When I was five I received my first letter and from that day on, I knew when I grew up I would be an artist.
Coming from a family of artists and actors, it all felt very possible to pursue a career in art.
I went to Canterbury Art College where I did a four year course in graphic design.
During the course I made a short animated film, which was terrible, but it had given me a taste of seeing my images move and it was suggested by the tutors that I should consider a career in animation.
A few months after leaving college I went up and knocked on the doors of a load of animation studios. Three weeks later I got a call and started working solidly for the next 20 years.
From 1984 I steadily worked my way up through the many departments that make up the animation process. During those 20 years I have worked on TV shorts, commercials, short films and feature films.
|Trix commercial ‘Uncle Harry’ Pizazz Pictures, early 1990’s. This is a commercial where I did colour design, layouts, finished backgrounds and assistant animation.|
|‘The Village’ a short oscar nominated film by Mark Baker.|
Pizazz Pictures 1993
I worked as an animator and assistant animator.
In 1995 I was relocated to LA to work for Dreamworks Animation.
|‘The Hieroglyphic Nightmare Sequence’, ‘The Prince of Egypt’ Dreamworks 1998|
I co-ordinated the clean-up animation and did the clean-up layouts for this sequence.
|‘El Dorado’ Dreamworks 1999, I worked in the layout department on this film and this is one of my clean-up layouts.|
|‘Shrek’ Dreamworks/PDI 2001, I worked in the art department on this film and illustrated the storybook at the beginning of Shrek and Shrek 2.|
|‘Madagascar’ Dreamworks/PDI 2003, I worked in visual development on this film|
|‘Shrek’, Seq 110, ‘Escape from The Keep’. These are some colour keys I did for a sequence in Shrek.|
I still use this way of working when dealing with the colour for a book. It helps me keep a more cohesive look throughout.
|‘Five Black Cats’, Caterpillar Books, Tiger Tales.|
|‘Five Black Cats’ Cover|
Colour and design are extremely important and a huge influence on me is the Fauve Movement from the early 1900’s, especially the paintings of Andre Derain.
|‘Thames Embankment’ Andre Derain|
|two sketches I did of the same scene at the local allotments, winter and early spring.|
|‘i’, Mary Blair.|
|The cover for the ‘Golden Book’ ‘I Can Fly’ by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Mary Blair.|
Animator to IllustratorI was still working on ‘Shrek 2’ up to four weeks before I had my daughter and when I left Dreamworks for maternity leave I started to build up my illustration portfolio. I entered the SCBWI New York Illustration Showcase at the Winter Conference 2003 and became a top ten finalist.
|‘Little Red Riding Hood’, NY Showcase Top Ten finalist 2003.|
I returned to the UK in late 2006.
In 2009 I had an illustration selected for the Society of Illustrators 51st Annual of American Illustration.
|Illustration selected for 51st Annual. Done for the Totoro Project.|
In 2010 I won the portfolio award at the SCBWI Winchester Conference.
In 2011 I entered Images 35, Best of British Illustration, AOI and had two pieces selected.
|Christmas Card, personal work.|
|‘The Chicken Song’, reading book for Korean publishers.|
Even though I was busy with lots of work, it wasn’t always the kind of work I wanted and I never had time to develop my own ideas. I took a short course in illustration at Chelsea Art College, which was terrific and gave me the chance to work on my own stuff.
Returning to illustration jobs and working in a very digital way that I didn’t enjoy, helped me make up my mind to apply for the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge.
The encouragement on the course to experiment with print, combined with all the knowledge I had accumulated over the years, has resulted in a way of working which I find exciting with endless possibilities. I can now produce work that has the evidence of the human hand and yet I’m still able to apply that to all the possibilities that Photoshop provides.
|‘Bicycle’, shortlisted for the AOI Illustration Awards 2014.|
With the course having a stand at the Bologna Book Fair, where students display their book dummies, it resulted in me getting my first author/illustrator book deal with Macmillan. My book ‘Giraffe on a Bicycle’ will be out early next year.
See more of Julia's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.
Julia is represented by Helen Mackenzie-Smith at Bell Lomax Moreton. Her portfolio site can be found here
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