4 Sep 2018 |
Meet the Illustrator
As we work with some amazing illustrators on our books we wanted to find out more about the illustration process, so we caught up with Be More Sloth illustrator Caroline Buzio and asked her about what made her decide to become an illustrator and find out how she starts building a character and imagery when she's working on a project.
What was the first illustration you ever drew/made?
My mom tells me that I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil so it’s hard to say which one was my first! I still love one particular drawing I did of “Edward Scissor Hands” when I was 4 years old.
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator and how did you get started?
I’m not sure there was one particular moment when I decided to do it… I had studied Communication Design in Portugal, with a brief detour to Hungary to study animation for a year. Once I finished my studies I got an internship as an animator in Berlin and I honestly thought that would be my future. After that internship I decided to start on my own as a freelancer and with all the free time (hoping and waiting to get some client work) I started doing illustrations for fun. Those actually led to other jobs and clients and before I knew it I was a freelance illustrator! That was 5 years ago.
Do you do any other crafts?
Oh yes, I love learning all sorts of new techniques and exploring different materials. I recently had a solo exhibition and some of the artworks included were embroideries, a punch needle rug, and my very first ceramic sculpture.
If you were an animal what would you be and why?
I’d love to reply something exotic and obscure, but I’m pretty sure I’d just be a house cat. They are independent, pampered, sleep a lot in the sun, and manage to be annoying in a cute way to their fellow housemates… sounds like a good life to me!
Who are your illustrator influencers or idols?
Oh there are so many it would be hard for me to name them all. If I had to choose three, I would choose Matisse for his colours, The Provensens for their children’s books and use of white space, and Elizabeth Hawes for her designs and progressive way of thinking.
What are your favourite materials to use?
I honestly love drawing and illustrating digitally because it is a process that keeps up with the speed of my thoughts… so when I’m playing around with colours and compositions, I don’t have to first mix a colour to try it out. I just think of it and choose it right away. If I want to do something more analogue or introduce some brush texture into my illustrations then gouache is my go-to medium.
Which illustration are you most proud of?
The ‘Couple in Bed’ for sure. It was one of the illustrations I did just for fun when I started freelancing and had way too much time in my hands. I still remember those butterflies in my stomach sort of feeling while doing it… because I was having fun, and most of all I was proud of the way it was going. I think it was also this one that might have made me feel like I could definitely be a professional illustrator.
Best thing about being freelance?
Being able to work from other places! I was actually in Thailand (escaping the German winter) while I was illustrating Be More Sloth. It is also crucial to me to be able to adapt my schedule around my health… after a year where I was having an average of 9 migraines per month, it was good to know I could organise my time to accommodate that.
Do you share any similarities or traits with a sloth?
I hope so! I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic and over achiever, but lately I’ve been enjoying more ‘smelling the flowers’ time – trying to allow myself to take things easy and enjoy the moment.
Who should we be following on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / blogs?
I’m warning you now, this will be a long list! My preferred social media platform is Instagram, so here are a bunch of amazing (and mostly female) artists that I follow:
I’m probably forgetting a lot of other amazing people!
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a creative career?
Just enjoy the process and get your work out there as much as possible. Stay curious, explore different materials and processes and learn from other artists. And most importantly be a kind human (this also applies to life in general).
No concrete plans yet… but I hope to one day paint a mural and also to write and illustrate my own children’s book.
The first step in my process is always research. I read the brief carefully, gather images for reference (in this case lots and lots of sloth images and videos) and do a few drawings based on those references just to get myself accustomed to the subject and the environment I’ll be representing.
The second step is doing quick thumbnail sized sketches… they really are tiny! They are done to get ideas down on paper and quickly figure out composition. What you see here is a page of the swimming sloth sketches.
The third step is selecting the rough sketches I like and importing them into Photoshop. Using the rough thumbnail sketch as a guideline, I then redraw the sketch at the correct size, with all the details that the final picture will contain. A lot can still change at this point. [INSERT 02-step.jpg]
The fourth step (after taking into account the feedback that comes from the client and doing any necessary changes) is figuring out colours. I take one of the sketches and allow myself time to play around with it. I keep it rough and try out several different colour combinations until I find something that excites me and that I feel reflects the tone of the book. I was actually working from Thailand while illustrating this book, so the colours were definitely inspired by my surroundings and all the tropical plants around.
I might also experiment with hand-painted textures to make it look less digital (like the stripy texture in the sky and on the tree you see here)
The fifth step is then trying to apply this colour scheme to the entire book. I like using limited colours and I try not to add too many new colours to each illustration so that the entire look is cohesive. Sometimes that rule has to be broken, so instead I just make sure that the illustrations still work together side by side. A good example of this colour difference is the final version of the swimming sloth compared to an illustration where the sloth is high up in the trees.
And that’s it! From then on I listen to some podcasts, get into the flow, and paint away (with the occasional break for a dip in the sea in the case of this project… oh how I miss Thailand!)