Today we're excited to welcome a wonderful artist to our blog to talk about her work. We first came into contact with Moon Kestrel as a subscriber to our box and her blog is a brilliant resource if you're interested in bookish subscription box as she subscribes to and reviews tons of them!
Your artwork is inspired by books. How do you decide which books to make art about?
Not only by books, I also have my own characters that pop up in sketches (mostly on Instagram). As for how I decide which books, it depends. Sometimes when I am reading something, the idea to draw it comes to life inside my head and nags me, so I may make a thumbnail somewhere like I have done for my Ace of Diamonds. Other times someone suggests I draw something inspired by it so I try to find key items I would include (like I have done for the bookmark set for Book Box Club which has a lot of Easter Eggs about the books). Sometimes I have read the book and nothing came while reading it but once I chat about it with friends or read a quote somewhere, it sparks an idea.
You're also a book blogger. Which did you love first -art or books?
Both. My dad taught me how to draw flowers with colourful pens as soon as I could manage to hold a pen and draw circles, and my mother inspired my love for books. I started kindergarten/preschool already knowing how to read because of her. So both interests have always been hand in hand and at the same level (even when I considered what career to choose, I was torn between fashion designer, engineer and librarian/archivist). When I was 10-11 years old, I started writing more seriously and I would illustrate my stories (for me, to display how I saw characters or locations). I still have some of those original drawings in an envelope to keep as reference and revisit.
Like lots of us small business types you have a day job. How do you fit your art in around that?
Juggling. My job is a 9-5 job, but it also implies being on call on a rota so there have been sleepless nights where I have to go to work next morning as if it was all normal. I squeeze drawing on weekend mornings if it is digital work, probably one of the few perks of rising with the sun, the rest of the world is quiet and sleeping. Otherwise I usually carry my sketchbook with me. For one commission, I had finished it in black and white and then offered to add colour but it needed to be with the printers the next day so I stayed up until 2 am to finish it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic process?
Of course. For my usual pieces I have an idea of what feelings I want to convey through it and what actions, so I then decide which characters will be part of it. If I need reference material, I will look through my books (I bought a full botanical encyclopaedia just to draw flowers on the hair of one drawing) and sometimes the internet. A lot of times I pose myself and take "selfies". My boyfriend finds this hilarious since I may be doing some weird stunts in the middle of the living room, he is used to me saying "it's for a drawing". If I can't decide on certain poses or something I will thumbnail the different ideas (this means tiny sketches, the size of a finger nail). Once I have settled on it, then I will make a dirty sketch that can be the only sketch. Sometimes if changes are needed, I will re-sketch it. On a note, I rarely do any sketching digitally, I prefer paper and mechanical pencil. Once the sketch is as it should be, I'll scan, ink digitally (and fix any issues), and if it is a coloured one, proceed to colour. I have posted a blog detailing the process for the design I made for Book Box Club's July box if you'd like to see the steps illustrated.
What are some of your favourite books and authors?
My favourite authors are Anne McCaffrey (she writes about dragons and most of her stories are set in other planets, so it asks tough questions on humanity and what it means to be human or not), Madeleine L'Engle (most of her writing is exploring humanity and relationships but it is also what sparked my interest in higher maths and other bits of science like mitochondria) and Robin McKinley (amazing at retellings but also good at world building, Damar is a jewel). After that there is a long list that would be unending. As for favourite books, most of my favourites are books by one of them so I will skip those and suggest a few favourites not written by any of these ladies. My current favourite book for this year is After the Fire by Will Hill. I also enjoyed Franklyn's Flying Bookshop by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett. And I'd recommend Spellslinger, it is a mix between magic and heroes and a western plus one of the main characters is not a young adult but rather an adult and that makes even more interesting. I'd also say Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer, it is about grief and it took me by surprise in a good way. If you prefer something more scary, you should read The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín. I should stop, it is so hard to choose favourites.
You can contact Moon Kestrel via her blog to request artwork commissions or you can buy raffle tickets as she's very kindly donated an artwork commission to our raffle!