Every month, a SCBWI illustrator member is chosen to be featured in Words & Pictures. To start the new year, Illustration Feature Editor, Tita Berredo, takes us back to 2022 for a recap of all featured illustrators, showing their best artwork and advice to other artists out there.

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers!

It has been an amazing year for illustration here at Words & Pictures, with illustrators from all career levels being able to share their work and expertise with us. To inspire and celebrate the arrival of 2023, let's go back and have a look at all our past year's featured illustrators. Click on their names to read their full articles.

Rachel Hudson  Featured in February

Based in Hampshire, she is known for her lively natural history illustrations, children’s books and editorial work. Rachel has a First Class degree in the Anthropology of Art and is currently studying for a Masters in Illustration from Falmouth University.
From Rachel

I’m beginning to understand why some illustrators rent studio space with others. Being at home all day, every day, is an isolating experience. Yet I struggle to get away from my studio, plagued by a sense of guilt that I should be sitting at my desk. It’s not necessarily a productive or sustainable way to live and work. Illustrators who achieve a better life/work balance often create richer images too.

See more of her work here.

Margarita Surnaite  Featured in March 

Based in Cambridge, Margarita has a master's degree in Children's Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art. Her debut author-illustrated picture book, The Lost Book, was published by Andersen Press in 2019, and her second one was published in 2022.

From Margarita

Keep a sketchbook – A sketchbook is a place where you can have most creative freedom. You can mindlessly doodle, test and experiment with different tools and mediums and you don't have to show it to anyone. It’s there for you to explore and develop your own visual language, practice, make mistakes and come up with ideas.

Don't neglect your physical and mental health – At the start of your career, you can feel pressured to hustle and overwork yourself in order to succeed. However, your illustration career is not a sprint but a marathon. Take regular breaks, rest, exercise and eat a healthy diet to prevent burnout and repetitive work injuries. Don’t sacrifice your social life. Have other interests and hobbies outside of illustration or writing.

See more of her work here.

Metaphrog – Featured in April

Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, also known as Metaphrog. The Franco-Scottish duo are winners of The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016 Best Visual Artist. Their graphic novels have received international acclaim and multiple award nominations, including three for the Eisner Awards.

From Metaphrog

If we were asked to give advice to any aspiring creators we would say: to make graphic novels, you’ll need three things: dedication, stamina, and an unconditional love of comics. Graphic novels are hugely demanding and time-consuming to create, but it is such an exciting medium!

See more of their work here.

Olivia Holden  Featured in May

Based in Lancashire, Olivia studied Fine Art, Textiles and English Literature. She incorporates handmade textures using various printing techniques, like collage and creating surface patterns.

From Olivia

My advice to pass on would be to persevere, it can sometimes seem like a long and difficult road but perseverance to learn, grow and develop is what leads to improvement. I’d also say there are so many incredible illustrators out there creating wonderful work, but don’t compare yourself. The day I stopped looking at other people’s work and wishing mine was like that, was the day my work got better. I started to source inspiration from other means, looking at real life studies, people watching, taking photographs in busy cities, finding colour combinations of buildings, silhouettes of leaves and the shadows they make on the ground. When I started to look beyond the illustrators around me and started to experiment on my own, I found my own voice and started to see myself in the illustrations I did before.

See more of her work here.

Annabel Hudson – Featured in JuneBased 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.

From Annabel

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.

See more of her work here.

Shaw Davidson  Featured in July

Based in Bristol, Shaw graduated with BA Hons Illustration at Falmouth University and is now a freelance illustrator specialising in children's books. Her illustrations are often inspired by people, history, colour and nature, and she enjoys a mixture of traditional and digital techniques.

From Shaw

It's still early days in my career but I think the advice I would give is to really utilise social media platforms to get your name out there. You don’t need to be posting everyday, but regularly popping up on Instagram or Twitter is a great way to stay in the minds of people who may hire you in the future. It’s also a fantastic way to connect with other illustrators and learn lots about the publishing world. Last year I joined a virtual drawing club with five incredible illustrators and I have learnt so much from them! It really helps to know others working in the same industry, often as illustrators we spend many hours working alone without any input from others, and this can feel quite isolating at times. Luckily there are so many ways to reach out to others in the illustration community, whether that is in person in your town or city; or online through social media!

See more of her work here.

Shannon Ell  Featured in August
Shannon is a non-binary illustrator, animator and designer based in Edinburgh. They graduated in Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art in 2021. Some of their work is based on their cat, Miles, which has been featured as comics in Words & Pictures.

From Shannon

My advice for anyone would be to listen to your peers, take on any critique with a pinch of salt and trust the people you look up to. Allow people to help you learn. Also be kind to yourself and enjoy other people's work instead of comparing yourself.

See more of their work here.

Sophie is a half-kiwi-half-Scottish author and illustrator of picture books who lives on a "rather narrow" boat in London. Her beautiful watercolour and pen illustrations usually include a handful of friends generally getting up to some mischief or other.

From Sophie

I'm not sure I'm qualified to give any advice, I truly still feel as though I'm winging it. But I would say, don't beat yourself up over paths taken that didn't lead anywhere. It's all part of your own rich tapestry. Oh, and show people your work!

See more of Sophie's work here.

Pete is a freelance children's illustrator from Manchester, now based in Inverness. He studied art foundation at Manchester Metropolitan University and then illustration at Stockport College, having illustrated for several self-publishing authors, hybrid publishers and children's magazines.

From Pete

My advice is to keep filling that creative air balloon. Make lots of tiny drawings or thumbnails or story ideas, just keep going, they don't have to make sense at first. Try drawing or writing when you are really tired or have just woken up - this is often when that analytical critical brain is turned off and you can just make interesting progress. Make something in a different medium like plasticine, clay or cut paper. Work with a different colour or large brush. Try making a William Burroughs' cut-up story now and then. Last but not least, speak to other artists.

See more of his work here.

Josie is a children’s’ book illustrator based in Hampshire. She lives with her husband, son and Mary, their beautiful rescue dog who sometimes appears in Josie's stories.

From Macey

As I write, I am still hopeful to be approached by an agent or publisher. I send out my updated portfolio twice a year and the first couple of times I did it I had no response at all. This can be disheartening, it's true, but more recently agents have started to write back and although I am not taken on, I feel that I am now getting some feedback on what I have created so far. I have just sent my portfolio out again so keep your fingers crossed for me. So, my advice is to keep going, keep putting your work out there, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook whatever works for you. You never know who is looking.

See more of her work here.

That's it, guys! A HUGE THANK YOU to all the illustrators who kindly shared a bit of their process by submitting their work to us.

If you are wondering what happened to the first and last months of the year, they were used for different issues. In January last year we published an informative article about what is involved in becoming a featured illustrator, which you can read here.

In December, Words & Pictures editors have a big deserved rest enjoying the holidays and preparing for the new year's issues. Like SCBWI, Words & Pictures is made of volunteers who work hard to produce the best they can for SCBWI members.

If you'd like to become a featured illustrator at Words & Pictures, send an email to illustrators@britishscbwi.org with about five illustrations from your portfolio, a short bio, and a link to your social media or website if you have one.

Looking forward to this year's submissions!

*Header by Tita Berredo


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor at Words & Pictures. She has a Master's degree in Children's Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths UOL, and a background in social communications, marketing and publicity.   www.titaberredo.com

Follow @titaberredo on Instagram and Twitter

Email: illustrators@britishscbwi.org

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