INTERVIEW WITH AN ILLUSTRATOR
Kate Chesterton is an illustrator and animator with over 15 years experience in creating traditional and digital imagery for screen, print and animation. Her published titles included the Little Buddha series (Ammonite Press) and our own Castle Barmy (Railway Land Press).
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I’ve been a relentless doodler for as long as I can remember but my grandfather, Ray Chesterton, was a cartoonist for Punch magazine and some broadsheets. I used to love playing with his lightbox, pens and pencils when I was 6 or 7 and fascinated by the way he used to put his cartoons together with pencil, then ink, often tipex and then old-school Letraset rub-on letters for the text. He’d then photocopy the whole thing ready to post in for print.
Who are your influences, past and present?
The Tank Girl comics by Jamie Hewlett were a big influence as a teen. I’ve always loved the incredible sense of line and flow that Alphonse Mucha has in his work, and there are so many contemporary favourites: Jim Mahfood, WOCCO & Johnny Dombrowski to name a few.
How would you describe your work?
Ha, I’m never really sure how to describe it… some mixture of wobbly lined, whimsical, washy & graphic!
Can you tell us something about your creative process?
Everything starts with traditional pencil and paper, whether a sketch or more finished line work. I then create a ton of ink and wash or hand-drawn patterns and textures, scan everything in, and composite in Photoshop adding digital line work and effects.
How has lockdown affected your work?
I think it’s been really hard to stay motivated or feel inspired to create this last year. I’m staggered at how productive some people have found this period. I think just getting through it, getting out into the countryside for a change of scene whenever possible, and just staying balanced is a pretty decent achievement. It did give me the chance to take part in Inktober in October which I really enjoyed.
What are your current projects?
I’ve written a rather random children’s book called Reptiles & Amphibithings. I’d like to create something really playful, bold and expressive in the illustration, hopefully incorporating interactive and animated elements in a digital format. It feels like there’s a real shortage of quality ebooks for children that make the most of a digital and interactive format.
What is your most recent published work?
We’ve just published Castle Barmy with Railway Land Press as a KindleApp ebook, with the hardback due in May. It’s the first time I’ve done a full-length picture book for children. It tells the story of King Boris and Doom the Magician putting the kingdom into lockdown when a poisonous Dragon arrives. With the subject matter being so current we were under a lot of time pressure to get it all together. The writing captures modern themes in a fairy-tale setting so well, the illustrations had to do a good job of this too. I think the final outcome works well. The imagery feels relevant but timeless, with some careful intricate lines and pattern work but also with some much looser gesture marks, ink and colour use with a feeling of much more contemporary editorial work. A ye olde mixed bag of goodies and baddies!
You can see Kate’s work at: