Child of Galaxies - 5 Questions for Charlotte Ager
Big congratulations on being shortlisted for the Klaus Flugge prize this year for your beautiful illustrations for Child of Galaxies by Blake Nuto, especially as it’s your debut picture book, you must be thrilled! I’d be so grateful if you can take the time to answer these five questions for the readers of Armadillo Magazine.
Can you tell us where you were when you heard the news that you had been shortlisted for the prize, and what your reaction was?
I think I was at my desk having a week of feeling pretty down about my work but getting the email made me feel so honoured and humbled. It gave me a real boost of confidence.
Whereabouts do you work when illustrating, can you paint us a picture of your studio set up?
I now work from a home studio in South London which I love, I like having all my materials close to me and the ability to work whenever I want. I have a big desk full of pencils and paints and colours. It’s got a lovely view of a hill and big green trees I can stare out at.
‘Child of Galaxies’ uses very poetic and beautiful language. How did you choose the direction in which you would take the illustrations?
I simply reacted by drawing lots of different ideas rather than worrying too much about how they would join up. Lily and Emily at Flying Eye played a big part in helping me extract which rough drawings would work and the sequence of them. I think the nature of the book allows for a vast range of imagery, it’s poetic but also rooted in everyday life and I felt the illustrations should reflect this. So the scenes border on the real and imagined world.
The illustrations you have created for the book are really colourful and full of character and texture. I love the variety of different scenes you chose to include in the book. Can you tell us about your illustration process?
Thank you! My process changes quite a lot but with this book, because it was my first picture book, I worked on hand rendered elements and then digitally layered them. I wanted to have the freedom to not feel too precious over drawings and feel like I could make changes easily which this method allowed. However, colour comes quite instinctively, I often find when I try and think about it too much it becomes bland. There’s something magic about colour to me, though there are apparently ‘rules’ they don’t always work, and sometimes a combination of colours just feels great.
Finally, can you tell us about any new projects you’re working on, and what we can keep an eye out for in the future?
I’m having a bit of a slow down and rethink at the moment. Since graduating I’ve taken most of the jobs I’ve been offered to make life as an illustrator work. Though it’s been great, I feel like I now want to be more in control of how I use my time. I feel the pull for my work to be more purposeful when our planet is under such great strain and people across the world are living increasingly difficult lives. I hope I can work on more projects that support and communicate the need for change.
Many thanks for your time, and best of luck for the announcement of the winner of the Klaus Flugge prize.