Chris Rivers Nuttall – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Chris Rivers Nuttall to the blog. Chris is the illustrator of the Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventure books, written by Natalie Page, the latest being Tinsel Town which was published on 7 November 2016.

Chris kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us about Zak and Jen’s Astronomical Adventures: Tinsel Town

Tinsel Town is second story from Zak and Jen’s astronomical adventures. Natalie came to me with the idea of doing a christmas special back in June / July, the title and outline of the story was there so it seemed like a great idea to do. It’s the perfect link between ‘The Petal Planet’ (which is the 1st book) and what will end up becoming the 3rd book which me and Natalie are already talking about.

2. What is the process you take to produce illustrations? How long does it take from idea to final picture?

For these illustrations it usually starts with a very basic pencil sketch to get a rough idea of each image and where the charactors will fit within that image. I don’t like to do to much on the sketches as I perfect to go with the flow once I’m doing the actual paintings. The paintings are all then done using oils, its the only paints I work with, the drying time is really slow which isn’t good when working on a deadline but the paints allow a lot of flexibility.

I added some touches digitally on Tinsel Town, for sparkle effects etc, this was all done in the final stages.

3. How important do you think illustrations are to a children’s book? What do they add to the story?

Very important as I think it really sparks their imaginations, it shows things they might not have ever seen before, especially with anything that’s fantasy, but the images need a strong story and the story needs strong images, without either then the whole thing would suffer. If both the set of images and the words alone can stand up on their own as something interesting then I think it’s a winner, put them both together and it’s game on..
4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career as an illustrator? 

My advice would be draw / paint whatever you want and whatever feels natural,  you have to enjoy what your doing as well, otherwise the images would suffer. Also, try to be as original as possible and don’t be afraid to take a risk if you have an idea, it’s good to take yourself out of a comfort zone. Anything to do with arts is very competitive so you’ve got to stand out from the crowd and find you’re vibe.. as far as it being a career, very few people get to the point where they can call it their full time career but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it alongside whatever else in your life you have going on! That’s what I do. Also, try and find a good writer to partner up with! Again, that’s what I did!

5. What do you do when you aren’t illustrating? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I’m a father of twin girls who recently turned 1 and I also play drums in a rock band called Heaven’s Basement which I’ve done full time for the whole of my adult life, so relax time doesn’t happen much, but I love being busy with my art, music and of course my family.

6. Is there a book you wish you had illustrated? 

Roald Dahl is king in my eyes, his stuff is so crazy, I love it, I’d be all over that !!
About the book:
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Best friends Zak and Jen love exploring space using their magic umbrellas. This time, they find a Christmas themed planet, but there is one thing missing, the inhabitants! Join the characters as they make some festive friends, and realise how important it is to appreciate every day. Tinsel Town is written for children over five years old, however younger children will also enjoy the rhythm of the story and its festive theme.
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