Jonny Dud­dle

The award-win­ning artist talks pi­rates, pic­ture books and Pot­ter

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What does it take to make a liv­ing in chil­dren’s books?

You have to be open to a di­verse range of clients. Most il­lus­tra­tors work in book pub­lish­ing, ed­u­ca­tional pub­lish­ing, mag­a­zines, ad­ver­tis­ing and some­times games, film or tele­vi­sion. Many also do school work­shops, li­brary vis­its, book fes­ti­vals, lec­tur­ing and other pub­lic speak­ing about their work.

What’s the most sur­pris­ing part of the in­dus­try?

When my first book, The Pi­rate Cruncher, was pub­lished, the big­gest shock for me was hav­ing to read my book to chil­dren. All au­thors do it, and the first time you have to stand up in front of a cou­ple of hun­dred chil­dren and read your book – in a silly pi­rate voice – is frankly ter­ri­fy­ing.

How daunt­ing was it to paint the new Harry Pot­ter cov­ers?

Very. I orig­i­nally tried to turn it down: I’d never read the books and had only seen the first film, so felt like I was poorly qual­i­fied to cre­ate the art­work. In the end this helped, be­cause I had few pre­con­cep­tions of how things should look, and the re­sult­ing art was there­fore a very per­sonal re­sponse to the texts.

How did the cre­ative process com­pare to usual?

I vi­su­alised the Harry Pot­ter uni­verse as I read the books, with some tweak­ing based on feed­back from Blooms­bury and JK Rowl­ing. The process was the same as any other il­lus­tra­tion job, but there were a lot more words to read be­fore­hand and a mas­sive fan­base, with huge ex­pec­ta­tions. I was given a choice of a cou­ple of scenes for each book, apart from the first cover, which was a ‘test’ with a spe­cific brief.

Jonny’s work­ing on an­other pi­rate themed book and is also plan­ning a Vik­ings-based saga for chil­dren. www.jonny-dud­

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