Between the Pages with…Lisa Knowles

4 months ago by

In this interview series we sit down with some of the illustrators and designers behind some of Aotearoa NZ’s self published books to learn more about their illustration processes, book print designs, and tips for self publishing. 

This week we chatted with Lisa Knowles, the illustrator behind Me and My Quirks

This series is proudly sponsored by Bookprint.


Kia ora Lisa. Can you share with us a little about yourself and your creative background?

Kia ora Jess. I was born and raised in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. After moving around the North Island for my husband’s work, we have now re-settled back in Tauranga and we couldn’t be happier. I’m a mum to a teenage son, two little ones aged 3 & 4 and a well kept 10 year old bull terrier, I can’t leave her out. My creative background started from a young age, art has always been my ‘thing’ but I never pursued it as a career until 2 years ago when I realised just how much it was missing from my life. I’ve been experimenting and consistently practicing since then, both digitally and traditionally. 

Walk us through the message of Me and My Quirks and how you came onboard with the project.

Me and My Quirks is a children’s picture book about autism, aimed to raise awareness and foster acceptance. It’s written by Hannah Hamilton for her son Hugo who is diagnosed autistic. Originally she wanted a way to explain to Hugo’s friends at daycare why he does the things he does, how he thinks and why, the book has really reached so many more families, daycares and schools than we could have ever imagined, it’s absolutely incredible. Hannah and I have been best friends since we were young teens (20 ish years, yikes!) I also love and adore Hugo, so I was beyond honoured when she approached me to illustrate her book she had written for him. 

What was your process like for creating and developing the look and feel of the story? How did you decide on what medium to use? What were you hoping to communicate through your illustration style?

The look and feel for the illustrations were really directed by Hugo and what he was interested in, luckily he has great taste like his mum! He particularly loves old school Disney, 2D graphics with clean and saturated colours. Hannah also wanted illustrations that wouldn’t date, fun yet relatable and interesting but not overwhelming. The story captured in the illustrations is of Hugo’s day-to-day life as a 3 year old, his home and his surroundings. My overall goal with my illustrations was to communicate acceptance, inclusivity and relatability in a clear and non-abstract way.

I decided to create the illustrations digitally on my iPad using Procreate, as that’s what I’ve been using for the past two years. It also made proofing via email so easy for Hannah and I. Being able to reuse imagery for marketing was also a real bonus.


Was Me and My Quirks the first book you’ve illustrated? If so, what did you learn from the book design process?

Yes, Me and My Quirks is the first book I have illustrated. I learnt just how much work/time goes into illustrating a book, rookie right ?! Every step of the process was new and a learning curve. Fortunately I had a good handle on Procreate and some knowledge of printing and layout terms, that really helped. I also learnt the importance of having an overall plan such as colour palette, themes, cohesiveness and storyboarding with initial sketches from the beginning, luckily this was something Hannah and I nailed down very early on in the process, most adjustments were made in this beginning phase, prior to starting the actual illustrations. 

I also learnt, the hard way, the importance of being super clear on what’s required from the printer, such as layout dimensions, bleeds, overall layout and how to supply the files, I charged ahead assuming I knew, whoops. It’s not complicated information but it is something that can cause headaches if wrong when working in a program such as Procreate that is raster based, resizing can cause pixelation issues, the only way to fix that is drawing new line art. Having good habits with keeping your layers organised (and named) so you can find and move things around easily if needed and reuse line art throughout the book, that’s a job in and of itself but something I learnt the importance of. Next time will be much more streamlined. 


What were some of the challenges you faced while illustrating this story?

The biggest challenge for me was time management. It really was a labour of love. So many hours went into every page. It was a real juggle as a mum to two toddlers who were with me 24/7. Finding uninterrupted creative time to focus sometimes just couldn’t happen.
Also, the rumours in the art world are true, drawing hands and feet is hard! 

Why did you and the author ultimately opt to print your book within Aotearoa, rather than overseas? 

Hannah is really proactive in supporting other New Zealand businesses. She and her husband, Eugene, own and operate their restaurant, Franklins Bar & Eatery in Pukekohe, and understand first hand the importance of supporting each other in business, even more so since Covid has harshly impacted everyone over the last couple of years. Bookprint was a great choice. 

Lastly, any other advice you can share for artists/illustrators/designers interested in illustrating their first book someday?

Don’t let the details stop you from starting. There is so much free information out there, definitely take advantage of that but my advice is not to get stuck chasing more and more information, looking at too many illustration styles and tutorials. Once you know critical information from your printer, make a start. Staying clear on the purpose and intent behind the book will always keep you on the right path. 

I also want to add the cheesy art reminder that is actually true but hard to hear as a perfectionist; “your art is always good enough”. There is room for us all. 

Where can we find you online?

https://www.Instagram.com/lisaknowlesart

You can find Me and My Quirks at: 

https://www.Instagram.com/me_and_my_quirks
www.MeandMyQuirks.com

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