A Day In The Life Of James Davies
1. Can you give us a little bit of your background?
I was raised in the muddy Welsh countryside, and since I’ve always lived really far away from everyone, drawing has always been a great companion. I started drawing tractors as soon as I could pick up a pencil, and haven’t stopped since. I graduated in 2009 from UWE Bristol. There, I realised that picture books were where I wanted to be, so that’s what I’ve been aiming for since. I’m happy to say it’s finally paid off!
2. Did anything in particular make you go into illustration?
I just love drawing, simple as that. And I’m not cool enough to be a rock star.
3. What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from my environment. I live on a kind of animal sanctuary, full of rescued creatures with various “special” conditions. My characters are always based around them and their stories, I find them fascinating. When I work, I try to make pieces that I would have loved as a kid; full of details, with new things to find every time you look. Oh, and I love Mr. Bean.
4. How do you work?
My work all starts with pencil drawings, which are usually done in bits over numerous sheets of printer paper (I get a bit anal when I try to do it all in one). I then add some shading in with coloured pencil or watercolour, then scan it in. In Photoshop I stick in the midtones and highlights, then stick on some textures – usually more pencil scans.
All this between changing the cat litter, eating rice pudding, and doubting myself.
I listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I work, and a good dose of Radio 4 (when it’s not melodramatic period drama full of crying.)
5. What’s your favourite medium to work with?
I recently discovered coloured pencil, which I’ve somehow avoided until now. I got a beautiful set of Caran Dache “Supracolour Soft” watercolour pencils and my work’s improved since. Can’t beat the trusty 0.5mm Pentel P205 pencil though, it’s always with me.
6. Which piece of work are you most proud of?
My first attempt at a picture book; Monster and Grub. It’s not my best work by any means, but it got a Highly Commended award in the Macmillan Prize and made it really clear that picture books were something I could do.
7. What are you up to right now?
Suddenly it’s all taken off! I signed last summer with the Bright Agency, who are the nicest bunch of people I’ve ever met. They’ve been so encouraging, and I currently find myself working on loads at once. Super busy until the summer. I also spend a lot of time walking our eight dogs and talking to the three cats about their lives.
8. Anything else you think we should know?
I can’t burp.