter of organising it and I don't think to ask, or get to nervous to, but when offered love it. It's scary before hand, like being backstage before a concert, but once there it's wonderful and exciting. 

What are your thoughts on social networking and marketing yourself online as an artist? How has this helped you gain a following or given you opportunities?

I enjoy putting up sketches on Facebook and Instagram. It helps me to give me a sense of that I'm doing something. I think as an artist type or perhaps from my music background there is a strong sense of 'Have I done anything today? Have I practised my sketching?'. All the time I just see so much to improve with my illustrating and playing. I really love seeing what other illustrators are doing and I'm so inspired by them!

Given what you know now, do you have any advice for yourself in those early stages?

It will be ok. Just keep going! Perseverance!

Could you give some experience of roles with clients?

I'm grateful for having the most amazing agent who guides and encourages me.

Do you have any advice for illustrators interested in joining Illustrators Australia?

Join! Very important to have support and support others!

What’s your favourite weird colour (or weird paint shade) name?

Bumblebee yellow!

Curious to see more of Lisa Stewart's work? Check her Illustrators Australia profile out here.