As part of the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge, we will be running a series of blogs featuring successful illustrators - to offer advice and inspiration and help budding illustrators learn from the best in the 'biz'.
Henry Smith is the illustrator of The Invisible Tree series, including Love, Joy and Patience which features unique illustrations all made from recycled materials!
When Henry isn't filling the studio with his 'refined' taste in music, he's busily working away as Taste's managing director.
Equipped with an organic aesthetic and a love of excellence, Henry oversees all of Taste's work, and ensures that he and his team are constantly immersed in creative conceptualisation, production and delivery.
He's a hands-on fellow, with plenty of artistic gusto and has won awards that testify to this. His love for cinematography and animation has won him an ACS Award (Australian Cinematographers Society) and an AEAF Award (Australian Effects & Animation Awards), along with a few other accolades in the illustration, editing and storytelling fields – but he's not one to go on and on.
As you can tell, Henry's got a lot of neat skills. Some others worthy of note are magic tricks and designing tree-houses.
Question 1: When did you start illustrating and what was the first book you ever illustrated?
I was approached by an author to illustrate her upcoming series in 2010, when her husband saw some of my drawings for an animated cartoon. But I have been using my hands to draw since I was old enough to hold on to a pencil!
Question 2: What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?
The most challenging part is just to start; the curse of the blank canvas. We can often be too scared to make a mistake that we don't know where to start. I love to just jump in and start making.
Question 3: What is your favourite part about being an illustrator?
I like to create a visual artwork that inspires young minds to create & make things. I was fortunate enough to have a high school art teacher for a Mum. So when we were at home, we were always making things from stuff we could find around the house; coloured paper, cardboard rolls & my favourite toy; a hot glue gun! I get so much satisfaction when I hear about kids seeing my collage-style pictures and being inspired to create their own.
Question 4: When given a story to illustrate, what is the first thing you do to get your ideas flowing?
Write. Illustrations aren't just pictures; they tell stories. I hope that my work shares a story that can be shared without even reading the words. I like to write my ideas for a books' illustrations down on paper and see how the pictures flow.
Question 5: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding illustrator, what would it be?
Stay curious. Curiosity is squeezed out of us when we are told to grow up. The world tells us that to fit in we need to talk a certain way, dress a certain way, drive a certain car. But when we are kids, we are curious & explore just because we can. If you can tap back in to that, you will create wonderful stories.