Bethany Straker: What I love about Illustrating
When I was a child, my favourite part of the day was after dinner, when horrible school was forgotten, and I could run up to my room and start drawing. I’d listen to my favourite music and draw witches, wizards, monsters and old people – I loved to draw wrinkles. As I was unhappy at school, it was the chance to completely lose myself and switch off. It was the ultimate chance for me to unwind and forget about the teachers, the work and the exams.
Now that I’ve had my son, I have very little time to illustrate, but I’ve been able to work on some fun projects in the first year of my son’s life. Minecraft covers, joke books and fun history books have been wonderful projects I can do in the evenings that do the same thing they did when I was at school – allow me to completely unwind from the day, and a moment to forget about my other responsibilities. It’s like a good talk with a friend or a relaxing hot bath. Unless I have an unrealistic deadline, I can really sink into it and turn up the music (not too loud, I don’t want to wake the baby!)
To me, a brand new pen on a stark white page is like the first sip of cold wine on a hot day. I enjoy that crisp, clean line you get with the first use. Strangely, when I was younger I used biros a lot, even though they can drag and throw out blotches of ink when you least expect. I don’t use them much anymore, perhaps I should – it reminds me of graffitying an exercise book at school and trying to draw the logo of my favourite band when I was 15.
Of course, illustrating isn’t always such a relaxing and satisfying thing to do, sometimes it can be frustrating and I can feel insecure about my work or rushed before a deadline. But now I’m a mum, it’s a wonderful treat and something I can’t wait to do with my son at the kitchen table in a few years time.
BETHANY STRAKER is an illustrator and designer working in Kent and London. She is currently working on 6 picture books for Skyhorse publishing and currently has a book out written by Isabel Atherton, called ‘Zombie Cat: The Tale of a Decomposing Kitty’. Her new books include a book she wrote called ‘The Funny Bunny Fly’, ‘A Curious Robot on Mars!’ written by James Duffett-Smith and ‘Smelly Ghost’ by Isabel Atherton. Previously, Bethany has illustrated for magazines for Disney, CMP Information, Bliss magazine, the National Magazine Company and GoGo’s Crazy Bones. You can see some examples of her work on her website, www.bethanystraker.com
I’ve just ordered ‘Why Am I Scared of Everything’ by Bethany as a result of enjoying this post and then visiting her website. Ms Straker looks like an interesting and talented author and illustrator.