Following on from our interview with Jenny Blackford yesterday, we are very pleased to bring you today an interview with Kristin Devine, who created the fabulous cover and internal illustrations of Fil and Harry. As with Jenny’s interview, it was conducted by Sharnee Rawson.
The cover and illustrations for Fil and Harry are fantastic. What’s your creative process when you undertake a new project?
Thanks! While my individual artworks usually start with a very clear mental image, illustrations usually start with a combination of mind maps and sketches – lots of key words and very quick sketches. Illustrations have to stand well on their own as well as interact with both the text and other pictures within the book, so I generally like to spend some time working out the pacing and balance of the images, combining or separating ideas etc. before I start creating each illustration. I also like to spend some time sketching and developing the visual appearance of the main characters.
Fil and Harry is your first time illustrating a book. What techniques and resources did you use? Were they different from your usual routine?
A little different. The illustrations for Fil and Harry were created digitally, which means that I draw with a digital pencil on digital paper and with pixels instead of pigments. I have been creating an increasing number of illustrations this way over the past year as it is such a versatile medium and is well suited to the digital marketplace. I also use digital mannequins instead of the traditional little wooden ones – they are much more adaptable and hold their poses much better!
My more usual approach when beginning any new work is to start with graphite pencils on paper. The almost meditative process of rendering an image in graphite makes it one of my favourite mediums.
How did you get into art and illustration? Is it something you have always done?
Art is something I have always done, I remember getting up as a small child at the crack of dawn to start drawing! Illustration is a slightly newer endeavour for me but still one which I have been pursuing for several years now.
You have a website that showcases various styles, particularly black and white drawings. How would you describe your art in three words?
Inspired by nature. My inherent inclination is towards realism and I am intrigued by the natural world, predispositions which meet, well, naturally, in natural history illustration, something I really enjoy and would like to do more of. That being said, I also enjoy taking nature as a starting point and then stretching out the possibilities – examining familiar things from unexpected angles, creating anatomically plausible new creatures, blurring the boundaries between apparently disparate objects and concepts. Nature offers such diversity, so many starting points, so many essential truths that the possibilities for reworking, or reconsidering them, are endless. Even when I am doing something relatively stylised (such as the illustrations for Fil and Harry) I always start with nature, for example with basic human anatomy when designing characters.
What’s next for your career after Fil and Harry? Any new and exciting projects?
I am working on my first original picture book as an author-illustrator – a project which has been ongoing for several years now! It is a fantasy story but style-wise it again has its roots firmly planted in the natural world.