HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Illustration Inspiration: Lauren O’Hara, Illustrator of Madame Badobedah
Interview Lauren O'Hara

Illustration Inspiration: Lauren O’Hara, Illustrator of Madame Badobedah

The Children’s Book Review

LAUREN O’HARA is an illustrator from the north of England. As a child she loved reading fairy tales, painting insects, and listening to her grandmother’s stories. She studied art and illustration at Kingston University, then designed window displays and props for films. Her career as an illustrator began when she and her sister, Natalia, worked together on a picture book, Hortense and the Shadow. This was published in 2017 and followed in 2018 by The Bandit Queen. Lauren O’Hara currently lives in a converted church in Dublin, Ireland, with her partner, their cat Ida, and assorted ghosts.

I make art because …

It’s my bread and butter – for which I feel VERY lucky! Before I started illustrating books, I worked in a very uncreative design job and had very little time to be creative. I feel lucky every day (ok MOST days!) that I have a job now that allows me to draw and paint all the time!

Book Review Madame BadobedahMy latest published book is …

Madame Badobedah, written by Sophie Dahl, and illustrated by me!

Art medium used …

Mostly gouache and inks. I used to use acrylics but they’re so gloopy and difficult to use I retired them a couple of books ago. I like experimenting with materials for each project to get the right look and feel.

Artistic process …

Lots of research. For our first book, Hortense and the Shadow, Natalia (my sister and collaborator on our first two books) and I pulled over 2000 images as visual research! Then lots of tiny thumbnail roughs, lots of sketching, and then finally I get to paint!

Book Art
Illustration of a girl and a body of water
I am inspired by …

So many things! Old Eastern-European illustration, forests, painted Easter eggs, nature, snow…

My favorite place to create & illustrate is …

Quite a dull answer but at my desk in my home studio! I always feel really happy sitting down with fresh paint water and a clean palette and putting on good music or a podcast to paint.

Book ArtMy most used art supply or tool is …

Sennelier indigo ink. A selection of cheap watercolor brushes, and Winsor & Newton gouache. My current favorite paint color is currently ‘deep orange lake’, it’s so bright and happy. Oh, and this one particular eraser – it was discontinued so I persuaded my sister to go and buy up all the last stock in London. I have 30 of them in a drawer now!

Book Art
Book Art Madame BadobedahIllustrator idols …

Tove Jansson – an amazing all-rounder who could write as well as she could illustrate and create such a magical world. Alice and Martin Provensen. Maurice Sendak. Jiří Trnka. Lisbeth Zwerger.

All-time favorite children’s books I didn’t illustrate…

One day I’d love to illustrate an edition of The Borrowers or The Secret Garden.

A literary character to create art with …

Little My from the Moomins – I reckon she’d create some really chaotic, wild, uninhibited art.

Currently working on …

Two fairy tale-y books with my sister Natalia and one nonfiction with another writer. I can’t say any more at the moment but I’m VERY excited about them.

For more information about Lauren O’Hara, you can visit www.laurenohara.co.uk, Instagram, and Twitter.

Book Review Madame BadobedahMadame Badobedah

Written by Sophie Dahl

Illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

Publisher’s Synopsis: Who is Madame Badobedah? Mabel sets out to prove that an eccentric new hotel guest is really a supervillain in this witty storybook about an intergenerational friendship.

There’s a strange new guest at the Mermaid Hotel — a very old lady with a growly voice, bags stuffed with jewelry and coins and curiosities, and a beady-eyed pet tortoise. Mabel, whose parents run the hotel, is suspicious. Who is this “Madame Badobedah” (it rhymes with “Oo la la”) who has come to stay indefinitely and never has any visitors? To find out, Mabel puts on her spy costume and observes the new guest. Conclusion? She must be a secret supervillain hiding out from the law. The grown-ups think Madame Badobedah is a bit rude — and sad — but when she invites “dahlink” Mabel for a cup of forbidden tea and a game of pirates, the two begin a series of imaginary adventures together, and Mabel realizes that first impressions can sometimes be very wrong. Conjuring two quirky heroines that young readers will love, Sophie Dahl adds her talented voice to a grand tradition of books that celebrate the alliance of the old and young in the face of humdrum adults, while Lauren O’Hara’s illustrations are as packed with intriguing details as Madame Badobedah’s suitcases.

Art and ImageAges 5-8 | Publisher: Walker Books US | April 7, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1536210224

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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