The 26th guest—yes, this series has been going for half a year now—on Meet An Illustrator is Steve Small, whose debut children’s picture book I’m Sticking With You, written by Smriti Halls and an ACHUKA Book of the Day in May last year, was shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar’s Book Prize (for best under-fives book of the year) and is currently one of the five titles shortlisted for 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize.
Steve is an established and award-winning animator and director of the Studio AKA partnership. His animation sequences for Black Earth rising were Bafta-nominated.
Here is a recent example of Steve’s work as an animation director—the title sequence for Ridley Scott’s Raised By Wolves:
In contrast to animation, Steve says of books: “They don’t move and they don’t make a sound, yet they remain one of the finest ways to smuggle a story into our imagination. I’ve always been hooked on books and love the simple storytelling chemistry at work in picture books.”
Steve’s first solo picture book, The Duck Wo Didn’t Like Water, was published earlier this year.
As a child, what were the first illustrations you remember admiring?
I remember doing a pencil drawing of a leopard stretching on a rock. I had copied it from a photograph and it took me ages to draw all the markings across its body. I remember thinking that I wanted to study animals, but drawing them was too hard.
Who/what inspired you when you were young?
I was obsessed with nature and was always roaming about the woods looking under rocks and bushes. Also music. The perfect escapism. I listened to all of my parents’ albums on their record player and was amazed when I found a stereoscopic LP that announced it was an experiment in 3d sound.
Who inspires you today?
Did you study art/illustration?
I studied graphic design at Southampton College. But I learnt animation and illustration as I went along.
What is your favourite artist tool/product?
The A6 Moleskine plain paper sketchbook.
Where do you buy your art supplies?
What software/apps do you use?
What was your first commission?
A painting of a blue woman with blue fiery hair on a motorbike helmet for my neighbour’s biker lodger when I was 13.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m doing some animation for a documentary in America and illustrating my second solo book about a small Elephant.
Twitter or Instagram? Instagram
Coffee or tea? Tea
Dog or cat? Fox
Grape or grain? Grain
Sunrise or sunset? I’ve heard of a sunrise. I can’t say I’ve seen many.
What do you listen to when you are working? Audio books, Podcasts and Music.
Where can we follow you on social media?
I only really do Instagram at the moment and not as often as I should. I’m very impressed by people who find the time to attend to social media and still get work done.
This is a regular weekend feature, publishing every Saturday.