Enquiry to End Sample - There's a Spider in this Book! Mike Byrne Oct 17 2018

Samples and spotted

This week at Advocate, we're celebrating the completion of another fantastic children's publishing project! Our super talented illustrator Mike Byrne has just finished illustrating a There's a Spider in this Book! for Macmillan Publishers. This fun engaging book is about a little spider named Eric in search of a friend, but Fluffy the furry feline has other ideas! Can you find Eric before Fluffy does? 

Mike's bright colour palette, fun characters filled with emotions and expressive style makes him a great illustrator for Children's Publishing, especially for ages 0-5. We did a short Q&A with Mike to find out what it was like working on this project, and what it's like to be an illustrator. Have a read below and scroll through the images! If you'd like to see more of Mike's work, check out his online Advocate portfolio. If you think Mike would be perfect for an upcoming project you have, get in touch with one of our agents

1). What are your qualifications when deciding to take on a new project?
First of all, I try to get as much info as possible about the potential project. To find out a general synopsis and of course the deadline. From there, I can check my schedule and make a decision as to whether I can fit the project in or not. Being self-employed, you are always trying to avoid turning a down a client.

2). When accepting a project, is the subject of the book important to you?
Of course. At the end of the day, when a book is published it not only has the authors name on, but it has your name on it too. You have to be proud of your work. 

3). Once you sign off on a project, and receive the brief, what are your first steps in getting started?
First thing I do is print out the text, read it through and make notes / scribble down ideas on the pages. It’s a bit like brainstorming. I try to put down anything that pops into my head. It’s a great way to work through the ideas (even if most of them never come to anything) It’s good to just get them down onto paper.

4). Do you have a certain method or ritual to the artistic process?
Coffee, coffee and more coffee!

...then afterwards it's just a case of sitting down and drawing. The first step is just to try and overcome the terror that is the blank page. I doodle, not really drawing anything in particular, but just to get scribbling. Once I’m sufficiently ‘warmed up’ I get cracking with the job at hand.

5). What is your studio space like? Are you more of a morning worker or a night owl?
I like to surround myself with things that inspire and interest me. LOTS of Books, A signed Quentin Blake print, Batman Figures, A Plush Boo from Mario World, a Lifesize Darth Vader mask, My late Dad’s Liverpool scarf and Season ticket from the year I was born, sketchbooks, pens, some of my previously published books, paintings and drawings from my sons, post-its full of to-do items and much more! 

6). What happens when your sketches are approved? How do you go about choosing your colour palette?
I do lots of research to gather as much reference as possible. I try to keep on top of the latest trends: For example, children's clothing & fashions. Then I create little mood boards for each spread. I use Adobe’s fantastic Colour (https://color.adobe.com/) tool to import images and create a unique palette that I can then import directly into Photoshop.

7). What is your inspiration?
My two little boys inspire me every day. To see their happiness when they get lost in a picture book inspires me to try to create beautiful illustrations that might bring that happiness to others.

8). How do you know when your pieces are "done"?
As any artist will tell you, knowing when a piece is ‘done’ is one of the toughest calls you have to make. Thankfully, as an illustrator, part of the process means you are working towards a publishing deadline. I could tweak and tweak a piece forever, but ultimately the deadline, the deadline and I have to deliver the artwork.

9). What does it feel like to complete a book?
A sense of accomplishment at finishing a project and a sense of excitement about starting something new, with new characters and a story to tell.

10) How do you celebrate the completion of a new project!
I get great satisfaction in crossing off a project on my to-do list. I usually celebrate with a cup of tea and a biscuit then treat myself by taking an afternoon off to spend time with my boys building lego or hunting for the Gruffalo in the nearby woods.

Mike Byrne was founded by our team of illustration agents, based at our UK and USA agencies. If you think any of our illustrators would be perfect for an upcoming project you have, be sure to reach out to an agent