Artist Spotlight: Heather Dryden

This week we had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Heather Dryden aka @hdottyd as our Artist spotlight of the week.

Hello! Please can you give us a brief little introduction about yourself?

Hi there, I live in the leafy London suburbs in a Victorian cottage with my husband, two kids, two bunnies and an old bagpuss. My background is in video editing and motion design and I’ve been freelancing in this for the last 13 or so years. I’ve always drawn since I was young and it’s always been a hobby of mine. The real focus on my art and drawing for kids came about when I had kids myself! For the past 5 years or so I’ve been taking A LOT of courses in children’s illustration and investing a lot of time in my sketchbook, finding my style and learning more about the industry. I also write, so have plenty of kids' book ideas going on in the background, this gives me a lot of focus for my art too.

What inspires you?

My children inspire me every day, the things they say, the things they do, as well as seeing them interact with their friends. Coincidentally my friends and their kids also inspire me, hearing stories about what they’ve been doing and the many personalities of children make for great ideas for children’s illustration. Also going for walks, sitting in coffee shops and people watching, you see snippets into other people’s lives. For example, I see a little toddler on the school run every morning wearing green wellies, a white jacket, a bright green hat, holding a yellow cuddly duck - I mean, I need to draw her! Also, I find stories and conversations with people can inspire me - it’s surprising what inspiration you can get from a chat with a neighbour or a friend.

What is your favourite thing to draw?

You’ve guessed it, it’s kids. I find them so much easier to draw than adults or animals. My sketchbook is full of my kids, they are always on the move, always doing something, and everything is interesting to them. I’m really glad you didn’t ask me what I don’t like to draw, as there’s plenty!

What art goals do you have for this year?

My dream is to work in picture books so I’m going to keep plugging away this year with making more art that focuses on that. I already have some important dates marked in the calendar, the SCBWI Conference in February being one and I’m also taking MATS ‘Illustrating Children’s Books’ in April for the millionth time. I find I progress so much each time I take it and learn something new, plus I love a deadline to keep me motivated. I’m also hoping to send my portfolio out this year to agents or publishers, just for the feedback alone, I think it will be worth taking the leap and sending my work out.

What techniques/supplies do you use?

I’ve bought almost every material under the sun but I prefer to do my final illustrations in Procreate and Photoshop, I love having control over the colours I use when I work digitally, also a lot of my work is done in the evening so I don’t have to worry about daylight to mix colours. Having said that, I do a lot of sketchbooking and try to keep that up as a visual diary. I mainly use Tombow markers, colour pencils and fine liners for my sketchbook work. It’s great to have references to go back to as well.

What advice would you give to another doodler/artist?

I would say to try weekly or daily sketch prompts to start an art habit and also to draw from life as much as possible. I’d also set out to draw for yourself, and no one else. I’ve found it’s important to draw for enjoyment instead of focusing on what you might get from it. It’s nice to have the end goal in mind (such as making an income, signing with an agent or getting published!) but I think I create my best work when I’m enjoying what I’m doing -  as soon as it feels forced I skip that piece or have a day or two away from drawing. Also join in with the wonderful art prompts out there on Instagram, it’s so nice to have feedback and support from the lovely Instagram community – it’s helped me feel like my work is better than just ok! An interview with the lovely Friday Doodle Club has proved that 😉

Learn more about Heather Dryden by visiting:

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