Author and illustrator #Emily Hughes was born in Hawaii and now lives in the United Kingdom. Her artwork has been exhibited across the world. Her book “Nana Shaped Like A Banana” came second in the 2012 Macmillan Prize for Children's Picture Books and her picture book, “Wild,” has been very successful in both the US and the UK. Recently, Emily spoke about her experiences working in the creative arts.

Beginning 

Blasting News (BN): How did you become an illustrator?   

Emily Hughes (EH): I always loved reading and drawing. When I was a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist and make strips for the paper. When I got older I wanted to be a vet or journalist but I had a brilliant art teacher that encouraged me.

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I got to work on a children's book for the business department of my high school and realized I loved the challenge and process of illustrating narrative.

BN: How many books have you published?

EH: “Wild,” “The Little Gardener,” “Brilliant” by Roddy Doyle and “A Brave Bear” by Sean Taylor. Plus, one is in the works and being printed! I'm also working on another, along with two of my own stories.

Process

BN: How did you come up with the ideas for your stories?

EH: Usually ideas just spring up. The more I feed my head- new music, new books, new people, etc.--the more fodder I have. Getting the feel of an idea is easy and instantaneous most times but actually writing and pacing the story is difficult and takes a while. With “The Little Gardener” I was still editing the text after my images were more or less print-ready! With children's books you have so little space physically and visually to tell a story so you have to be clever about paragraphs and placement. 

BN: How did you find Nobrow/Flying Eye?

EH: Flying Eye found me! They wrote me an email on the eve of my graduation.

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They hadn't even announced the company yet so it was a very hush-hush affair in the beginning. The process of publishing with them has been enjoyable and independent since they understand the way I work. I have the freedom that is necessary for me to create joyously and the books always look beautiful. Even when I manage to screw up dimensions or bleeds they manage to work their magic.

Future 

BN: What has been the most rewarding part of being an author and illustrator? 

EH: When the story falls on someone who really takes time to perceive, listen and show empathy to a character or situation in a book, I find that compassion beautiful. A parent of a little girl with autism told me that her daughter really embraced and identified with “Wild” and that made my heart swell since the book brought comfort in some way. Another parent told me that her daughter was having trouble sharing with her new brother and she would make them read “Wild” in the dark during their alone time. It warms me knowing that these books have been used as tools for children and parents to bond together; small things, but happy things.   

BN: Are there any upcoming projects that you want to mention?  

EH: I'm working on a tree house book with Carter Higgins.

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I find trees very exciting so I am pleased to start work on that one!

BN: Where do you hope to be in ten years?

EH: I would like to be in the New Yorker! I would like my style to be confidently simpler than what I am running with now. I think I'll still be drawing but I hope my name won't be regulated to just #Children's Books. I've always wanted to make a graphic novel. I hope I'll have a studio with a lot of light.

BN: What advice would you give to an aspiring author or illustrator? 

EH: My advice is to allways be working, observing and absorbing everything around you. Don't think of petty things like “style,” just have fun and embrace your mistakes. Be yourself in your own artistic meditation. Don't mix your self-worth with the things you create. Own all of what you make, the good and the gristly.

  #Artist