A big fan and enthusiast of her beautiful artistry, I am excited to interview Thea, children’s illustrator, skilled artist and graphic designer extraordinaire! Catching her lovely art posts on Twitter, I always look forward to her latest creation showcasing her magical, delightful style and expertise in creating captivating fairy tale art. Thea’s gorgeous illustrations transport their audience into a make belief world charming and intriguing the imagination with dazzling color, textures, light and charm.
Personally, I admire and seek out artists whose work can evoke such lively fantasy and whimsical stories all on it’s own. Take a glimpse through her fantastic gallery as each art piece easily engages and presents itself with it’s own little story, wrapping around the details, brushing with fables, and flowing with the beauty and delicacy of each piece.
Praising her collaboration group Pinch Punch Post, I applaud the time and energy in managing a multi-talented supportive group of artists all showcasing a wealth of all imaginative and creative themed imagery. Thea offers every level of artist an engaging platform to highlight their hard work and valuable opportunity to promote and share current artistic abilities. More on that in a bit, let’s dive right into the interview and get to know Thea on a more personable level.
As well as working as a freelance illustrator, I work as a graphic designer in a very dynamic, creative role that compliments my life as an illustrator perfectly.
My illustration style incorporates mixed media. I start with a sketch. I used to re-draw this over and over again to get “right” but I have more recently found it is better to try and retain as much of the energy in the original sketch by taking the rough straight to computer.
I have a library full of textures in a range of mediums that I’ve created to use in my illustrations. Generally I pull the elements together in Photoshop.
Occasionally, for commissions, exhibitions or pleasure, I ditch the computer altogether and work on canvas.
As far as tools are concerned, I use two contrasting pencils, generally b with 4b or similar, good quality paint brushes, sharp pencil crayons, Caran d’Ache oil pastels, rubber-tip paint brushes for making some great textures in acrylics and an old digital Canon SLR that I’m looking forward to upgrading! In Photoshop it has taken me a long time to find particular brushes I like working with. I think this comes down to personal taste and nothing but trial and error will gain you those trusty favourites. Several that I like are from Kyle T Webster’s collection of Photoshop brushes.
My style naturally evolves with the constant absorption of the amazing illustration that’s out there. Saying that, I have an awareness of the direction in which I’d like to take my work and I’m striving towards achieving that satisfying balance and harmony that I think must drive every illustrator to want to continue to improve. If I could really nail one aspect of my work at the moment, it would be to capture that energy and looseness in the very first sketch and see it clearly in the final piece. I’m constantly trying to loosen up!
I have been lucky enough to witness many friends, not just illustrators, achieve their dreams and without doubt the common denominator is hard work! I don’t know what the average ratio for success from a degree course in illustration is but our Falmouth graduation class of 2001 is doing incredibly well!
I have been lucky enough to exhibit alongside some amazing artists as well as having some great tutors and mentors along the way.
I guess the process is fairly similar though. Lets take the Cheetah. This was done for #colour_collective. The colour theme was lemon yellow. This illustration was very quick and that tends to be common in the work that I’m pleased with. I think it goes back to capturing that initial energy and looseness in the first sketch.
I did the sketch very roughly in my sketchbook. I then scanned the sketch in to Photoshop. I used a couple of textures I had made using acrylic paint for the background then finished it off quite literally playing around with a range of Photoshop brushes. It probably took an hour.
I imagine a great deal of heart and work goes into this creative collaboration and supportive artist group which opens up the playing field to feature all levels of experience and artistry. So many times a new artist, or even an experienced one, may feel that they create something and yet no one seems to see it in such an overwhelming online platform such as Twitter. Disheartening at times, attempts to obtain views of art work to secure future work possibilities, can easily feel like small fish in an overwhelming ocean of amazing talent. This is a wonderful chance for artists who wish their work valued online and an opportunity to showcase their style and unique skills. Pinch Punch Post collaboration board is so welcoming and genuine because it gives an artist, no matter their level of experience or talent, a platform to not only be seen, but also be encouraged and supported. Simply fantastic.
I slowly discovered more daily or weekly illustration challenges on Twitter and was very keen to start one myself. I hadn’t seen any monthly challenges, although I’m sure they are out there, and this seemed a great idea for those wanting to contribute to an art challenge on a less frequent basis. The tag #pinchpunchpost derives from a traditional saying in the UK, “Pinch, punch, first of the month”, and the posts run on the first of each month. I’ve had some funny queries about the name, which must seem bizarre if you’re not familiar with the saying!
I decided on a creature theme. I thought it would be a great opportunity to build characters in portfolios. I try to tie the themes in with animal awareness days if possible. For example February 1st theme is a whale and on February 16th it’s World Whale Day.
The response has been amazing. As you say, the idea is that anyone can join in at any level and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of the challenge. We occasionally have children contributing to #pinchpunchpostjunior via their parents. It’s really wonderful to see artwork from children and I hope they are encouraged by the positive feedback they receive. They may even be lucky enough to get responses from practicing illustrators whose work they admire.
Thanks for sharing your story with us on CWG, Thea! CONNECT with Thea and the Pinch Punch Post collaboration art groups:
@TheaIllustrator, @pinchpunchpost, fb:theabakerillustration, fb:pinchpunchpost.