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Q&A with Julia Patton

Author and illustrator of children's picture books

My name is Julia Patton and i'm an internationally published author and illustrator of [children's picture books]( Patton/e/B010K48HA0/ref=laB010K48HA0st?rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_82%3AB010K48HA0&qid=1470255392&sort=date-desc-rank). I live in the wilds of Northumberland, UK and work from a rural woodshed overlooking my vegetable garden. When i'm not creating picture books I make sketchbooks, greeting cards for various high street stores and build tree houses.

How did you start your journey in illustration and shape your early career?

My creative journey began as early as I remember creating a post-office under my Grandmothers table, making envelopes and drawing stamps that I 'posted' to my sister. My most precious gift was a box of glue, paintbrushes, paper and scissors given to me by a dear aunt many years ago. I have always loved cutting & sticking, scribbling & painting, as I still do today. I was inspired by Richard Scarry, Heath Robinson and Dr. Seuss.

You studied in The University of Edinburgh. Would you recommend the University to creative people who continue education and what do you remember it for?

My undergraduate was at Manchester University studying textiles where I discovered my love for creating beautiful aesthetics. I then attended Edinburgh University to study MA Illustration where I learned under the exceptional tutor Jonathan Gibbs, that an image must be much more than just aesthetically beautiful, it must communicate the accompanying text. I cannot praise the university and course tutors enough for guiding me through the complex and intriguing world of visual communication.

When did you start making picture books for children, and what kind of book are you working on now?

I completed my first picture book for children the year after I graduated and was lucky enough to illustrate a text for the Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson, the creator of the Gruffalo. I believe my role as an illustrator is to illuminate words, suggest the magical and interpret the unspoken. A good illustrator can capture the imagination and hearts of the audience whilst visually interpreting the emotion of the characters and adventures they explore. I love the idea that nothing is impossible to render and breath live into, which can be a quite overwhelming challenge sometimes. As an illustrator we have many tangible tools of colour, tone, texture and composition at our disposal but also the great responsibility to create a visual vocabulary which expresses those dramatic experiences that occur from physical and emotional journeys. With the help of the brilliant Vivian French and the encouragement from my agents, I now write my own stories. I am currently writing my fifth picture book and find that creating both the narrative and aesthetic makes me feel complete.

I'm currently occupied with exploring narratives that challenge traditional stereotypes and that highlight issues concerning the challenging environments and emotions that contemporary children must navigate. My aim is to produce beautiful picture books that appeal to the target market (Parents) with narratives that may inspire and resonate with my intended audience (child). The book I'm working on now is called Charlie & Pip and is a story for anyone struggling to find their own voice or how to fit in.

Where do you usually meet your illustration inspiration - at your studio, in the city or outside Northumberland?

Every year I visit the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy for inspiration. This is an incredible opportunity to meet face-to-face with my international publishers, fellow creatives and agents, strengthening those all important relationships. It's a delight to finally meet in person, the individual whom you exchange countless emails with at usually very unsociable hours. Attending the trade fair is important for me to see the worlds finest publishing houses under one roof, identifying emerging trends and seeing where my work fits into the market, also who's on my next wish-list to work with.

What famous illustrators from your childhood influenced your worldview and creative thinking?

As a child I was inspired by Richard Scarry, Heath Robinson and Dr. Seuss.