I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree: Day 2

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I am thrilled that Childtastic Books is the second stop on the blog tour of I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon. This is a wonderful and remarkable collection of 365 poems – one for each day of the year – which deserves a place in every children’s library and every child’s bookshelf.

A proper review will be coming soon, but today I am honoured to welcome Frann to Childtastic Books to talk about her daily life as an illustrator and how she achieves such stunning artwork. Enjoy!

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For the past 4 years I have been lucky enough to work in an amazing shared creative space in South London near where I live. Whirled Art studio is based in a railway arch and is connected to a wonderful independent cinema. The studio space is packed with fantastically creative people, including illustrators, animators, painters, carpenters and even a stained-glass designer, all working alongside each other.

Nestled in a shared open plan studio is the little corner where I work every day. Every few minutes a train passes overhead and the whole place creaks. A shower of dust can often accompany this and the occasional small chunk of brick can hit your head. But I like to think it helps keep me awake after hours at my desk.

Frann desk
Frann’s desk

I would love to be the kind of person who keeps their workspace in perfect order, but my studio is very much a chaotic creative mess! I do, however, love to keep lots of images up to inspire me. I’m surrounded by both my own illustrations and the images of other inspiring illustrators whose work I love.

The majority of my illustration is done digitally using Photoshop. I also use a Wacom Cintiq computer screen to help create the images. I can draw directly onto the Wacom screen using a special pen, which I use to incorporate digital brushes into my work.

frann drawing on screen

I also create a lot of texture and drawing by hand. These are then scanned in and manipulated digitally to get my end result. I love the process of mixing traditional illustration mediums with the speed and flexibility of working digitally too.

I have a vast collection of Children’s books both at home and also at my studio. I love having my favourite illustrators close at hand to inspire me while I work. 

Through the lengthy process of creating the 334 illustrated pages for ‘I Am the Seed That Grew The Tree’, I needed a lot of reference for the different species I was drawing. I found it helpful to use books such as Birds of the British Isles, books first published by Warner in 1920. They contain many beautiful reference images.

I spent many years as an illustrator living and working in the same room which is the reality for a lot of people struggling to pay rent on a home and a studio simultaneously. When I finally got my own studio space, it did wonders for my productivity. While I was creating this latest book I also had a newborn at home, so the peace and quiet afforded me at my studio was an invaluable break from the exhaustion of being a new mum. It gives my day more structure and it offers the chance to be around other creatives in what can often be a very solitary job. Wonderful spaces like this are in short supply in London and I feel very lucky to have access to my own space to dedicate to being creative.

frann at desk

Thank you, Frann, for a fascinating insight into your work and your inspirations. 

Check out the book’s next stop on the blog tour tomorrow at Get Kids Into Books!

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