Friday, August 10, 2012

Interview - Kim Fleming

Kim Fleming's drawings are the kind of images that can't help but make you smile: so sweet and happy, cute (oh, so cute!) and highly engaging for kids and adults alike. She is an experienced and accomplished illustrator, with a distinctive style but an impressive ability to work on a diversity of illustration projects. Her work has appeared in many educational books as well as editorial for magazines. Her first trade picture book is True Blue Santa (written by Anne Mangan) and she has another book scheduled for later this year. I can't wait to check it out. On top of all this, she's also a brand new mum! Please welcome the lovely Kim Fleming!

Kim Fleming (all images courtesy of the illustrator)

Tell us a bit about yourself, your work and achievements.

I’ve always loved drawing and painting and was making my parents drag me off to art classes from the age of 6. I got my grounding in oil painting where I learned from a great teacher who taught me about composition, light and shade, etc - all the basics. We were painting landscapes from photos we found in books, and she said I always picked the most unusual and slightly bizarre images! On into university I studied everything from photography to animation, which stood me in good stead for getting my first job as a ‘tweener’ at a software company in my 20’s (I drew all the in-between frames for the keyframes that were done by the ‘real’ animators).

by Kim Fleming

In my mid 20’s I moved to Australia (from Canada originally) and there wasn’t much hand drawn-animation I could find in Melbourne (I probably just didn’t know where to look). So I taught myself graphic design and worked freelance doing that for a while, and later fell into doing illustration for children. I have worked on many educational books, and had my first ‘real’ children’s book published in 2010 by HarperCollins. I have another one coming out this year with Big Sky Press in the USA.

by Kim Fleming

Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator or did you come to it later? What steps did you take to make it happen?

Even though I have always been creatively-inclined, this wasn’t always encouraged as a ‘viable’ way to spend one’s life. My first 2 years of university were spent under the delusion that I should be studying Calculus and Physics (no joke, I got up to Calculus IV and thought I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer! But those brain cells have long since atrophied...)

by Kim Fleming

I then came to my senses, took a semester off and worked at a photography studio, and went to art school where I was much more at home. But it wasn’t until I moved to Australia and had to sort of reinvent myself that I discovered there was this job called an ‘illustrator’. While freelancing doing graphic design I was still looking for a more permanent job, and I answered an ad in the paper to illustrate someone’s children’s book and got the job! And that is my humble beginning in the illustration world. I loved the process, and didn’t look back. I got a folio together, started to pound the pavement, and began working as an illustrator in publishing. 

by Kim Fleming

What is a typical day for you? How do you balance different tasks (eg. creative work, administration, parenting, etc)?

These days, all day every day is spent looking after my 2-month old son, and I get to squeeze in a bit of sketching or art here or there at the end of the day if I’m not too tired. But before that, I worked part time doing graphic design, and the rest of the time illustrating for magazines or publishers. There wasn’t too much administration as I only took on one book at a time. It will be interesting to see what balance emerges between creativity and parenting as my son gets older....

by Kim Fleming

How do you go about developing ideas for new work? Do you often work to a brief? And if so, what is your process for tackling it?

Sketching is the best way of developing new ideas I find. I’ll start with one idea and that will lead to something else (which is often better). I don’t often work to a brief as generally book illustration is left open (thank goodness) or I am illustrating an article so the task is obvious, or it is self-motivated work. Sometimes though I find I sit down to sketch and nothing comes out. That’s when I go for a walk or surf the net and get jealous, um, I mean inspired, by all the other amazing talented artists out there.

by Kim Fleming

What books, people, places, things etc inspire you?

Anything and everything really. Following my nose on the blogosphere and checking out my peers’ amazing achievements. Looking through books of classics. Fabric patterns, scrapbooking papers, something I hear on the radio. And I’m sure my son will be a pretty big inspiration very soon :)

by Kim Fleming

What are your favourite tools/materials for creating?

I almost always use watercolours and coloured pencil, but may also add in collage, ink, acrylics or anything else that may be to hand at the time!

Kim Fleming's studio space

Thank you for your time, Kim! Your story is inspiring and your work is gorgeous.

Please see more of Kim's work at her website and on her blog.
Follow Kim on Twitter.