How did you become an illustrator?
I have been making art since I was a child and knew from an early age that my career path would involve either art or writing. After graduating art college, I started out as a retail layout artist back in the pre-digital era when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I used magic markers on layout paper and spent three years working full time in the “real world” before going freelance. For ten years I freelanced for all the major retailers in Canada that no longer exist. I hope this is purely coincidentalJ
Looking for a creative outlet after all those years of cranking out catalogue layouts and ads, I stumbled upon lino printing and fell in love with the process. A friend saw my work and suggested I turn it into an illustration style. I took her advice and got some work for myself before finding an agent, Three in a Box. They helped me get started and kept me busy for ten years when I decided to try it on my own.
Did you go to art school?
I graduated from the Ontario College of Art, now OCADU in Toronto where I majored in Communication and Design.
Were there 1 or more individuals that were an influence in your becoming an illustrator?
My parents who fed my habit with art supplies for birthdays and Christmas, my husband who introduced me to linoleum and showed me how to carve safely, and my friend, Jude Waples www.judewaples.com.who recommended I develop it into an illustration portfolio.
Are there any artists or individuals that influence your work?
I was initially inspired by the fun and funky art of Toronto artist, Barbara Klunder. I am also a huge fan of the art of Jim Flora, Henri Rousseau, Edward Gorey and woodcut artist, Jose Francisco Borges.
What inspires you now?
I am presently inspired by medieval woodcuts and all medieval art including religious icons. I am passionate about myths, legends and folktales from around the world, especially creation stories. Cycling gets the creative juices flowing and the bike path is where my best ideas come from.
Can you share how you create your images?
I begin with tracing paper and felt tip pen for rough sketches. Once the sketch is approved I transfer it to the linoleum with carbon paper (yes, they still make it for the few luddites out there). The image must be transferred in reverse as it will be the mirror image once printed. This is not so crucial with Photoshop’s “flip horizontal”, but in my pre-digital days I had to re-carve more than one illustration due to lack of attention. I clamp down the lino and carve away from myself to prevent injury and I carve pretty fast after all these years. Once the lino is carved, it is rolled with ink. I occasionally print in colour for a more hand-made look, but most of the time I print in black and sometimes change the line colour in Photoshop. I use water-based inks so the print dries quickly, although a hair dryer has been deployed for tight deadlines. The print is then scanned and colour applied in Photoshop. Easy peasy.
I have worked for editorial and corporate clients as well as publishing. My focus has been on children’s publishing for the past several years. I have also created poster illustrations for art festivals.
Are there links to your images you would like to share?
Many samples of my art can be found at www.suetodd.com, and you can see photos of my linocut technique on the blog section of my website.
Do you do other things regarding art like teaching, or classroom visits?
I have pretty much stuck to illustration to date but I expect to branch out into classroom visits in future.
Are there other creative interests you pursue like writing or music?
I recently became obsessed with painting portraits in oils after a lifetime of avoiding likenesses. I don’t know why because I love it now, but I am still very much a student in that department. It is a huge challenge to relinquish control and loosen up with paint after pursuing a very tight style all these years. I am also working on my first solo venture as author/illustrator. I have learned a lot about writing from SCBWI and CANSCAIP, and hope to have something ready next year.
Do you currently have product with your images on the market?
I haven’t pursued licensing yet, but would like to if I ever get the time. You can find some of my book covers in stores, and my illustrations in many educational books. You can even see my art on a bus driving around Phoenix right now. I do sell prints and cards at http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/sue+todd/all.
What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I get to do for a living what I did for fun as a kid. It doesn’t get any better than that!