Sunday, 3 November 2013

Inspiring Illustrators - Part One

I often get asked about my favourite illustrators. So I've put together a list, starting with two illustrators I have loved from the very beginning, Lisbeth Zwerger and Armin Greder.

Exploring other picture book illustrator's work was an important part of starting out for me, as I'd had no training in illustration or picture books and therefore had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing.

I discovered the work of Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger early on and collected many of her books, mesmerised by so many elements within her illustrations. I've really enjoyed the evolution of her work; for although the work becomes brighter and sharper, it is never tight and contrived.

I've taken a photo or two of her work and hope she doesn't mind me posting them here.

I love the way she interprets a story, her subtle, yet quirky characters, the intricate patterns in her work, the inspired composition of each painting and use of negative space. I have always been intrigued by the way she puts colour on, especially in the earlier illustrations (see above) where the colour seems to have a mind of its own; it bleeds and crosses the drawing lines but makes the illustration all the more exciting and free. But most importantly for me, it is the way she draws people that is so enormously inspiring, full of movement and so much life they nearly make me cry.

I have many of her books but that which I held very close to me for some time is The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger. It is an absolute visual feast. You can get it on Fishpond. Click here.

Armin Greder is another illustrator whose work I have watched closely, particularly his books with Libby Gleeson. His illustrations work so perfectly with her words and this relationship was something I definitely aspired to. Uncle David is one of my favourites, combining Armin's iconic flowing charcoal line work, areas of bright colour and these brilliant page designs! I love the way he frames and crops images.

His drawings of people are wonderfully fluid and expressive. I'm particularly fond of this one here (below) as it is none other than Libby Gleeson and her husband, Euan, standing amongst the parents.

I love the way his illustrations sometimes just engulf the written story, especially in An Ordinary Day and The Great Bear, where the pictures take over and the words never return. What perfect picture books! The Great Bear has recently been republished by Walker Books in Australia.

Thank you to Armin Greder for allowing me to post photos of your work.

Part Two of Inspiring Illustrators coming some time soon, but possibly not that soon...


  1. I love The Great Bear, but it's so sad.

  2. Freya, I just love your drawings - as does my 8yo daughter (who is also a Freya!). There is so much movement in them. I just have to buy every book you illustrate. :) Rachel

  3. I am not familiar with Armin Greder, nuut i will surely check it out now.
    Uncle David is great i know! So clever in the design.

  4. Wow Freya. Thank you for introducing me to these illustrators.
    I can certainly see how they have inspired you.

  5. love your work Freya, I can see Armin Greder's influence. He was my sister's illustration lecturer in the early 1980's in Brisbane. A lovely bear of a man. It is lovely to see illustrations which show the thought of the drawing helps children to make sense of the process.

  6. Thanks for sharing! You are one of my inspirational illustrators, and it is so encouraging to know that it is possible to start with no formal illustration training but succeed at it because it is what you love!

    1. Lovely to hear from you Katie. Sometimes I wish I'd had some more training in this area, but I actually think you can come up with unique stuff when you've got to work it all out for yourself. I'm still working things out. Getting ready to post something about a recent book which was such a long drawn out process. Good luck with your own unique work!

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