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Interview of Jemima Catlin
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auteur Jemima Catlin
Pour les11 ans et +

Interview en anglais avec l’illustratrice du Hobbit chez Harper Collins.

Well let’s have a chat with Jemima Catlin who kindly answered some questions.


Hello Jemima, could you introduce yourself in a few words to the readers of Mes Premières Lectures ?

Hi, I am an illustrator and recently illustrated The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien which is being published 12th September of this year. 


What is your background ?


I live in Dorset in the UK and work full-time as a freelance illustrator. I come form a creative background - my Mother is an Artist, my Father is a Photographer and I have one brother - who is a Graphic Designer, and two sisters - both of which are Artists and Photographers ! I am the youngest in my family. I studied at the Arts University at Bournemouth where I obtained an FdA in Visual Communication and a BA Honours Degree in illustration, graduating in 2010. 

Could you walk us through one of your typical days ? What tools or technics do you use ? 


A typical day would be to start drawing late morning, about 11.30am. I have a studio to work in, but find it much nicer to draw in a sketchbook on my lap while sitting on the sofa in the lounge - I find it easier to be creative in a relaxing environment. I have recently starting using dip-pen and ink as a drawing tool - I tend to go through phases, and like to experiment with different methods. Eventually I will probably move onto something new again ! I never stick to one method for very long as I find changing methods keeps the creative process exciting. Previous techniques include : watercolour, monoprinting, pencil, silk-painting, collage, ink, and acrylic paints. 


How did you start working with Harper Collins ? Was it as part of a personal project ?


Towards the end of my 2 year FdA degree in Visual Communication, we needed to choose a final project to do, and had free reign to do anything we wanted. I chose to illustrate Roverandom by J R R Tolkien, as I found the book fascinating and inspiring. I illustrated it using monoprint techniques, which was a whole new method to me - I found it gave my drawings more movement and life. After creating several illustrations, I decided to bind a book of Roverandom with my drawings in and use this as my ‘final piece‘ to go with my project. I contacted Harpercollins, asking if I could use the text for my project, and attached a few of my illustrations. David Brawn, Publishing Director of Estates, kindly replied to me and invited me to Harpercollins offices to show my finished project to him. David Brawn sent examples of my work for Roverandom to Christopher Tolkien, who spoke warmly of my illustrations but didn’t feel that they accurately represented his fathers vision of the story. A year later, Christopher Tolkien asked if I would be interested in submitting some illustrations for a children’s edition of The Hobbit - I was very excited !


Do you like Tolkien’s work, is he one of your favourite authors (I know he is mine !) ? When did you first discover Tolkien ?

I adore Tolkien’s work, and I always have since I read The Hobbit at the age of 12. He is certainly my favourite author, and I also love his illustrations. J R R Tolkien is one of the most talented people in our history. 


Is it difficult to be working on a book that has already known many different illustrators ?

I deliberately didn’t look too much at other peoples interpretations of The Hobbit while I was illustrating it, I didn’t want anything to influence me. The only illustrators work I really focused on during the project was Tolkien’s own illustrations. It was important to me that I kept true to how Tolkien intended the characters and landscape to look. 


Are you inspired, in your everyday work, by any illustrator ?

I find lots of things inspiring - artwork, music, animation, nature. I really like Tove Jansson’s illustrations - I find her style unique and interesting. E H Shepherds illustrations are charming and honest - I love them. I find Arthur Rackham’s illustrations fascinating, they have a dark edge that I find really appealing. Also Studio Ghibli animations really inspire me, they are magical and the music by Joe Hisaishi is beautiful. 



Who are the most important children’s books authors according to you ? 


J R R Tolkien is definitely one of the greatest. C S Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is another brilliant classic. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is another wonderful story. I really enjoyed The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame as a child. When I was much younger Roald Dahl was one of my favourite authors. Another author I enjoyed is Dick-King-Smith. I also loved the Winnie the Pooh stories by A A Milne. As a young girl I often read the Asterix Books by Goscinny and Uderzo - I probably own every one !

Ivy Wallace’s Pookie series were also a treasured favourite when I was a very young girl. 

What are your future projects ? Do you have any connected to Tolkien ?

I am currently drawing trees around Dorchester in Dorset, using dip-pen and ink. I am printing a limited edition book of my tree drawings, each individually numbered 1 - 100 and signed. These will be available to purchase on my website from September/October. I find the history and folklore around Dorset fascinating, and hope to create a series of illustrations based on that next. I haven’t got another Tolkien project yet, but plan to create some illustrations inspired by The Lord of the Rings for my own enjoyment - I’d really like to draw an Ent.


Thank you so much for your time Jemima ! We will keep a close eye on your upcoming works !

If you want to know and see more about Jemima’s works follow the link :

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Interview of Jemima Catlin : Mes Premières Lectures