This month's Featured Illustrator is Annabel Hudson! Based in London, Annabel studied graphic design with illustration at Central Saint Martins. Her signature style is a combination of collage, gouache, printmaking and digital. Her work includes over 30 published children’s books, interactive games, and children’s packaging. See more of her work here.

My adventures in illustration started early - when I was little I had fun drawing pictures of our family cat William, (a friendly stray that we adopted with wonky ears, he was lovely). I also adored my picture books, and spent hours painstakingly copying out some of the images (mostly animals). Helen Oxenbury’s wonderful Pig Tale was a favourite. If you don’t know it, check it out - the kitchen scene with Bertha (strawberry milkshake everywhere), and Briggs pushing the car into the pool - just hilarious. It also has a special message about enjoying the ‘real' things in life, and the illustrations are so inventive, warm and funny - it’s a book that’s stayed with me.

bunny / little girl

Although I currently live in central London, I grew up in a town called Marlow in the English countryside. My family home was part of a group of houses with gardens running down to the river, so I spent summery days in rowing boats, playing with my brothers and our friends. I think this love of the outdoors is why I enjoy incorporating natural landscapes in my work when I can, (that and funnily looking animals like my old cat William!).

Autumn Drive

I went on to study at Central Saint Martins (a BA in graphic design with illustration), and really enjoyed experimenting with different media. I spent a lot of time in the print studio playing with techniques, and I think that's why I love working in mixed media. I have such happy memories of art school, it was so exciting to be with other people who loved drawing and creating stuff, and I made life-long friendships. I regularly go sketching with these friends, and a group of us still meet online every Monday night to chat about our projects, (even though one of us is in Barbados and another in Florence).

Sketchbook pages

I was very lucky after art school - encouraged by my best friend, I sent an envelope of pencil sketches to PanMacmillan. Thinking back I can’t believe this worked, but it did. They very kindly gave me a young fiction series, Witch Wendy, which led to another series, Mermaid Magic, (and then commissions with other publishers too like Penguin, Kingfisher and Ladybird). I have also been lucky enough to work with clients like Eurostar and London Zoo, and more recently, branded children’s packaging projects for Annabel Karmel and Young’s Seafood. I think it’s really fun to mix things up a bit in terms of different types of projects.

Covers for 'Witch Wendy'

Recently (last year) I developed my latest style – moving towards something that feels more textured and developed. It’s a combination of gouache, mono-printing, collage and digital. All a bit messy at the start, but I really like the unexpected textures and marks it creates. I think Photoshop is amazing (and the latest digital brushes are wonderful), but I try (and hope) to ensure that my final pieces still have an organic feel with real paint and textures.


Nesting Birds

I was super lucky – the first commission in my new style was a big one for Annabel Karmel – re-packaging their children’s food range with illustrated little kids and props. An absolutely lovely project. I have since been commissioned for book projects in the new style too, all very exciting. One of my most recent book commissions is Friends on the Farm – working with the wonderful peeps at Townhouse publishing. A dream project (with lots of animals!).

AK pack shot

Friends on the Farm

I found a lot of happiness (and comfort) in picture books when I was growing up. One of the things I really hope is that I can create books that give children this feeling too - playful images that stimulate their imagination - hopefully a favourite book that they love and return to. I also hope to write and illustrate one day. I’m so inspired by author/illustrators like Britta Teckentrup, Isabellle Arsenault and Benji Davies (and so many others), who create their own beautiful distinctive worlds through the text and imagery.

Little girl & goldfish

If I were to offer advice to new aspiring illustrators (although truthfully I still feel like I’m learning a lot!), it would be to be brave and get out there. Pick some of your favourite pieces of work (I think editing our work is important), but don’t wait until you feel you have the ‘perfect portfolio’. When I was at Central Saint Martins, the amazing Sir Paul Smith came to chat to us. I remember he said that your portfolio is only as good as the worst piece of work in it, (yikes), but he also said that even he has moments when he wonders about his portfolio (hard to believe as a globally successful design icon!). This made me realise that as creatives we need to put our best foot forward (of course), but also be courageous and just get out there and show what we can do.

Summer mice

*All images: Annabel Hudson

See more of Annabel's work here. Follow her on Instagram, contact her at studio@annabelhudson.com

See previous Featured Illustrators on our Showcase Gallery.


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find her work at www.titaberredo.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. You can contact her at illustrators@britishscbwi.org

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