Kim Barnes is in demand, but we caught her for this lovely chat on life as a Bright illustrator!

Kim Barnes is a busy bee – she is always getting projects put her way and her style is in demand, so I had a job catching her! Here’s a lovely insight into Kim’s world of illustration, what makes her tick, and how she started out. 


“Dedicated, reliable and conscientious, Kim is an absolute delight to work with – she goes above and beyond on every project and her artwork is always gorgeous!” (Childrens illustration and fiction Agent, Nicky Lander)

Hi Kim! Firstly, what made you decide to become an illustrator? Was it always something you aspired to be?

I always loved reading books (and looking at the pictures) it was a big part of my life growing up. I originally wanted to be a nurse until I realised that doing what I loved could actually be a career path. So I did a foundation degree in art, discovered illustration – and I’ve never looked back!

As an illustrator, I always feel there comes a point where you can look at your work and say, Yep, I did that and I like it! At what point did you find that you’d developed into the illustrator you’ve become?

I don’t think that you can ever be 100 % happy with your work as you want to keep on improving. Even if I finish a piece and like it, I will look at it a little while after and think – can I improve this? I think being self critical definitely helps with development and it’s always a great feeling the minute you finish a project and you’re happy… until you start a new piece and it happens all over again!


What advice would you give to budding illustrators?

To persevere. You will hear ‘no’, and be knocked back a few times but you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Also –  go out of your comfort zone and grab all the opportunities you can. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t taken a chance on an internship in London. Even though it is one of the most nerve racking things I’ve done, I learnt so much and made many great connections, plus –  it was so much FUN!

What are the benefits of working with an agency?

Many things; having an agent is great and there’s always someone on hand for help and advice – even just a nice chat actually – because being a freelancer can get a bit lonely sometimes. Promotion is also a great bonus as I get to sit and focus on the work and although I do my social media side of things, the pressure of finding the next job is taken away and I always have another job to move onto. It’s a very rare occasion that I don’t have any work to do, which is great. I’m always busy.


Do you have a favourite children’s author/illustrator – someone who inspired you? 

Road Dahl and Quentin Blake; I still have my collection of books from when I was a child. I love that they created fun characters and unique worlds.


Illustration courtesy of Quentin Blake

What was your favourite book as a child?

Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle, by David Elliot. I remember reading it like it was yesterday. I’m a massive fan of books that take you to a magical place, where you feel as if you’re truly there.

Evangeline Mudd

Did you enjoy your school days?

I did enjoy my school days. Looking back it was so much simpler just go to school, come home, do your homework and play! There were no worries, whereas being an adult is hard!


Was there a favourite subject at school (besides art and design)?! 

Geography: In fact I studied it for A-leveI. I don’t know why, but I just loved learning about volcanoes and natural disasters.

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If you won the lottery, what would you do?

I would buy a house in the countryside and buy my Mum and Dad a new home too. Then I think I would take a bit of time off work and go on holiday somewhere hot, where I could just lie by the pool all day and be served drinks! Then I would return home, refreshed and finally ready to get writing and illustrating my own book  – an idea I have been brewing for years – I just haven’t had the time!


If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be?

I actually own 2 cats which are already my dream pets, in fact I wish I could be one! They eat, sleep and get cuddles all day, what could be better?

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Name 3 things you could not live without?

My Fiancé, My Sketchbook, Sunday Roast Dinners.11243002.

Do you play a musical instrument?

When I was at school I think I played every musical instrument that I could, including the violin and the saxophone. I didn’t really stick at it for very long, until in high school I started singing and I went on to be in some local musicals – and now I just sing for fun whilst I work, so it’s a good job I’m the only one in my studio!

What was the last book you read?

Peter Pan, by J.M Barrie; my mum gave me my collection of children’s classics before Christmas and I’m making my way through them again, one by one.

Peter pan


Thanks to Kim!

If you’d like to book Kim Barnes for a project, you can contact our Educational agent, Lucie Luddington, or our children’s picture books and fiction agent, Nicky Lander for more details.