Featured Illustrator: Lucy Farfort

It's always a privilege to introduce exciting new artists in our Featured Illustrator slot, and this month we welcome Newcastle based Lucy Farfort. A winning finalist of this year's Undiscovered Voices, Lucy's path has explored both traditional and digital areas of children's book illustration. See more of her work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery.

As a child I loved reading picture books and writing stories. I recall getting the book The Tea Party of Miss Moon one Christmas and was totally absorbed by the images and text alike.

The Tea Party of Miss Moon by Princess Mary Thurn-Taxis. My favourite childhood book (©Andre Deutsch Ltd 1982).

Like most illustrators, drawing has always been a constant in my life. It’s what I loved (and still love) to do the most at school and in play. Art wasn’t necessarily my best subject - I had to work at it, but that didn’t matter because I couldn’t get enough of drawing.

So from fairly early on I wanted to spend my life working in a job that involved drawing and being creative but I didn’t really know exactly what. Then around thirteen, I was introduced to anime and manga by my savvy, street-wise, city dwelling cousin on a visit to his house. He insisted I watch Akira and I was blown away. I became obsessed with Japanese comics and animation, particularly that of Hayao Miyazaki, and it was then that I decided I wanted to be an illustrator.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (©Tokuma Shoten/Studio Ghibli 1982). I find Hayao Miyazaki’s work magical!

I contacted a British based manga illustrator to ask how he got into his line of work and went from there. For a long time it was comics that drew me, but mainly it was narrative image making that called to me. Whilst studying for a degree in illustration and animation, my attention shifted towards children’s book illustration. I would spend hours in the library studying picture books. One of my favourite illustrators during that period was Arthur Rackham. I loved the mystical quality of his images.
A gorgeous illustration from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, by Arthur Rackham (Heinemann 1907). Timeless beauty!
In those days I was a purist. I wanted to work only with traditional media, to the point that I created all the text for a book in my final show using typesetting. Unfortunately no one seemed to care much for traditional techniques. The focus was on the new technologies coming out – Photoshop etc.

When I left university, everyone who was anyone was producing illustrations digitally. It felt like the only way you would get noticed was to jump on the digital bandwagon. So I taught myself Photoshop (since I had rejected that at university) and created work that was VERY digital looking.

Whale and Me, a self-initiated piece that featured in Digital Artist Magazine.
I did the odd bit of freelancing, but wasn’t entirely happy with the direction my work was going in. Then the need to start paying off university debts drove me into a full time admin job. I desperately tried to fit in creative activities when I could but it pretty much went on hold.

It stayed that way for quite a few years until I had an opportunity to work part-time and throw myself into illustration properly again. I had the time to really start developing my own style and went back to my more traditional illustrative routes. I began painting again and started to combine these textures with scanned in textures, pattern, and digital colour. Gradually my line work has become rawer too and this has resulted in the very textural, mixed media style I have now. It’s taken me a long time to develop a style I’m truly happy with, and one that uses all the skills I have accrued over the years.

I began to balance part-time admin work with my illustrator alter-ego and took freelance creative work wherever I could, jumping of course at any opportunity to do illustration for the children’s market. Work gradually picked up, so when I was made redundant from my admin job I decided to go full-time freelance and see where it took me. It was a struggle. In order to bring in a bit more money, I also did graphic design work too. Then I figured a way into the picture book market might be to start writing my own texts, at the very least this would give me a focus and material to illustrate.

Someone suggested SCBWI to me, which I had previously thought was only US based. I joined and started taking part in a regular SCBWI critique group. It helped hugely in giving me faith in my work, which I severely lacked.

Becoming a SCBWI member has opened up loads of doors. Being included in the Illustrators Showcase in 2014 was a real confidence boost. I felt my work was finally on the right track.

The Parade
When I heard about the Undiscovered Voices competition I thought: ‘why not?’ Despite being eight months pregnant at the time and never having done a black and white illustration before, I decided to go for it. I never in a million years expected to be a finalist. Then I was contacted by an agent who liked my UV piece, about the possibility of future representation. Needless to say I was on cloud nine.

The Princesses’ Cruel Prank
In a way, the timing hasn’t been great, what with having a baby. Things have had to go on the back-burner. But now I know, after many ups and downs, I can do it, and finally achieve my dream of becoming a picture book illustrator. Who knows, one day I may even have one of my own texts published. I feel like my illustration journey is just beginning!


See more of Lucy's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.  Lucy's personal website is here. Email Lucy here


  1. Fascinating! What an inspirational story. I love your work, Lucy - especially The Parade shown here and the cheetah acrobats. Looking forward to seeing it in print soon. : )

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  3. Lucy, you've achieved SO much.....brilliant!

  4. Fantastic work, Lucy. Nice to hear about how things started, too.

  5. Great article! You have what it takes to succeed!

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