IN THE SHOES OF… Lucy Farfort

What's it like to be in someone else's shoes? Deputy Editor Fran Price invites an author or illustrator to describe a typical creative day. This month, we share footwear with picture book author and illustrator, Lucy Farfort.

After rushing about to get my six-year-old ready for school, my working day starts around 8.30am. Lucky for me, my husband does the morning school run so I can get started as soon as they’ve left the house. Coffee in hand, I settle down to work from a home studio, which sometimes doubles up as a makeshift guest bedroom. 
In the mornings, the sun streams through the window on a sunny day which is lovely. We live in a Victorian terrace house, and it can be quite dark and cavelike, particularly in the winter months, but my studio is always light first thing.


Cover of In Our Hands, by Lucy Farfort

Because I am a writer and an illustrator, my day is fairly varied depending on what I’m working on at that moment, and where along the journey that creation is at. 
For example, I could be at the mock up stage for a picture book proposal, into the final production images for an already commissioned project, or editing a story.
 I guess if I need to do a bit of social media stuff, then that’s the first thing I focus on because I normally get more views by posting in the morning. And generally I’m not organised enough to actually schedule posts. Also if I need to do a video for an event or a resource, I’ll do that early because of the fantastic morning light.

From In Our Hands (both spreads) by Lucy Farfort

If I’m in the writing phase, then I start it as soon as I can, because words and ideas flow best for me in the morning. Before I begin, I find some background noise or low-fi music to write to. This is normally birdsong or a nature sounds podcast like Radio Lento. In deepest darkest winter, I’m all about the sound of crackling log fires, which brings to mind writing retreats in snowy, forest cabins. 
When writing, I can’t listen to anything with words or even instrumental music with complex rhythms because my mind just wanders.


If it’s a story in it’s very early stages you’ll probably find me writing with a pencil on paper. This will be interspersed with frequent wistful gazing out of the window, aka procrastinating. 
Otherwise, I’ll be tapping away (or at least trying to) at my desktop. 
Because I generally write picture books, or short fiction, I don’t generally worry about how many words I’m getting down. The longest thing I've written (currently out on submission to publishers), is a lower middle grade story of 23,000 words.
 If I get stuck I’ll have a little break, which involves traipsing downstairs for a cuppa, doing the washing up, or a quick hoover whilst thinking things through. That can sometimes jolt my brain into action. If that doesn’t work, then going back to pencil on paper, and scribbling down thoughts and ideas seems to help unstick me.

self-directed illustration, part of a series of re-imagined fairy tales, by Lucy Farfort

I can’t switch easily between writing and drawing, and need to focus on one or the other for a good period of time in order to get a flow going. So if writing is the priority, either because a commission calls for it or my brain demands it, then if I can, I’ll do that all day and every day until it’s done. 
Similarly, if my current priority is the images, then I’ll focus as fully as I can on that before moving onto other things. 
When it comes to illustrating, I can listen to music with words again. Yay! Often I listen to podcasts which I love.
 I find I can concentrate for much longer periods of time than I can when writing. Once I get started I can sit pretty much all day with a quick lunch break in between. Probably not great health-wise, but I tend to get far more engrossed when drawing and forget about important things… you know like drinking, eating and moving. Ha ha!
 I think I can concentrate longer because I’m much more practiced at it, and have a more fixed process which allows me to power through. Whereas the writing is more organic and fluid, and feels more like a leap of faith. I love how liberating, and much less pressured it is for me.


From New Baby (both spreads) by Lucy Farfort, published May 2022

As an illustrator I work both traditionally and digitally. This means I could either be doing pencil drawings, producing watercolour paintings, or be on my iPad using Procreate and finalising work. 
My favourite part of the process though, is the watercolour painting. This is the most relaxing and therapeutic part, and I have an ongoing desire to work fully traditionally. Sadly though, I’m not brave enough, and I like the safety-net of the easy do-overs that digital illustration provides. 
For big illustration projects, I tend to bulk each part of the process together as I find I work quicker that way. So, whereas I used to do one image from rough to final before moving on, now I do all the drawings for a book together, then paint them all one after the other, before scanning them and doing the digital work. Again, it helps with the flow to do the same process over and over, rather than hopping from one thing to another.


There are a few very lovely days, when my job is quite different and involves speaking to an actual person… someone other than myself. Like when I do school visits or book festival events. Public speaking is definitely not my strong point, and something I never considered when starting out in this job. I have to do a lot of planning to feel ready, and get pretty nervous beforehand. But speaking to children is always a huge joy and real privilege.


My day stops when my boy Winston is back from school, or I have to pick him up. That can be around 3-5.30pm depending on after school plans. It’s a good thing too, or I would most likely be working until I drop. I’ve been a bit of a workaholic in the past, but having a six year-old negates that, which suits me just fine.

* Header image by Alex Crump; all other images courtesy of Lucy Farfort


Lucy Farfort is an Illustrator-Author of Caribbean/English heritage, who works in both traditional and digital media. 
In 2017 Lucy won first prize in illustration for Faber’s inaugural FAB Prize, and has gone on to illustrate for Little Tiger, Knight’s Of and Scholastic. Her debut picture book In Our Hands has just come out with Tate Publishing, and her story, Light Bearer, will be published in the Faber Book of Bedtime Stories in October.


Alex Crump is an illustrator based in Wiltshire, with past careers as both a teacher and a zookeeper, as well as other current sidelines of storyteller and charity/museum educator. 
Instagram: @alexcrumpillustration

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