Kelly: The majority of the illustrations in Little Things are created with paper cut pieces and set up in a diorama setting. I love the process of paper cutting and constructing dioramas, its beautiful to watch the scene take shape and develop. I start the process with an idea in mind, of how I want the end result to look. I sketch it out,
Kelly: Thank you so much, that’s very kind of you! I’m overjoyed that it was my debut picturebook. I have an amazing agent, Abigail Samoun with Red Fox Literary. She is incredible, so supportive and tenacious! She contacted me with the manuscript and I fell in love with it immediately. I was so nervous, sending in samples, I was worried that they would decide in the end to go with a different illustrator. So when Abi sent me the contract details, I literally yelped for joy! Then I cried tears of joy, haha. I have wanted to illustrate a children’s book since I was very small so this was a dream come true. I believe though it is a result of hard work, persistence, amazing support from my husband and family, and an incredible agent who believes in what you do.
Kelly: For me, there isn’t one unique story behind the art creation for Little Things, but a accumulation of many stories. As I created it, I was reminded of so many lovely memories of my childhood – exploring my mum’s garden, painting rocks, playing dress up with my sister, playing in our fort. I kept thinking too about my niece, Emerson. I think of her all the time anyways, but when I created the art, I kept thinking about what she would notice in the world around her. She will be seven this year and is the most incredible little human. She is constantly reminding me in her own way, to slow down, and take in what’s around me.
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e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Kelly: There are illustrations that I can picture with my eyes closed - they seem to nestle into my being and stay with me. I think the magic of these illustrations lies in that they connect with a part of me – maybe something from my childhood, or a memory of a place I’ve been, or even something in the not so distant past. There is a book I found once, a lovely book about a young boy who had lost his mum and is grieving with his father. The art is so beautiful, and it evokes such strong emotions. And I believe that anyone that reads this book, that looks at the art, would feel a connection with it. We have all lost someone dear and close to us, and illustrations like that, that give us comfort and communion, that to me is Heart Art. To me they are magical because they remind us of our humanness, of our connection with one another.
Kelly: I am very fortunate to work with my agent Abi. She is regularly marketing my artwork and creating connections. I wouldn’t be in this place today without her. I have a portfolio and biography page on the Red Fox Literary website. I am also on Instagram, which has also been a very positive experience for me. I try to post regularly which I think is worthwhile if you are able. The community of artists and creatives on Instagram is very supportive.
Kelly: I tend to be quite hard on myself and critical – which I don’t think is necessarily a negative thing. I think it pushes you to work hard and keep at something until you are happy with it. But I’m slowly learning to accept that I am human and perfection doesn’t exist. That sometimes I need to sit back and just take a break and that’s ok. But I sometimes wonder who I would be if I didn’t illustrate? It is so much a part of me. I love creating, I love the whole process – from imagining something, to sketching it, cutting out and creating a scene from it. I can’t really say if I have a favourite part, I adore the whole process.
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e: Is there something in particular about Little Things you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Kelly: I feel so honoured to be apart of Little Things. I know that the story meant a great deal to Nick, and it does to me as well. While working on it, I felt the child-like part of my being erupting forth. I suddenly started to notice the small, little things. And I think they are things I have been taking for granted or have been moving too quickly to notice. I know that life can be so busy and demanding. But I hope if someone reads Little Things it will give them an opportunity to pause and take in the little things around them too – because those little things can give us so much joy. Knowing Little Things gave the reader joy would fill my heart to bursting point.
Kelly: I recently finished illustrating a book project, which will be out in September of this year. I am just in the process of finishing up the illustrations for another new book project that I can’t share too much about yet...but I’m really excited about it so stay tuned! I will announce on my Instagram when both are available. I would love to at some point to illustrate a pop up book – those were my favourite books as a child. I would also love to eventually write and illustrate a book.
Thank you so much Elizabeth for this wonderful opportunity! I am honoured and very excited, and greatly appreciate you taking the time to speak with me about Little Things.
e: Lovely to have you on, Kelly! I can't wait to see the new book too!