We’re delighted to announce that the wonderful Hannah Hutchings will be illustrating our first full book! She’s been hard at work for the last couple of weeks doodling away and working out just how the finished book is going to look and feel. She took a break from turning children’s ideas into amazing illustrations to answer a few questions about herself…
Hey Hannah! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Hannah and I live in a teensy house in a little village near Cambridge, where I can usually be found drawing, painting, sewing or maybe just drinking tea with my nose in a good book! Unfortunately, I have to have a ‘proper job’ too, to pay those boring bills, so I spend my mornings working as a Teaching Assistant in a lovely primary school.
Before that, I worked in a hospital as the Play Assistant on a pediatric ward. This often involved me helping children to make fairy wands, pirate swords and all manner of masks and models, and I often ended up elbow-deep in glitter and paint! It inspired me to go and do a Masters in Children’s Book Illustration, which taught me lots of new techniques and ideas.
When I am not at work or being creative, I’m probably out sailing in my little green dinghy. I have been sailing since I was 7 years old and am now a dinghy sailing instructor.
What’s your experience with foreign languages been like?
I often say that if I hadn’t followed a creative arts path, I would probably have ended up doing something involving languages. I almost took a French A-level but decided to do Textile Design instead. I do sometimes wish I could have learnt a little more French, though!
I did, however, continue to study German to A-level, which I really enjoyed. I have family connections to the country, so I have grown up with elements of the language and culture around me and have visited the country often.
Now, working as a Teaching Assistant, I am enjoying being ‘re-acquainted’ with some of my French, as the children in our class develop their own French language skills.
What else have you worked on in the past?
I am usually working on a few small illustration projects, ranging from wedding stationary and birthday gifts to pamphlets and posters.
I think the project I am most pleased to have been involved with was some work that I did for Cbeebies, who asked me to create the artwork for their online game, which ran alongside the Katie Morag, children’s TV drama series.
Why are you excited about working on this project?
I am excited to be included in a project that promotes language learning in such a creative way. I also love hearing all about the ideas that children have been providing for the storyline- I’ve already drawn a dinosaur wearing shoes and have heard that a pink cow might be involved too. It all sounds fabulously imaginative- who wouldn’t want to illustrate those characters?!
How do you make your amazing artwork?
I enjoying working in many different media and in varying ways, but for this project I have been working mostly digitally. The first step though, is drawing, and redrawing my characters in pencil.
I use a light box and ink pen to work up these sketches into more refined drawings, before scanning them into my computer, where I can then add colour to them digitally.
What’s your routine when it comes to drawing?
I usually start a project by doodling ideas and notes in pencil in my sketch book, probably curled up on the sofa with the radio on and tea and biscuits to hand. Once I have got some strong ideas down in pencil, I then move to my desk (which is very messy!) to refine my drawings and work at my computer.
Lots of the characters you’re drawing were dreamt up by children. What advice would you give to any other little artists?
Try to make your character or story unique and exciting. Perhaps use something that you know lots about, and you are interested in, but give it a twist!
Think about the small details that help to make your character or place believable. For example, I might decide that a character I am drawing or describing will wear a coat… but what colour and pattern is this coat? Does the coat have cuffs, buttons and pockets? What’s in those pockets? These little things can help us learn so much about a character, and make them more special and convincing.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- I do, all the time! Draw the same thing again and again until you are really happy. Sometimes I draw something a few times, then leave it for a few hours or even a day and then come back and look at it again, with a fresh view and new ideas.
Oh and, most importantly, enjoy yourself…have fun! Let your imagination run wild!
WE’RE OUT TO START A LANGUAGE LEARNING REVOLUTION. WILL YOU JOIN US?
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