Kate Hindley’s beautiful illustrations showing how you can get lost in a book, fired up by a story and share tales together, fill the Bournville BookFest 2016 programme. The artist – who lives in Northfield with her boyfriend Chris and dog Badger – came to the rescue of the Big Draw last October when author James Mayhew fell ill and had to pull out at a moment’s notice. She brought Mussorgsky’s music to life with imaginative sketches, live on stage, and won a standing ovation. Kate tells Busy Parents Network how she became an illustrator.
“I was always drawing,” says Kate. “At school I wasn’t any good at anything else. “I was always colouring-in and really liked making things, drawing my own comics and creating my own books – very geeky!”
It was obvious to young Kate what she should do when she grew up, but she didn’t get much encouragement.
“When I was at school I was told being an artist wasn’t a proper job. I had a careers advice session and it said I could be a librarian, a jewellery-designer or a refuse collector! I was like, isn’t there a more obvious career? Someone must do the drawings in books!”
Happily, Kate ignored her careers advisor and went on an art foundation course at Bournville Art College, then an extremely enjoyable three-year degree in illustration, pasty-eating and sketching at the seaside at Falmouth.
Her first commissions were designs for Christmas cards and babygrows, and then she was asked to illustrate children’s books. Her first was The Great Snortle Hunt by Aliens Love Underpants author Claire Freedman, and since then she’s illustrated How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson, Worst in Show by William Bee, and Oliver and Patch by Claire Freedman again.
How does Kate enjoy working with authors? “I never get to meet the authors!” she laughs. “ We get matched by the publishers and the text, brief and any alterations come by email. I have to find the authors myself on Twitter to say how much I’ve enjoyed working on their book. It’s more of a collaboration with the publishers.”
Kate’s favourite book to date has been Worst in Show, a whacky picture book about The Best Pet Monster in the World competition. “It’s a really funny text about a 1960’s-style world where children keep pet monsters, which has given me loads of scope to create lots of fun details.”
Her latest book is Don’t Call Me Choochie Pooh! Written by Sean Taylor, about a pampered lap dog who wants to be taken seriously – something which will appeal to every small child who wants to be “big”.
“I liked doing the expressions,” said Kate, whose pictures of dogs take inspiration from her mongrel-terrier Badger. “I’m often too lovey-dovey with him when I think he’d much rather roll in disgusting things, go mad on the Lickeys and be a “real” dog!”
Kate managed to get noticed by asking publishers for their opinion of her portfolio – and taking homemade shortbread to meetings as a thank you present.
What advice would Kate give an aspiring illustrator?
“Go for it. It’s quite a lot of hard work at the beginning, with lots of wandering around London. I had a part-time job in a video game shop when I first started out, where I seemed to see lots of angry young men, so that gave me motivation to make a success out of illustration!”
“I’m grateful I got so much help from college teaching me about issuing invoices and meeting clients. But don’t give up – you can make a living out of it.”
Have you booked your tickets yet? Meet Britain’s favourite author-illustrators Nick Sharratt and Korky Paul at Bournville BookFest 2016. From How to make Awesome Comics to Design your Own Monster, there are some brilliant workshops aimed at young artists, as well as dance, drama and creative writing workshops for 0-18 year olds. Bournville BookFest is running at 12 venues across Birmingham from Friday March 18-20.