How did you get your first book published?
It was very good Luck! I had a weird collection of surrealistic black and white drawings and applied for an illustrator’s job on Pursuit Magazine in Melbourne. Walla! I got it (my first illustrations were pretty strange too!) Ann James worked there too, and asked me to illustrate a book for a Greek language project. Too easy. Probably not the best advice! It was called Drenched.
Did you have a mentor?
I am and was a fan of Ann James, who helped me get started, and the author Gary Crew asked me to illustrate a pic. book for him because I used to be a map maker in the army. He needed an illustrator who could draw authentic maps for a picturebook called The Valley of Bones. It led to seven picture books for Lothian Publishers. On a whim, I sent them the manuscript for Prayer For the Animals, and I had my first story published.
What is your daily writing/illustrating routine? And do you have a ritual to get into the writing/illustrating zone?
No ritual. I walk the dog, do the dishes, feed the dog, answer the emails, go out for a coffee, come back, look for some other distraction until I feel guilty, then go out to the studio. Then I stall some more and then start work. By then it’s usually time to pick my granddaughter up from school!
Describe your illustrating space ? Do you have anything around you that inspires you?
An old garage. Music inspires me. I don’t look at a painting or illustration after I finish it. I put them away. I play music before I start work, which gets me started, then I switch it off so I can concentrate. I work with my drum kit set up behind me, and have a drum every now and then. I have children’s art up all around me in the studio. My sons, daughters and students work.
What medium do you like to work in?
Acrylics on canvas, inks, crayons, charcoal, col. pencil. Oils, whatever is lying around. Greylead Pencil is my favourite, but I like working in acrylics on canvas as well.
What is your latest publication and what are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished a book about the Vietnam War called Vietnam Diary, which will be out early next year. It is the 3rd book in the Children in War Trilogy (with My Mother’s Eyes, the Story of a Boy Soldier and Angel of Kokoda). There is also a new Ben and Gracie’s Art Adventure book just out. A story about the migration of Whales is on the drawing board at the moment. I’m just starting the sketches.
You can visit Mark’s website HERE