Illustrator Insight: Lucy Rose

One of the things that is soooo exciting (among many!) about having your book published, is having a wonderful illustrator use their incredible skills for the front cover of your book. Although I had seen the final version of the cover of The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair on the proof copies, the Zephyr design team had a fabulous surprise for me… a turquoise foil picking out leaves and other elements on the cover! It was the best surprise ever and I love the cover even more! It twinkles on bookshop shelves.

I got the chance to meet up with Lucy Rose, the cover illustrator of The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair, before Christmas. She kindly agreed to answer some questions about her work and her process…

I’ve had so many people comment to me about how special the cover is for The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair. I think it must have been quite a hard book to design a cover for because of the dual time line and the sensitive themes but you’ve done an incredible job. Could you tell us about your process for illustrating a book cover? When I received the brief and manuscript I start my process by brainstorming ideas and making very quick, rough sketches. This allows me to experiment with composition and elements to include in the illustration. I also research particular elements, for example for this cover I did do lots of research on Tigers and flora/ fauna found on the Jurassic Coastline. I then create a couple of detailed sketches which I will send to the designer and then there’s discussion and adjustments made until everyone is happy with the sketch. I sometimes receive the type for the cover at this point so I can work my sketches around the text- making sure there is space and if the illustration can interact with the type in any way. After this, I can start on the detailed colour illustration; mainly by drawing on my iPad, making sure I create lots of texture and detail. This is also the stage where I can experiment with colour palettes. When I am happy with the illustration I try and send a couple of colour options back to the designer so they have a few options to choose from. The final stage would be fine-tuning small details and colour so everyone is happy and that the final type fits well with the illustration.  

One of the things which I think is particularly special about the cover is the way you’ve managed to convey both power and peacefulness in the tiger. He has a real weight to him. You illustrate lots of animals. What is your favourite animal to draw and why? I love to illustrate animals and capturing their particular characteristics, whether it be their power, beauty or elegance. Animals are absolutely my favourite subjects to draw. I’m not sure if I have one favourite that I prefer but I do especially love exotic animals with striking and colourful markings. I also am pretty obsessed with dogs so drawing any breed of dog makes me particularly happy. 

Another thing I love about the cover is the intricate design of the plants. Your illustrations often incorporate detailed patterns. I can’t imagine where you begin! What is the process for designing a pattern? When I design a repeat pattern, I spend a most of the time experimenting and playing around with composition and lots of colour options rather than creating sketches first. I like this process as it is very experimental and I never really know what it is going to turn out like – this process is fun and brings out my spontaneous side. 

Could you tell us about your working day? When and where do you work? For the last 5 years I have been a full time illustrator so I work Monday to Friday – recently trying hard to give myself weekends off (something I have struggled to do for years being self employed)I work from my studio at home most of the time with the company of my wonderful dog Tyson but I also take my work into a local gallery where I work once a week to keep sociable and sane. If I have a big deadline coming up I do tend to work into the evenings too, especially if I am working with clients in the U.S as there’s a big time difference. 

Could you tell us how you came to be an illustrator? I knew I wanted to go into an art profession quite early as both my parents are practising artists. This definitely heavily influenced me and drawing was something I knew I was quite good at. But I think it was only when I studied for my Art Foundation that I really took an interest in illustration, maybe because I learnt what types of jobs I could go into. I consequently ended up at Falmouth University completing a BA in illustration. At our final degree show The Artworks agency in London reached out inviting me to join their ‘Startworks’ programme (their very own programme to help guide new illustrators into the industry) and I absolutely loved it. I managed to get a few big jobs quite quickly from this and once a year had passed I was officially represented by them and have been getting exciting, varied jobs ever since! 

What are you working on at the moment? And what should we be watching for which will be coming out soon? At the moment I have some exciting and quite diverse projects in my schedule with a few adult book cover projects, a coffee packaging brief and a couple of children’s books – one that I have just finished about my favourite animals… dogs! The really great thing about my job is that I am never quite sure what kind of brief may pop up next. 

If you would like to find out more about Lucy, you can visit her website here:

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