There are many things I wish I could do and being able to draw is one of them. I am rather envious of people that can. But I also admire them. It’s a brave thing to do; put yourself – your work – out there for all to judge, isn’t it? It must be thrilling and petrifying all at once.
Madi is one such illustrator. She penned (pencilled? photoshopped?) our lovely Green Door Bookshop logo up there *points up*. See? I love it.
I love Madi’s stuff, love her style and wanted to find out more.
How did you end up doing what you do, becoming an illustrator?
Art was always my favourite subject at school – I studied Fine Art to A Level, and spent my time producing incredibly detailed gouache paintings. My art foundation course pushed me to experiment more and break out of my comfort zone – it was during this year that I started incorporating different materials and textures into my work for the first time.
I realised that I especially enjoyed creating work that was aimed at children. It was then that I decided I wanted to study illustration more than anything in the world!
Had you always wanted to write a children’s book?
When I was aged seven-and-three-quarters (I know this because I’ve written it proudly on the ‘About the author’ page inside the front cover!), I wrote and illustrated my first children’s book – totally handmade, all written and drawn on pages of yellow card, and sewn together with wool. I continued to create books throughout my childhood, and wrote stories well into my early teens.
Is Jake – the character in ‘A little bit scared of …’ – based on someone you know?
In my family, although I was the eldest, my little brother was the more confident, cheeky kid. I was always a very shy, nervous child. Consciously, Jake wasn’t based on anyone specifically, but I can definitely see characteristics from my younger self reflected in him.
I know from experience that children can be horrible to each other at school, so I wanted the story to show little ones that – although there may be things about them that they feel alone with, or that other people pick on them for – these people also have fears, worries or anxieties. It’s just that you might not know about them.
What have you learnt from the experience of self-publishing a book?
Self-publishing was a last resort as I really wanted to make my book available to the children I’d created it for! In that respect, I am grateful that self-publishing is an option. But in terms of cost, it’s awful. It’s so expensive to have each copy of my book printed and delivered, which means I have to price it much higher than I would like to.
It makes me sad as I’d hate to think that potential customers are put off, assuming I’m trying to make a massive profit. In reality, the total opposite is true, and I wish more than anything it was possible to price the book more reasonably.
What are your all-time favourite children’s books?
As a child, I loved Shirley Hughes’s books – all the Alfie stories – and Jill Murphy’s books including Whatever Next and Peace At Last. I also still have battered, well-loved, copies of Peepo and Each Peach Pear Plum saved from my childhood – two classic Ahlberg picture books, which I hope to share with my own children one day.
What are your dreams for Madi Illustration?
In the short term, I think adding to the range of cards, prints and illustrated goodies available in my shop is my main goal. It’s my dream to design a card which ends up being sold in Paperchase!
In terms of the future though, I think I’d like to focus more on projects which mean my illustrations will be interacted with by children. From the very start of my aspirations to become an illustrator, it was always children I wanted to illustrate for and, despite creating illustrations for a whole range of different audiences over the past few years, it’s still the work I create for children which makes me happiest. Children’s books and colouring pages and projects which encourage children to be creative are definitely the direction I’d like to go.
You can buy ‘A little bit scared of …’ for the special price of £5.75 for a limited period only.