Freya Blackwood

Freya BlackwoodDelighted to welcome prolific illustrator Freya Blackwood to My Book Corner. Winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal (2010), Freya’s unique style has brought to life stories such as The Terrible Suitcase, Clancy & Millie and most recently … The Treasure Box.

Over to Freya …

Tell us about you in 25 words or less.

I’m the mother of a gorgeous 6 year old girl, a collector of bright, special things which clutter my house and life but make it very cosy and I’m also an illustrator of children’s books.

What makes you happy?

Floating in my parent’s dam, Ivy getting up in the morning, the moment you spot the ocean after a 12 hour drive to the coast, discovering Ivy’s drawings, managing to actually get work done and the moment I work out what a book should look like.

Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet?

I’ve always wanted to see Sydney back in the 1800s, though maybe not smell it.

Where is your favourite place to illustrate/write?

My studio. It’s my special place that’s just mine and when in it I feel free of all my responsibilities and relax and must then remind myself to work.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

The one thing that frequently irks me is our society’s desire for money, comfort and disposable possessions, regardless of the far reaching environmental implications.

What’s the best thing about being a published author/illustrator?

I love seeing my books travel. I don’t get to travel much myself, but they do.

Who or what inspires you?

My mum, definitely. My daughter – she’s crazily creative. The books I read with my daughter, Miyazaki films, stop motion animations, the work of my favourite illustrators, and the people, animals and places in my life.

What is your worst habit?

I have many bad habits, but the worst habit is collecting things, lovely old crockery particularly, which is made even worse by my mother who likes collecting things for me.

You have illustrated an awesome variety of books – were there any that were particularly challenging for any reason?

I find the sombre books a challenge because after months of intense work, isolated in my backyard studio, the mood of a book tends to rub off on me. The book that stands out at the moment (for all are challenging in their own way and my memory is not good) is The Treasure Box. It was a difficult subject for starters, but when I decided to challenge myself by working in a different way, in the hope of creating something special for this story, I introduced a few complications. And these really tested my technical abilities and emotional stability! I created the illustrations on various layers, with foreground elements cut out and set above background plates, a little like paper dioramas. Once photographed the illustrations are enhanced by subtle shadow and depth. The end result is very quiet and gentle, which suits this story, I think.

Just for fun

Tea or coffee? Both, but coffee is my favourite

Paper books or e-books? I haven’t read anything as an ebook yet, so paper.

Vegemite or Marmite? Neither. I like Promite.

Write or type? Write. This is how I collect my thoughts.

Poetry or prose? Prose

Beach or bush? Beach, but then the bush can be so beautiful. Bush next to the beach. Is that allowed?

Hot or cold? I love swimming, which is horrible in the cold, so hot. But not too hot. Am I allowed that?

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