A Behind the Book Bake Off Special with Clair Rossiter…
For anyone who has waited all year for the next series of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, well... it’s that time of year again!
With this much loved series being back on our screens, 2015 winner, Nadiya Hussain is about to publish her first children’s book with Hachette [released 8th September 2016] combining recipes and stories, and perfectly matched with illustrations by Bright artist Clair Rossiter. Here, we take a look behind the book…
This is not your first picture book collaboration, but I think it’s your first children’s picture/cook book. How did it feel to be working with a TV personality?!
I was so excited to be working with Nadiya on this, I can’t really explain how much it meant to me. This book combines my favourite things as I’ve always had an interest in cookery as well as children’s illustration. It also felt perfectly suited to how I work because I’ve always been interested in mixed-media illustration. This meant that I immediately loved the concept of the book, which is a combination of photography and illustration. It was one of those projects that was almost too good to be true!
Had you been fan of Bake Off previously?
I am definitely a hard-core Bake Off fan and have been for a while — I’ve always enjoyed cookery shows! Like lots of people I became very fond of Nadiya as a contestant and found her genuinely inspiring, so it was really wonderful and quite surreal to be illustrating her book.
You studied at Falmouth – whilst a student did you have a particular area you wanted to specialise in, such as food illustration – or did that come later?
I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with media so I spent a lot of time as a student trying out different techniques and types of illustration. In my second year I began to take a real interest in more specific areas — food illustration being one of them, but since working commercially I’ve wanted to have a go at as many areas of illustration as possible. I’ve learnt not to let a specialism limit you too. A children’s book project in the second year totally put me off that whole area of illustration for a while, until I had the confidence to return to it. I’m glad I did!
Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?
I know loads of illustrators declare that it’s been their passion since birth, but to be honest, pretty much yes. Before I knew what illustration really was, I actually used to tell people that I wanted to be the person who did the drawings on cereal packets! I also considered being an ice-cream taster when I was small, and would still happily do that on the side.
Where do you work? Do you have a studio?
I work from a lovely desk that I’ve squeezed into my bedroom! I’ve made sure it’s a really happy space to work and have surrounded it with ceramics, prints and other bits and pieces that inspire me. It can sometimes be tricky to spend so many hours working on my own, but I’m the most productive and at ease when I’m in my own little world. However, I’ve learnt that it’s good to make a point of getting outside and interacting with other humans on a regular basis!
What advice would you give to anyone just beginning their career in illustration?
Persevere! If you really want this to be your career and you dedicate enough time to it, there’s no reason why it can’t be. Send your artwork out to Art Directors repeatedly and don’t be put off by silence: I’ve had people contact me with work over a year after I’ve sent them samples. You aren’t alone either — believe it or not, there are thousands of illustrators tucked away in sheds and studios doing the same thing.
What inspired your book about Swiss sculptor and artist, Jean Tinguely?
This was actually one of my final projects that I completed in my third year of university. I was keen to do some paper engineering and combine it with non-fiction illustration, which I had a real interest in at that time. I found Jean Tinguely’s work so inspiring, and he was such an eccentric guy so made for a fantastic character to illustrate!
Doing Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story gave me a great taste for illustrating children’s books, and offered me a chance to develop my characterisation too. I’d love to take these parts of my work further and illustrate some more children’s books. Variety is the main aim though, so I really want to continue designing work for greetings cards and editorials too. Most of all I want to keep on learning and trying new things.
Card designs. View more of Clair’s Art Licensing work here.
Clair will be joining us at The Bright Emporium for a story time event on Sunday 4th September. It’s going to be so much fun, with all the cakes and gingerbread men you could dream of!
You can also book your family ticket here.
We look forward to seeing you!