I only attended one talk this year and was so glad not to miss it… my all time favourite illustrator Shaun Tan was interviewed along with Kitty Crowther a Belgium illustrator. They both have won the Astrid Lindgren Prize for Children’s literature. Both super talented and articulate.
Kitty Crowther had her first picture book published in 1994 “Polca and Mia” . She draws and draws if she is stuck and says baby books are the hardest things to do, she was fascinated with babies and what they have to deal with , people constantly poking at them and coming and going etc. She grew up with stories that dealt with the heavy stuff like death and God and the premise when you write for young people you can include all elements of life.
When Shaun Tan was asked how he creates work with a deeper level of meaning. Shaun answered he usually starts with something silly, say a misconception, like when you look at something and actually see something else, or you hear something and mistake it for something else.
The meaning is his work comes later. He suggest you do lots and lots and lots of work and the meaning usually comes to the surface naturally. He uses small sketchbooks and crappy pens.
Also when questioned on developing your own style Shaun reckons do whatever you can and your style evolves. He likens each of us as a “train station ” with multiple tracks running through us. Each track is a different interest or influence.
His own ideas come out of his sketchbooks and roughly 2-5 % may have some life in them. By the time he reaches a final image he knows it really well. Using colour for emotional purposes and will use Black and white when colour is not necessary.