Meet Chloe Bonfield – on the terror and joy of illustrating her own words!
We caught up with Bright artist Chloe Bonfield, author and illustrator of The Perfect Tree published by Running Press, Perseus Books, and illustrator of many other beautiful books. Here are some interesting insights into what makes Chloe tick and how she came up with those all important ideas…
What made you become an illustrator?
For quite a while I wasn’t sure what I was, I thought it was some kind of artist and I made lots of little weird films and even when I was studying illustration I really wasn’t too sure either. But generally everything I did ended in something very narrative, figurative and got there via lots of drawing and little bits of paper. It was always tied together with a story and I got obsessed with stories. Just mad for them. I definitely ate books as a child and images just as much. So it all feels very much like home and natural.
What inspired you to create The Perfect Tree?
Ah it’s such a nice story, at least I think it is. My friends nanny has got two lovely kids called Albie and Ivy. I was going over with my friend Bella to test a book that we were working on together. Bella is a brilliant writer, anyway, we asked the two what their best ever idea had been. Albie went dead quiet for about half an hour with his eyes closed. Suddenly he awoke and started speaking in a really sinister creepy way. He explained his favourite idea is when he drove… his own car… at midnight… to a forest! And chopped down a tree (he was 5 at the time). Thus the idea started.
What is your favourite part of the process when illustrating a book?
I have to admit that my favourite bit is the bit before the computer comes in. Using my hands and building things and luxuriating in different materials. Even if they are very resourcefully found materials. Saying that I am part geek, and really get into the control and finesse of using digital to work in illustration. I love the challenge of trying to create a certain tone or atmosphere using digital that you normally find on the inside of your head.
How is it different illustrating your own words and someone else words- and do you have a preference?
I really love words, and I am always in so much awe when people use them to transport or teach or time travel. If I get to use my own words it is like a rare treat, and it is much more terrifying. But still wonderful. Working with a writer offers a chance to have a rare conversation without speaking. Developing a silent relationship, that you then get to share with readers. That aspect on its own can be amazing to look at in picture books, before even thinking about the content of the book. A little peak into the writer and illustrators brains.
Desert Island Discs…What are your 8? And you can choose one luxury to take with you – what would that be?
Orzark Mountain Dare Devils- It’ll Shine When It Shines
Cat Stevens-Teaser and the Fire Cat
Heart- Dreamboat Annie
Drexciya- Neptune’s Liar
Linda Perhacs- Parallelograms
Cockteau Twins – Treasure
Aphex Twin- Selected Ambient Works Volume 2
The Mamas and the Papas- Best of!
And my luxury item would be my grandads lovely electro acoustic guitar he left me. Oh wow I am a hippy.
What was the last book you read?
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran and The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
What was your favourite book as a little girl?
I had two firm favourites throughout although I had so many inbetweeners. Those were The Enchanted Horse by Magdalen Nabb and Sunset Cottage-Ursula by Horely-Smith. (Minpins was up there too).