Illustration Inspiration: Andrew Joyner, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
The Children’s Book Review | February 28, 2017
Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others.
I make art because …
It’s always been a part of me and it makes me happy. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw, although it was quite a while before I even thought of it as a possible career. Aside from some high school years, I never really studied art. But I was always drawing—for the school newspaper, for the student newspaper at university (where I studied English literature) and then for various bands and posters when I finished university and worked in a record store. Then I started to get work as a freelance illustrator for newspaper and magazines and things like that, but it wasn’t until I was nearly 40 that I got to illustrate my first children’s book.
Making a book is such hard work—or at least it is for me. It takes me many, many drawings to get anything to work. But I love that feeling when it all starts to come together, when what’s on the page feels like something beyond a drawing.
My latest published book is …
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm, written by Jonathan London, published by Two Lions/Amazon 2017. I’ve illustrated quite few books for Australian publishers which have also been released in the US, but this is the first time I’ve worked directly with a US publisher.
Art medium used …
My illustrations are always a mix of traditional and digital media. They start with brush and ink drawings, which I then color using Photoshop. I never really color directly in Photoshop. Instead I use it to combine my line drawings with more ink drawings (or really, just splodges and blobs of ink for the various bits of color). When I’m finished, I’m surrounded by all of these sheets of expensive Arches watercolor paper with bits of drawings on them. It can sometimes feel a little intangible. And a little wasteful!
Perhaps for this reason, with Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm I decided to change my approach slightly, and start with a more complete drawing. So the art for these books consist of brush and ink drawings, with a red/yellow ochre wash and some pencil tone. Basically, I think of it as a black line drawing, with a single color wash added for tone and depth. Because I’ve used a different color for the wash, I can then use Photoshop to separate the line drawing from the wash and pencil elements, and then make each part any color I like. There are a couple of photos below showing what the original drawing looks like, and how it appears in the final book. My son thinks I should do a book entirely in the style of these original drawings. Maybe he’s right!
Artistic process . . .
My illustrations are very focused on character, and sometimes these characters appear easily and other times they can be painfully elusive. I just draw and draw until it feels right, until I have some sense that the character could be looking back at me. It’s very rare for this to happen in the first few drawings, but that was happily the case with Duck and Hippo. I started working on this book during a prolonged family holiday in Bali (due to a pesky volcanic ash cloud). Here’s one of my first drawings. It doesn’t look too different from Duck and Hippo’s final appearance.
I am inspired by …
I grew up in Australia in the 70s and 80s, in a small country town on the Murray River, so I grabbed culture wherever I could find it. That happened to be in Punch annuals that my grandfather collected, along with a book he had on the New Yorker magazine, called Here at the New Yorker. The cartoons I saw in those magazines and books had a huge impact upon me. Look at the work of any of their cartoonists—Charles Addams, Peter Arno, George Booth, Rowland Emett, Roz Chast, William Steig and so many more, both past and current—and you’ll see not just a distinct style but also an instantly recognizable and complete world. And all in just one drawing! They’re like a primer for visual storytelling. Plus they’re funny.
My favorite place to create & illustrate is …
At home in my room—it is yet to earn the title of studio—and especially at the desk which was built for me by my wife’s dad, Lloyd. I love this desk. Lloyd was a biochemist by trade (now happily retired), but I think he’s a carpenter by nature. Plus I just love working from home. I’m happily domesticated!
My most used art supply or tool is …
Ink. Although strictly speaking, lately it’s liquid acrylic, specifically Golden High Flow Acrylic Carbon Black.
Illustrator idols …
So many—everywhere I look there is something to admire! So I’ll pick just one and say Wanda Gág for her immediacy and charm and singularity, and for doing it all in just black and white.
All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…
Again, impossible to pick just one, so I’m going to select at random from my home library and say Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. It wears its revolutionary fervor so lightly.
A literary character to create art with …
Two fabulous hippos: George and Martha.
Currently working on …
Quite a few things! I’ve recently finished illustrating the second Duck and Hippo book (Duck and Hippo Lost and Found, out August 2017). I’m currently working on a picture book for HarperCollins US, and a few Australian books, including a wonderful novel about a boy and a kangaroo, written by Ursula Dubosarsky.
Connect with Andrew Joyner …
Written by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Andrew Joyner
Publisher’s Synopsis: Get ready for a rainy-day adventure with Duck and Hippo!
Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now? Jonathan London’s charming text and Andrew Joyner’s delightful art bring to life two lovable friends in this fun new series.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Two Lions | March 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1503937239
There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable coloring sheets: https://www.andrewjoyner.com.
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