Picture Book Hygge: Celebrating the Art of Fiona Woodcock


There is something extremely calming about Fiona Woodcock’s artwork — I would describe it as the hygge of picture book illustration — because each time I read one of her books, I feel so relaxed and content, gently swept up by the subtle colours and textures she creates. A Dot in the Snow is beautiful, uncomplicated, peaceful — and yet dramatic in composition of scale and landscape.

Illustrator Fiona and author Corrinne Averiss have been nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal for Dot, and so here, Fiona talks about her creative process.

A Dot in the Snow, published by Oxford University Press and nominated for a 2018 Kate Greenaway Medal.


FW: As soon as I heard the title and Corrinne’s concept for the book — the idea of a little polar bear spotting a dot in the snow, I was totally captivated and knew I wanted to work on it.

My initial brief was to do something “artful,” which as an illustrator is a real gift! 

I spent my Christmas watching wildlife documentaries to get my head around bears and snowy scenes. This was invaluable and helped to spark off compositional ideas for the landscape spreads. 

We decided early on that it was important to highlight the environmental impact on the melting polar ice caps with the cracking ice spreads. This influenced the character design of the young polar bear cub Miki and we resolved to have him on all fours, rather than anthropomorphised on two legs. This slightly naturalistic approach seemed to help place him in the snowy world, where he has to contend with all the perils of the harsh environment. 

I did lots of printmaking experiments to create the landscapes, printing with rubber stamps, and polystyrene from a pizza base was great for ice. I then composited all the elements digitally. 

As well as the relationship between the characters, I was keen to capture their relationship with the environment, the filmic potential and the sense of space and distance covered on Miki’s epic adventure.

Corrinne sent me a link to this Björk track which she listened to whilst writing the book. It then became my soundtrack whilst illustrating it and we played it on a loop at our London book launch at the Bright Emporium! 


My huge thanks to Fiona! LM


If you’d like to work with Fiona, you can reach her via her agent, Arabella Stein here.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona and her picture books, click the link below.

Fiona Woodcock — From Art Licensing to Children’s Books and Beyond…
Read the blog


The BBC recently aired a documentary, Life in Polar Bear Town, which you can see here.

Photograph courtesy of the BBC. See more here.

Box of Delights: Profiling Ashling Lindsay

Ashling Lindsay has an immediately recognisable style. She understands how to use colour, and how to compose her subjects within the space on a page to create unforgettable scenes. The Night Box is everything a children’s book should be, with a thoughtful and poetic voice — comforting anyone who feels slightly less than bold in the dark. It is the perfect way to help a child to feel secure and comforted as the evenings draw in over the long Winter months. Ashling is still very set on honing and developing her skills as an artist, so much so that despite already working as a picture book illustrator, she has gone back to art school to continue her studies in the fine arts.

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Ashling, where did you study, and did the course help to shape your style, or was it something you found organically?

I did a BA in Graphic Design and Illustration at Ulster University Belfast – and am now back there working towards an MFA. I’m not sure how the style I have came about, I think I just drew a lot and got to know what I liked and what I didn’t. For me what’s most important is that the image communicates what was intended.

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What drew you to illustrate for children?

I’ve always been really into picture books – some of my favourites are The Shrinking of Treehorn by Edward Gorey, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and Moonman by Tomi Ungerer. I remember being read those as a kid, and when I realised that making them was an actual job that people did – I wanted to do it too.

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Your colour palette is beautiful, calming and very recognisable. How did you develop this, and is there a reasoning behind that particular palette – as in, was it very thought out, or did it occur naturally?

I try to come up with a palette that feels right for the text and usually spend a lot of time working it out. I do have my personal favourites though, and am definitely guilty of trying to make them work whenever possible!

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Can you tell me about any outside influences on your work – such as films, books, places, people?

I can’t say for certain what outside material has influenced my work – I do read a lot, and I definitely watch a lot of films. Book wise my favourite writers are probably Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace and maybe Proust – I say maybe because I’ve only read one of his books so far, but it was a good one. And with film – I really like David Lynch’s stuff, all of Studio Ghibli and a lot of Wes Anderson’s.

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What’s next on the horizon for you in terms of picture books, and where would you like your career to be – say in five years time? 

I’d really like to try writing and illustrating a whole picture book myself. And I would also really like to work with a writer from the very beginning of a project – to come up with ideas and story together – to make a more collaborative book.

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With my thanks to Ashling who is represented by The Bright Group

You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Jonathan Leach’s Moz the Monster for John Lewis Christmas 2017

Being experienced in drawing monsters, Phosphor Art's Jonathan Leach was thrilled to be a part of this year's famous John Lewis Christmas advert. Jonathan, who is a trained puppeteer and experienced illustrator worked with agency adam&eveDDB on the campaign by illustrating cheeky Moz the Monster for in-store and online displays. Jonathan uses a combination of pencils, pens and watercolours to create his highly detailed artwork.

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Alex T. Smith: Mr Penguin and The Lost Treasure

He has a dashing hat. He has a packed lunch of fish finger sandwiches and he is very keen. Meet Mr. Penguin - Professional Adventure and er… penguin is like Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot in the first book in a new series written and illustrated by Alex T. Smith.

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Luella Wright for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Phosphor Art's Luella Wright has been working hard on some illustrations with Jungle Creative for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Her cute characters have been used so far to decorate the walls of the hospital and for apps, games and books for the patients to interact with.

 

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