Website/social media: http://stejdesigns.wixsite.com/mysite @SteJDesigns
Tell me a little about yourself: Hi I live near the vibrant City of Leeds in the UK with my partner Vicky and little girl Rosanna, I also live very close to the countryside which we all love to explore whenever we can. There are lots of arty people in my family and I naturally had a love of drawing from an early age, inspired by comic books and Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons. I’ve worked in the creative industry for over 10 years mainly working in greetings cards (with a highlight being illustrating a range of Star Wars cards) and only recently had the pleasure of illustrating childrens books. I like to keep up to date with the latest cartoons and children’s books, and adapt my style by introducing elements from new sources of inspiration. When I’m not illustrating I like spending time with my family and friends, music, films, video games, walks in the countryside and attempting to play guitar.
How long have you been illustrating books? It’s been about a year and a half, I remember because that’s the age of my daughter and I was first asked to illustrate the Super Happy Party Bears a week before she was due to be born (it was a very busy time in our household) so far there’s been four Super Happy Party Bears books published and four more due out pretty soon so it’s all happened very fast but it’s been a really fun experience and I love working in this industry.
How did you become a book illustrator? iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s saw some of my work and contacted my illustration agent at Advocate Art who asked me if I’d like to be involved in the Super Happy Party Bears books. The piece of artwork I think they particularly liked was originally from a page in a calendar I illustrated which was very in tune with what they were looking for.
How do authors pick their illustrators? In this case it was iMPRINT Macmillan Publisher’s who came up with the idea for Super Happy Party Bears then they contacted Marcie Colleen to write the books and me to illustrate them, it’s been a team effort.
How do you know how to illustrate a story?For the Super Happy Party Bears I was originally given notes on the story outline, characters and setting and then drew sketches of how I thought the characters should look, I thought to have the party bears look as colorful and fun as possible like a rainbow and the grumpy woods towns people to be more drab colors but still keep all the characters looking different from each other so they are instantly recognizable, this then partly influenced how the books were written by Marcie. From that point on for each new book I get a list of characters, objects, scenery then draw everything separately so that there is a library of images then the artists at iMPRINT put everything together with the words and they design how everything goes together on the pages.
Do you have a favorite book you have illustrated? My favorite Super Happy Party Bears book so far is ‘Going Nuts’ as I like the Goonies style adventure Marcie has written and the Chipmunk cops, I also really enjoyed drawing the punk characters in Bat to the Bone which is due out this August.
Do you illustrate by hand or by computer? I do a bit of both, I usually draw everything in my sketch book first then redraw the characters in color on computer.