Our latest Undiscovered Voices Illustrator interview is with Deborah Sheehy, who was inspired by the rich and brooding atmosphere of the Wild Wood in The Wind in the Willows.

Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less

Born in Glasgow, I grew up with a longing to wander and to seek out wild places. And so on leaving University, I spent some years living in lands near and far, including the Philippines, India, and Wales before moving to the Scottish Isle of Bute, where I became a full-time artist in 2015. In December 2017 I returned to Glasgow where I now nest in a quiet nook with my Chef husband.

Who or what do you think informs your illustration the most?

My earliest memories are woven through with stories old and new and a deep love of creatures of all furs and feathers. These threads have knotted ever more tightly through my adult life and, as such, my artwork is mostly made up of animals created with paint and pencil in otherworldly settings.

What materials do you enjoy using the most?

I mostly paint in acrylic but I also love drawing with graphite or charcoal.

Why did you choose the scene you illustrated for UV2018?

The line in The Wind in the Willows, when Mole enters the Wild Wood, “Everything was very still now” just jumped out at me. Most of the illustrations I have seen for this book have centred on the action or interactions between the characters, but painting this scene, for me, was all about the atmosphere and capturing mole in that moment of stillness.

If there was one thing that stood out the most about being a part of UV2018, what would it be?

Being chosen in the first place! Also, the lovely folk and huge amount of goodwill within the children’s publishing industry.

What has been the most valuable part of UV2018 for you?

I think it would have to be the opportunity to spend time with people who work in the children’s publishing industry. Between the workshop and the Anthology launch party, I had the chance to speak at length with other illustrators, as well as writers, publishers, and agents, and it was a privilege to listen to their collective wisdom, experience, and advice.


See more of Deborah's work here.
Follow her on Instagram

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Undiscovered Voices is an anthology published every other year by the British SCBWI and aims to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers. Undiscovered Voices has launched the careers of writers and illustrators, who have gone on to publish more than 200 books. These authors have been nominated for, and won, an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and nearly 30 regional awards. Visit Undiscovered Voices for all the details and news when submissions will open for the next anthology.

You can download the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology here.

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