Collaborating with illustrator Elizabeth Winter on Monstrous Me has been a dream. She brings to each illustration so much more than an accomplished artistic skillset. She brings her curiosity, her experience as a reader, what she’s loved from other fairy tales and folktales, and injects all of that into each piece.
When I started writing this collection at the beginning of this year, I could not have imagined finding an artist who was so capable of taking those initial ideas and expanding them into such realized, living creations.
One of the biggest joys of launching the campaign for Monstrous Me has been hearing the feedback on all of her illustrations as people see them in one place for the first time. It’s been like letting them in on a secret I’ve known for months. Now imagine a whole book full of this art!
I asked if she would answer a few questions about how she got into illustration and her inspirations, and she graciously agreed. Below is our Q&A, along with some gorgeous non-Monstrous Me art.
Interview with Elizabeth Winter
1. How did you first get into art and illustration?
As most kids growing up, I had knack for drawing and colouring outside of the lines. That accompanied by the fact that my mother is an illustrator and growing up in my family, who are all quite artistically inclined. I was drawn to it naturally.
2. Which artists inspired you early on?
Geez, that’s a tough one. Since I can remember I loved fantasy art as a subject since its so wide and varying and stretches beyond the borders of the imagination. I can say some of my favourites are Frank Frazetta, Larry Elmore, Beatrix Potter, Carlos Huante, Brian Froud, Alan Lee,… but there are just so many who I admire. Every week or so I find new people and their work and they are all so inspiring! All in all, it’s more the techniques they use and the work themselves that I fall in love with.
3. What are the folk tales, fairy tales, or children’s stories you remember most from your childhood?
A lot of stories were heartbreaking tales of heroism that ended somewhat bittersweet rather than happy endings. Many themes are there to teach children lessons of either survival and respect for wild nature combined with empathy and love. I remember one of the stories that stuck out the most was the story of Racheltjie De Beer, who sacrificed herself to save her little brother from the freezing cold. Which is very similar to the real life story of the American, Hazel Miner.
4. What are you reading or watching or listening to now that you love?
Admittedly I have been rereading some children’s novels in the Redwall series, they are very nostalgic.
5. When did you first realize you could make a career out of illustration and art?
Well, when you have a passion for something and you’re really happy doing it, its not always feasible to make a career out of it but slowly it unfolds as you go along. So before you know it, and if you work for it and market yourself that way, you can stand on your own two feet doing what you love.
6. Do you have any tips or advice for anyone looking to make that leap for themselves?
Don’t listen to people telling you to conform to a certain style or fad. Find your own style and practice it. Trends come and go, but focus on your own signature and it’ll shine beyond that. There is nothing wrong with experimenting to find out who you are and what your style is. The great part about experimenting with different mediums and techniques is that you will always learn from it which will help you grow in the right direction. The usual hard work and patience is of course very important.
7. Speaking technically, what’s your setup? Do you work with pens, paints, tablets, Photoshop, Illustrator?
It really depends on what is required of me when it comes to what has been commissioned for. I have a specific space or study where I do all my traditional style work, oils, watercolour, pencil, ink, etc. It has a little library of books for references, a desk with great lighting, and my easel setup. However I really love working in digital, since I can take my work with me wherever I go. All I need is my Wacom tablet and laptop.Digital does have its own pros and cons versus the traditional methods. Of course there’s nothing stopping you from combining the two!
8. Is there a dream project you’ve always wanted to do?
I’ve always wanted to make character art for games/media. Board games, video games.
The Monstrous Me Kickstarter campaign runs until September 9th. Pledge to be one of the first people to receive the hardbound book!
Also published on Medium.