Interview with Aleksandra Szmidt

October 30th, 2019

When did you decided you wanted to become an illustrator, what prompted this?

I have always felt a need or a drive to be connected to art in some way, but for a long time I wasn’t sure what the best path was for me to take, or what kind of art I wanted to do most. But when I moved to New Zealand several years ago it finally became clear to me that what I wanted to do most was draw for children’s books – and I haven’t looked back.

What was your favourite childhood book?

Peter Pan!

If you could tell your younger self any advice, what would it be?

Always trust your intuition and believe in yourself, even if people don’t understand your decisions.

How did you come up with the character designs?

Some illustrators like to create a lot of preliminary sketches before they decide on how their characters should look. I do exactly the same with my imagination! I don’t like to do a lot of sketches on paper but I’m doing it in my mind. So the first stage of creating illustrations for me looks like I’m daydreaming :p

How has your background and location shaped your work?

Growing up I read a lot of books from an early age – I think this is where my love of stories and illustration comes from.

Are there any people who you think have helped or inspired you to improve as an artist?

Of course! On every title I have every worked I have met people who helped me improve my skills through feedback and advice, such as art directors, authors, graphic designers, and publishers. Because of this I feel I am constantly growing and improving as an artist.

What is your working process?

After receiving the book manuscript and reading it, I spend some time just thinking and reenacting the story in my mind. Sometimes this takes a few hours, sometimes a few days. During this time my imagination creates and solidifies the scenes and the characters in my mind. Once these mental images are clear to me, I then know exactly what I want to draw. Next I submit rough monochrome sketches to the art director, author, or publisher and after some discussion and improvements approval is given and I can proceed with my favourite part of the process – creating the full colour illustrations! When I am creating the sketches I have to be really focused – I can’t even listen to music – for me it’s the most difficult stage which requires 100% concentration. But colourisation stage is completely different for me – I find it really relaxing and an almost unconscious process, during which I can listen to music while I colour.

If you didn’t illustrate, what would you do instead?

I even don’t want to think about this – I can’t imagine ever doing anything else! The only thing I want to do is to be best illustrator I can :)

What’s been your favourite feedback?

I’m really happy about each and every bit of feedback I receive – it really helps me. Even when occasionally the feedback is difficult to accept or not flattering I really appreciate it – it gives me the opportunity to improve my skills and see my illustrations from other people’s point of view.

Finally, give us a fun fact about yourself that nobody knows!

I love the rain, the autumn and the sea – these are the most inspiring things for me!


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