Natalie Hughes lives her globetrotting illustrations for 2015 Map Colouring Book
Over four months, Bright Illustrator Natalie Hughes spent her time travelling to the most beautiful places around the world – South East Asia, America, Australia and New Zealand – to gather inspiration for her newest illustrated publication The Map Colouring Book – A World of Things to Colour (Buster Books). Bright managed to catch up with the globetrotting creative to find out what inspired her global illustrations as she spoke about her exotic adventures and upcoming projects.
1. Natalie, you recently published ‘The Map Colouring Book – A World of Things to Colour’ with Buster Books (July 2015) – during the book’s creation you yourself were traveling the globe. Can you say you were inspired by the places you saw?
It definitely inspired me loads, and made the whole process more interesting! I drew all the maps while I was flying to America. I’m pretty scared of flying, so drawing helped me relax and forget I was on a plane! I did the rest of the drawings while travelling around Bali, Australia and New Zealand. I was so lucky to be travelling and working at the same time, it was kind of a dream of mine to do that. It was also definitely a challenge. There were times when it was difficult to concentrate with all the beautiful scenery right outside my door, in tact I didn’t even have a desk at times and was working al fresco…it was all very nomadic! My favourite location to work was in this lovely old caravan by the beach in New Zealand, I had a cat called Fang for company and spent my lunch break walking on the beach…can’t ask for more than that!
2. Did certain places/landmarks that you saw in person make their way into your illustrations?
Yes! The Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, the Twelve Apostles of South Australia, and the Maori carvings of New Zealand.
3. How long did the project take to complete?
I worked on it over 4 months, by the end I had stacks and stacks of drawings, I couldn’t even fit them all in my suitcase on the way home. Luckily I have a nephew and niece over there who were happy to look after them for me and colour them in.
4. What was your favourite culture to illustrate?
I really enjoyed drawing the people and cultures of South East Asia, especially Bali. I loved their colourful and decorative clothing, and they were the smiliest people I’ve ever met! It’s a shame I didn’t get to draw all the food, I certainly sampled a lot of it. Yum.
I also really loved learning about the many cultures I haven’t experienced…the Africa pages were so much fun to do, because there are so many different tribes and cultures.
5. Where was the most notable country or setting that you visited – and would recommend to other creatives looking for creative adventure?
California is a stunning and crazy place: awesome for creative people looking for inspiration, whether it’s the unique characters you meet along the way, or the looovely scenery. For me you can’t beat an American road trip! I loved the big open, peaceful spaces as well as the cities. There’s definitely lots of opportunities as a creative person as well, especially in San Francisco. If I could move anywhere it would be there.
6. Would you say that by immersing yourself into a project like this – actually ‘living the story’ – helped you capture the drawings?
It definitely helped make the book feel more real I suppose, having experienced some of the people and places. I hope my passion for travel came across in my drawings, because I really loved doing them. If anything it just made me want to travel even more. I find drawing from real life experience always helps to make a drawing a bit more personal, even if it’s just something small, it makes you connect to the project more, and hopefully you do your best work then.
7. What are your upcoming projects?
I’m actually working on the second book in the series for Buster Books! It will be another Map Colouring Book but this time will feature all the wildlife and plants of the world.
I’m also working on some educational projects for Oxford University Press, and hoping to squeeze in some time to develop a picture book idea I have… I’m loving working on all these colouring books, but I’d also love to publish a straight forward picture book, so I can do some of the colouring in myself!