I had the good fortune to be at the Castlemaine State Festival next to Aviva Reed.
Her fabulous and intricate illustrations drew me immediately to her table for a closer look at her work.
Aviva is the Illustrator of Zobi and the Zooxand The Squid, The Vibrio and the Moon. Dr Gillian Dite recently reviewed these children’s science / picture books. (click here for the review)
Aviva’s beautiful illustrations are an enormous part of what makes these books, so unique and wonderful. So it’s time to shine a light on her talent!
Tell us a little bit about yourself please?
I was raised in Sydney, and have moved around a lot since, from Northern NSW to Tasmania. I landed in Melbourne six years ago. I have an 11 year old daughter, train and teach ninjitsu and am a passionate provoker of thought.
Were you always interested in drawing / art?
I have always been interested in art. In high school I did as much as I could and spent most lunchtimes and recesses in the art block.
If I recall correctly your back ground is in science? Did you have any formal art training?
The only formal training in art was high school. I currently have a Bachelor of Science and am about to complete a Master Of Environment. There is a lot of drawing required for the science subjects I completed, such as biology and botany. Drawing from the microscope is a large component of these subjects.
How did you develop your skills as an artist?
I guess you could say I was a compulsive doodler from a child, so I was very comfortable with the pen, as I was always drawing something in my lectures or in my spare time. I certainly explored drawing deeper when I finished my studies and couldn’t wrap my head around what the theory of evolution looked like so I drew it. It was then that I realised I am definitely a visual learner – it allows me to explore the layers and concepts and sit back and reflect on them.
Do you recall how your interest in art / drawing originated?
I guess it was my compulsive doodler behaviour, though perhaps my father being an architect, with the old boards and fancy pens may have been a stimulus.
What motivates you to draw?
I draw from two places. Firstly, I am motivated by nature as muse. This is my science communication type of art. I am currently completing my thesis for my Masters and the subject is “Communicating Science through the Arts”. I think it is a brilliant technique for communicating complex ecology. Secondly, I also have been known to draw from a more poetic and emotional place. I guess that work is my therapy art, I do it to process my experiences.
What advice would you have for young artists seeking to earn their living as artists – either as book illustrators or elsewhere?
Keep drawing, and draw with passion. Find your mind’s eye and go with it.
Regarding your art, do you have a favourite medium to work with?
I do love watercolour and ink and beautiful paper.
How much of your artwork is drawn / painted digitally? If you use this medium has it changed your work process?
I don’t use a digital layer. I find that my style, which I developed prior to Photoshop, is quite similar to the layering effects of Photoshop, but when I try on computer I get frustrated. I would rather do it by hand.
Do you have a favourite type of art project?
I love art that beckons an emotional response and communicates things otherwise not known or thought about.
Does developing art work for a children’s book necessitate differences in the things you consider when creating your work?
My art for children’s books definitely defines my work, rather than drawing from my own thoughts and heart, but I definitely have a style that surfaces in all my work.
Are you currently working on another project? Can you tell us about it?
Currently I am illustrating another children’s book called The Sweeper about an old man sweeper of a town who looses his will to sweep and the town slowly is buried in dust.
How do you deal with juggling your career and all your other commitments?
I am not sure I am pulling it off, though I guess its just hard work. I try and make sure my commitments and work are things I feel passionately about.
How much research did you need to do for the illustrations involved in Zobi and the
Zoox and The Squid, The Vibrio and the Moon?
Both these books were the result of a mammoth collaborate team, all with different skills and disciplines. The books draw on the expertise of scientists, writers, artists and educators. For Zobi and the Zoox, the small friends team went to the Great Barrier Reef, met with marine biologists, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and snorkelled the reef.