We’re introducing a new feature to the Hedgehugs site: the sketchbook blog. Every month Lucy and Steve will share a part of their story of how Horace and Hattie came into being. We hope these posts inspire you and give you a little more of an insight into how characters are created, picture books are made and dreams come true. This week Lucy tells you a little bit about life before Hedgehugs. Enjoy!
This is how it often works. A young fresh faced graduate waits anxiously by her illustration degree show exhibition , her work proudly hung on the wall behind her. She is approached by a children’s book publisher, who likes her work, and asks her if she will consider illustrating for them? She is delighted her education is ending and her career is beginning.
Another way ‘in’ for her could have been to build up a portfolio of work, creating designs for greetings card companies, or perhaps editorial illustrations for magazines, and then getting an agent to represent her.
I didn’t start my career as an illustrator off the back of a successful degree show, nor did I get my lucky break through an agent or online portfolio. It all started on a log, in a greenhouse.
But before I tell you about that, I’ll rewind a little to before my log-sitting sketchbook sessions changed my life.
Like most illustrators, I have been drawing since I was a little child. I created my first ‘book’ at 5 years old and I just kept going from there. Instead of watching TV, I drew.
I adored losing myself in worlds where I was in charge . I immersed myself in drawing the lives of a mouse family, Mr & Mrs Nut, and their children Hazel, Cob, and Wall. (all ‘nuts’… geddit?! )
I was very arty, gaining A*s in art GCSE and A-level, and then went on to complete a foundation course at Falmouth Art College where I graduated with a distinction. After that it was time to pick my degree course and university. Illustration was the obvious choice but I decided to do 3D Craft instead, based at the University of Brighton.
The reason for my choosing a course that was not based in illustration was simply because drawing was my passion, and I didn’t want it judged, altered or ‘spoiled’ for me in any way. I also didn’t really want to know how much competition was out there, nor see how much ‘better’ other people were! So I kept illustrating at home where it was mine.
At the tender of age of 20, I met Steve. It was love at first sight, and we were engaged two months later, though my parents made me wait until I graduated before we married!
We stayed in Brighton after my degree, and I got a job as a higher level teaching assistant in the mornings, and in the afternoons I designed and made jewellery which I sold through high end art galleries.
I enjoyed it, but I didn’t live it, so illustration started creeping back into my life. With the advances in technology, I became interested in how computers can work side by side with illustration, so I enrolled on a course of evening classes in Photoshop. I now had a way to create finished full colour illustrations in the style that I had wanted from my drawings, and a whole new chapter was waiting in the wings to be explored, if I could only find the time between my busy teaching and jewellery obligations.
In 2007 our first daughter Daisy was born, and the jewellery equipment went away, as blow torches and acids don’t mix with babies too well. The year after, the recession hit.
Our family, like so many others, struggled to make ends meet, and I realised I needed to get a ‘real’ job with a definite wage, and I applied for a place on a teacher training course where I’d be paid to train. I was due to start in September, but in August I found out I was pregnant again.
So, we packed our bags, left our home in Brighton, and moved in with Steve’s parents many miles away in Devon.
It was a difficult time leaving our friends and our home. I sometimes wish I could go back to myself then to tell myself how things would work out, with a successful business dong what I love, but the difficult and worrying times forced me into my sketchbook, where I lost myself once again in a world of illustration., but this time with a determination to do something with my talent.
In my next post, I’ll explain how the combination of that sketchbook, mixed with a log in a greenhouse, set me on the path towards starting to sell my artwork, and having my first children’s book published!