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Katie Cottle (photo credit: Will Austin)

Artist Spotlight: Katie Cottle

Katie Cottle is so much more than an award-winning illustrator and printmaker living in Bristol, UK. She also happens to be a uniquely talented artist whose electric style elevates and invigorates children's book manuscripts on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to You're Out of This World, her cosmically adorable board book with Hazy Dell Press, Katie's books for children include Omar and the Bees for Owlet Press, and Home Grown, for which she received a Batsford Prize for children’s book illustration. Please enjoy our recent chat with Katie, in which we discuss a variety of pressing topics, including UFOs, deadlines, and the color orange.

What is your favorite part of the illustration process?

There are so many fun bitssketching, messing around with paints, experimenting with colour! What I enjoy most is towards the end, when it all starts to come together. I love looking back and seeing the progression from rough sketch, to colour, to final. At that end-stage, I’ll keep tweaking the colours and adding in textures or extra little things, and I find it super exciting when I can look at it and think, “yeah, this is it!”

What appealed to you the most about illustrating a book about Grey aliens and UFO folklore?
I’ve watched a few documentaries and films about American UFO folklore (my favourite being one of Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends—it’s so good) and I love a good sci-fi story! This was a different kind of brief for me, and I was really excited to draw some characters that are maybe traditionally a little spooky. It was great fun illustrating all of the space scenes tooall the swirls and stars and planets. I think the alternative characters and settings featured across all of the books in the Hazy Dell Love & Nurture series are such a great way to inspire imagination. 

How does your sense of empathy inform your approach to illustration? 
I think empathy plays a really big part in illustrating, as it’s all just communication. Being able to understand what you want the piece to say, or what the characters are feeling, or what’s happening in the storybeing able to know and understand that will definitely help you translate it to paper. 

Also (this is maybe a bit weird but I’m sure other illustrators do this too), I find myself pulling the face of whatever expression I’m trying to draw, haha!

You have an apparent and self-proclaimed affinity for the color orange. Can you explain what it is about this particular color that you find so inspiring?
Orange, for me, radiates a warm and friendly energy. It’s the colour of my favourite time of year (autumn/fall), so I think it carries across that coziness. I’ve always been drawn to things that are slightly retro too, and orange is often found in those 1970s/1960s colour palettes. It’s a colour that Miffy (the character by Dick Bruna) wears (and I LOVE Miffy!). It can be found in nature, but it can also look super unnatural. It’s just the best! Except for the fruit. I much prefer apples. 

If you could give one piece of advice to a young, aspiring illustrator, what would it be?
Illustration is so broad and varied, there are so many different pathways and things to explore. Don’t pressure yourself, don’t force it, and don’t let other people tell you what your goals should be! But *do* meet your deadlines! That’s four things (sorry!)

Photo credit: Will Austin.