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Q&A with Oliver Lake

Children’s books Illustrator living in Oxford

My name is Oliver Lake, I’m an illustrator living in Oxford.  I mainly illustrate children’s books and greetings cards, but sometimes I do other illustration work as well.  I just finished working on a new book, which I think will be published next year. (The publisher hasn’t confirmed the date yet)!

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

I’ve always been creative and thought long ago, that it would be good to be an illustrator.  However, it took me a long time to finally make the commitment to do so. I worked in retail jobs that I was unhappy in for many years.

Then after a moment of inspiration, I just decided I couldn’t do those jobs any more and that illustration was exactly what I wanted to do.  At that point, I finally made the commitment and decided that I would try and do the best work that I could.

What design software do you use?

All my work is digital and I use Adobe illustrator. I work using a combination of both mouse and a drawing tablet.

I find using this software the most efficient and effective way to work.  Once you become familiar with Adobe illustrator and all it’s qwirks, it frees you up to draw pretty much anything (which is very liberating) and then it just takes some good ideas and you ‘re away.

What is your ideal work environment?

I don’t need much at all really.  I have a simple office (I wouldn’t call it a studio), it’s just a room with a big desk and a computer, but it’s also full of children’s books which I have  gradually collected over the years.  So, as long as I have those close at hand, I would say that’s my ideal work environment.

I work alone, as I don’t like to be distracted when I’m working.  Also, I need access to coffee!

Where does your design inspiration come from?

I look at a couple of sites regularly:

Both of these have a lot of book related design and work from many different illustrators, so they are a huge source of inspiration.

I illustrate a lot of animals. So this particular book is a big inspiration for me.

At the moment, I’m really enjoying John Lurie’s work.

I’m inspired and influenced by Roald Dahl books, (His writing and Quentin Blake‘s illustrations).  Also I love Pixar animation.

I try to take elements from all of these influences, mix them together and then use them to find my own voice.

Who is the person you admire most?

In the field of illustration there isn’t really one particular person I admire the most.

However, I do admire the work of these illustrators: Tomi Ungerer, Edward Gorey, and a guy who calls himself  ‘Matthew the Horse’ amongst others.

I also admire a lot of  musicians, because I play a bit of guitar and I’m interested in music.  However I think I would struggle to make a living from it if it was my job. So I really admire those people who have the ability to do so.