Behind the Book: Laura Hughes Shares “We’re Going on an Egg Hunt”

Laura Hughes Lead

Recently the gloom and chill of January has had us yearning for sunny spring days. Luckily we’ve caught a glimpse Laura Hughes’ upcoming We’re Going on an Egg Hunt, a book so beautiful and bright it has lifted our spirits! Laura has been lovely enough to chat with us and share some artwork from this lift-the-flap Easter title, and we just know young readers everywhere will delight in helping her troupe of bunnies find gorgeous pastel colored eggs.

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt publishes on February 25th with Bloomsbury.

What served as your inspiration for this latest title?

We’re Going on an Egg Hunt was a little unusual compared with my previous books. Usually when I’m commissioned, the publisher will approach me with a pre-existing text and the illustrations will develop from there. Egg Hunt happened in a much more back-to-front fashion, with the characters created before the story. I’d just finished a large commission for Waitrose, illustrating lots of rabbits, chicks, eggs and other spring-themed elements for their 2015 Easter range. My publisher, Bloomsbury, thought the characters would work really well as a book and wrote a new text to fit the pre-existing illustrations.

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How did the illustrations evolve? Can we take a little peek at some early sketches?

The four rabbits that feature throughout the story needed to be able to walk, carry baskets and generally behave in a more human-like way, so the first step was to adapt the characters slightly. As Egg Hunt is a lift the flap book, I had to bear in mind not only the placement of text, but also the positioning of the flaps on each page as I sketched out the spreads. We decided that the artwork would have an echo of the previous and next images to show the journey of the rabbits through the book. There’s also a hint of the wolf on each spread – a suggestion of what’s to come!

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Due to imminent book fair deadlines the rough stage moved along quickly. There are a lot of similar themes in the artwork; with the book following a distinct pattern so this helped to cut the time spent on layouts significantly. The designer of the book, Goldy, was invaluable at this stage and really helped shape the look and feel of the illustrations.

Colour was a fairly straightforward part of the process but by far the most time consuming. There is a great deal of small detail in the book – lots of flowers, grass and insects, so it took quite a while to create each full-bleed spread. There are a few small mistakes in the artwork (see if you can spot them!), but overall I was pleased with the end result and feel that I made a lot of progress with my style.

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What is your creative process? Not just for this project, but when working on general. Do you have any funny habits or rituals that inspire creativity?

I divide my creative week between (messy) painting at my studio and (clean) computer work at home. Having two places to work helps to break up the week and the change of scenery really helps inspire me.

My studio is in a wonderful, custom-built shop space in Hackney Downs called Mama Wolf StudiosI share the space with three other illustrators. We’re also good friends and very supportive of each other.

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When painting I like to listen to podcasts, noisy music, or the radio. My current favourite radio station is NTS – for sheer volume of interesting and new music. If working at home I can usually be found in my pyjamas with my cat on my lap.

What’s up next for you?

I have another new book out in April with Little Tiger Press. It’s called Goodnight Tiger and is written by Timothy Knapman.

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Currently I’m working with Faber & Faber on a new title and the follow up to 2015’s Daddy’s Sandwich.

DADDY'S SANDWICH COVER

I’ll also have my second book with Bloomsbury out early next year!