Pippa Mayell is the wonderful illustrator of our Hello, My Name is Bunny! chapter book series. She has brought to life Bunny’s epic adventures in New York City, London, and Paris with her charming illustrations. Here’s some things you might like to know about her process, inspiration, and her advice for budding artists:
How did you go about bringing Bunny’s character to life in the illustrations?
When Matt & Shelley asked me to create a character that reflected her personality, I started making drawings from her abundant photo references on Instagram and Facebook, and through this began to simplify her markings to create an expression that reflected her kind and adventurous nature. At a certain point we felt her features reflected this, and her ‘spirit’ emerged from the drawing.
Tell us about your creative process?
For me, everything starts with drawing. Through making drawings, things naturally evolve, and I find what I’m looking for, whether it’s a character, or composition, or the initial sketch for a painting. With Bunny’s first adventure in New York, I used a black felt marker, and a pale grey with black ink and pale watercolor washes, creating large A1 drawings. I’ve adapted my style slightly for each book, to reflect the character of each city.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I like to use a wide range of materials, but I love a soft Conte pencil or Derwent drawing pencil to start to connect with my subject. I’d say using watercolor wash or Japanese ‘pan’ watercolors are a favorite to get started. My illustrations tend to rely on a combination of watercolor and felt/ink, while I use oil and acrylic for painting too.
When did you first decide you would be an artist?
I always enjoyed illustrating my school homework, whether stories, nature classes, or life in the Roman forum! I began to be aware of identifying with ‘being an artist’ after a travel-themed jungle painting was pinned to the wall by my art teacher when I was around eight, based on my own journeys to Borneo where I lived at the time. I also used to win the art prize now and again, which helped build confidence in my identity as an artist.
Which artists are you inspired by?
So many! In terms of illustration, Ernest Shepard, Tove Jansson, Charles Schultz, William Blake, Jean de Brunhof, and Pauline Baynes (who illustrated the Narnia books in the 1970’s/early 1980’s). I also love Eric Gurneys illustrations. I recently saw a major exhibition of Mary Fedden’s paintings in Bath, as I love her art. There are so many artists I love: Cezanne, Bonnard, Renoir’s extraordinary color, Hodler, Turner, Whistler, Helen Frankenthaler, the Scottish colorists, St Ives artists, Rodin, Nikolai Astrup, Yvonne Ardissone, John Marin, Barbara Hepworth, and so many more.
What’s your favorite children’s book and why?
I love ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ by A.A Milne, but also ‘The King, the Mice and the Cheese’, and ‘The Digging-est Dog’ both by Nancy and Eric Gurney. I think in those books the illustrations are beautiful and the stories are about qualities of the heart with a good dose of humor! (I also loved the Narnia books when I was ten and developed a taste for Turkish delight from then on!)
What’s your advice to young artists?
Keep drawing every day, find a supportive group or mentor where you can get feedback. Really treasure your need to express your creativity and create a routine space to do this.
To learn more about Pippa and her art, you can visit her website here.