Bookroo Interview With Emma Randall
The weather outside may be frightful, but that’s just a good reason to curl up inside with a book! And with this month’s Bookroo boxes arriving soon, you’ll have some delightful new books to enjoy together!
One book featured in this month’s Bookroo board book boxes is The Snowman Shuffle, written by Christianne Jones and illustrated by Emma Randall. This timely tale is certain to be a fun read for your little one this snowy season.
We were able to interview Emma Randall this month, and we’re excited to share more about her and her work. Emma is a UK-based children’s book illustrator. She creates her delightful illustrations from a barn studio in the village of Tickenham, on the outskirts of Bristol, England. Dreamy, right? She has illustrated over ten children’s books, and she also has a lovely shop featuring illustrations, cards, and other clever creations.
Bookroo: What did you enjoy most about creating illustrations for The Snowman Shuffle?
Emma: I really loved creating the snowman character in ‘The Snowman Shuffle’ and imagining what it would be like to be a snowman performing those dance moves… working out how he would look hopping was particularly interesting! If you had walked in on me working out how to draw those spreads, you would probably have found me acting out the dance moves myself.
Bookroo: What steps or process do you follow when creating illustrations?
Emma: Firstly I draw lots of thumbnails to work out the rough composition. Then I start to rough out my chosen composition, drawing over it again and again until I have something I am happy with. When I have a final sketch with the characters all finalised, I scan it into the computer and roughly colour it in using photoshop. When I am happy with the colours and the sketch, I print it out in black and white onto hot pressed watercolor paper, which I then use to paint it with gouache paint and colouring pencils. This I then scan in again, and perfect it by adding finishing touches in photoshop.
Bookroo: What is one challenge you’ve had to overcome to succeed as a children’s book illustrator?
Emma: I had to really work hard on figuring out my style for a few years, even after university. It took me a long time to start getting book commissions, and Plum Pudding (my agents) were amazing in helping me to get my work to where it is today during that time. It was challenging to keep going - but I am so happy I persevered.
Bookroo: The studio barn sounds like a great workspace. Can you tell us more about it?
Emma: Ah yes it is lovely thank you! It is in North Somerset, in a barn full of other freelancers in a collective called ‘Hullo Creative’ which is great. I find it important to work with like-minded people! (They are pretty lovely too.) It’s cosy and cute, with wooden beams throughout, and if you walk up the hill you get a beautiful view of the fields and the nearby town of Nailsea - perfect for when you’re stuck for inspiration!
Bookroo: Do you have a time of day when you feel most creative or productive?
Emma: Probably at about 5pm, I suddenly feel very creative!
Bookroo: What path led you to becoming a children’s book illustrator?
Emma: I always loved drawing and reading a lot as a child. So one day I realised, a way to combine these two loves would be to become an illustrator! My mum and dad are both creative too, so they would always encourage me to paint and draw when I showed an interest in it.
Bookroo: What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?
Emma: Recently I worked on a picture book with Penguin Random House: ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’ And I absolutely loved working on this title, creating all of the patterns and crazy little characters. I think I drew at least forty maids-a-milking! I also loved seeing my illustrated book for the Bible Society: ‘The Well Good News of Christmas’ being made into an animation last year. It was amazing seeing my illustrations brought to life like this.
Bookroo: Outside of illustrating for children’s books, what do you enjoy doing?
Emma: I love spending time with my little baby boy Herbie and my husband Max, reading, shopping, cooking (and eating!) and cycling my little blue bike.
Bookroo: What is your favorite food?
Emma: Chocolate of course! And roast dinners.
Bookroo: What’s one item on your bucket list?
Emma: To see the Northern Lights. We went to Iceland to see them one year but it was too cloudy to see them!!
Bookroo: Do you have any upcoming books you can tell us about?
Emma: Yes! I’ve worked on another title recently: ‘Over the River and Through the Wood.’ It is my take on the classic thanksgiving poem, I really loved creating some wintry landscapes for that one - it comes out next August.
We really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Emma and her work as an illustrator. You can see more of her work on her website. And please let us know what you enjoyed from the interview in the comments below!
(All images in this interview courtesy of Emma Randall.)