Sarah Massini, illustrator for Books Always Everywhere (published this week) has kindly submitted herself to our 5-minute Q&A in this month’s edition of our Books Newsletter, and her answers give such a good insight into the illustration process that we wanted to re-print them here. You can enlarge each image by clicking it.
Where do you work?
From home. We live on the edge of a village and my workroom window looks out over a lovely view along the valley.
The photo at the top of this post is my workroom whilst taking photos for this book. This was the point at which I stopped and was both alarmed and amused at the chaos around me. The set-up on the table is for the “Book Build, Book Mat” spread. Note the ink bottle propping up the cloth book, the light box and angle poise pretending to be studio lights, and books everywhere!
What was the hardest thing about this book?
The many, many little books in the book. I’m not a good photographer and so I took several photos of each book with different exposure and aperture settings, trying to ensure that at least one of them would be good enough to use.
Then, in Photoshop, I deleted the backgrounds and any text and pictures on the books.
I then softened the photos by creating rough lines and shadows in pencil; these were scanned and stripped into place.
I’ve never counted all the books in Books Always Everywhere but there are a lot and they were the most time-consuming aspect of the art. Most people don’t realise that the books are photographic, but I think they still hint at realism, and that’s important. Their hard structure counter-balances the soft line of the rest of the art and helps makes each book very much a focal point.
Here’s the finished spread:
What distracts you from work?
Everything. Working from home isn’t always a good thing. Music and especially radio dramas on iPlayer help keep me in my chair.
Can you think of something that has inspired you recently?
Not directly but I was in The Dover Bookshop on Monday which is a fabulous resource for copyright free images, textures and patterns. The shop is closing down next month and I spent about two hours there trying to decide what books I really couldn’t do without. I’m going to miss that shop!
Is there a children’s book you could never got bored of re-reading?
As a very visual person I love any book that is beautifully illustrated or designed. Library Mice asked me to select my Favourite Five books recently and I have certainly never been bored by any of my selections, and I’ve read them all countless times.
Thank you, Sarah! Books Always Everywhere is available in shops from Thursday. You can pre-order it online here, or take a look inside below: