Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hazel Mitchell

How did you become an illustrator?
I think I've always been an artist. At least, I can't ever remember thinking, 'I want to be an artist', I just was. I was making and creating and drawing from an early age. I was interested in the arts and all things creative. Except for also being interested in everything to do with horses! When I was 18 I was forced into the decision of horse school or art school. I wanted horse school. My art teacher convinced me I should go to art school. It was a long and drawn out path with many tangents to be what I now feel I really, truely am - a creator of children's illustrations.

Did you go to art school?
I DID go to art school. I promised my art teacher (my main influence) I would, and went to art foundation course in York, England. But it didn't go well. I guess my heart was with the horses at that time. I loved being outdoors and with animals. I found it hard to spend all day in a studio. Sure, I loved creating, but I didn't see how I could make a career of it. After foundation course I started a BA in, of all things, glass blowing and ceramics. Given that I am not good at 3d work it wasn't the best place to be. I feel I was let down by art school. No one told me I could change courses .. no one recognized the illustrative style I worked in (after I left school that is), and I had no idea how one become an illustrator. It was fine art or the high road (or graphics). So I dropped out, joined the Royal Navy and actually became a graphic artist! See I told you I went off on tangents.
Was there anyone that influenced you in becoming an artist?
When I was at art school I loved all things Victorian, pre-raphealite, impressionistic, fauvist.  As for illustration (and especially children's illustration), it's not until the last five years that I've really begun to educate myself. My love of all things victorian, or post-victorian, is deep. Arthur Rackham, E H Shepherd, Edward Ardizzone, Pauline Baynes, Edward Lear, Kate Greenaway. And later Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle, Edward Gorey, Raymond Briggs, Emily Gravett, David Small, Matt Phelan. My roots are mostly in the old country, as you can see. 
What inspires you now?
I am inspired very much by the great work of other illustrators and artists - by hard-working friends- by the countryside and by animals, by music and stories and great writing and cinema. Oh and by getting out and about with my camera. So many things!
Would you like to share your work process?
I work by hand and digitally. Most of my illustrative work is hand drawn and then scanned in. I also paint the backgrounds to some of my illustrations in watercolour and then scan and colour in photoshop. I have been known to use collage and I love dipping pen. In my work I am using several techniques all at once. You see, I have a very low boredom threshold!
What types of markets do you create art for?
Right now I'm working mainly in children's illustration for trade books and educational books. But I would like to do some editorial work and maybe get back to some fine art too.
Do you pursue other creative interests like writing or teaching?
I used to teach summer school art to children and adults, but haven't taught for a while. Not ruling it out in future though! It's good to get inspiration from students.
I'm writing ... children's picture books and middle grade novels. So maybe you will see 'author' next to my name at some point. I do hope so! I play the tin whistle (a bit), love to sing and have a clarinet in a box I keep threatening to learn. And as I said before, I love to take photographs.
Where can your art be seen?
My art is mostly in children's books.
What do you love best about what you do?
I love the variety of my work. You never know what the next day will bring. I love that I can organize my own time and work when I want to, and sometimes, where I want to. I love bringing pleasure to children with my work.
Are there links where more of your work can be seen?

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