When Art teacher Tim Budgen isn’t teaching, he’s busy working his artistic freelance fingers to the bone, as a Children’s Illustrator. I caught up with Tim to ask a few questions and find out what keeps his mind happy.
What’s your first memory of drawing ?
My great Grandfather was an artist for Punch magazine back in the 50’s, so art and particularly drawing, has been in my veins since I was very young. It seemed a very natural thing for me to just pick up a pencil, or some paint brushes and start mark making. Watching cartoons, which my Grandfather used to record on Saturday, triggered my enthusiasm. I used to love watching Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Dungeons and Dragons, King Rollo and Pigeon Street on television after school. I recently found an old sketchbook. You might be able to spot the date I did these. Thank god for parents who keep ‘old stuff’ in the loft !
Did you do any other jobs before becoming an Illustrator ?
As I grew up Art was my ‘thing’ in school, in fact I really didn’t do a lot else, break times were spent drawing caricatures of friends or making up little stories. I took Art at GCSE and ‘A’ Level and then studied for a Bachelor of Education at University. I have been teaching Art to different year groups for the last 15 years. It wasn’t until I completed an on-line diploma in the Summer of 2012, that I considered children’s book illustration as a serious ‘alternative’ career path, or at least something I could do for myself alongside teaching.
If you weren’t so good at drawing, what do you think would be your second choice profession ?
Gosh, I can’t imagine ever not being able to draw.. but when I was younger alongside the desperation to work for Disney, I quite liked the idea of being a professional golfer! I took it quite seriously for a while, although I think the odd ‘hack around’ with my Dad is all I’m good for these days!
How do your ideas for an illustration come about ?
Most of my ideas usually hit me at about 4 in the morning, when I’m reading books, flicking through magazines or when I am out visiting places. Something might catch my eye and I think to myself that that particular image might make a good illustration. I also like to use a sketchbook every now and again. My work has been described as ‘story telling with whimsical charm, warmth and humour’ and I’d like to think that is still the case.
For my most recent illustration ‘Fishermen’s Friends’ I saw an old image of two fisherman who were taking their crabbing pots off the beach. I liked the story that this image was giving so I grabbed my sketchbook to create my idea of what an ‘old sea dog’ might look like. I then set about thinking of a story for my piece and then developed that into what you see below. For my illustration I liked the idea of lots of seagulls impatiently waiting for the catch to be brought up.. and the fisherman suddenly realising what’s in front of them!
Do you like the idea of collaborating with an author to create a book or would you prefer to create the whole things from start to finish ?
I would certainly love to create my own ‘written and illustrated’ picture books one day. I have a number of stories I’ve written but I feel my writing skills need refining and my stories need polishing before I share them with the world! For now, my immediate aim is to illustrate a picture book for a writer… something that involves dinosaurs.. or jungles, or robots, or fisherman… or spaceships…. I could go on, haha!
Do you work from set briefs from publishers or suggest ideas and images to them as well ? What are you currently working on?
Yes on both counts. Usually I get sent the brief with some quickly scribbled suggestions as to where the designer would like the illustrations to go. I then go away and produce some roughs which are then picked over. If the roughs are accepted, I then go on to final artwork. It’s during the ‘roughs’ stage where the fun can happen, ideas are formed and extra fun touches are added. I am currently working on two educational titles for Oxford University Press involving rainforests and Mammoths and a short story involving a family of Whales for Little Tiger Press.
What subjects do you most enjoy illustrating ?
Ha, I love illustrating most things! Its probably easier to say what I shy away from… namely horses.. cars (transport), buildings.. I’m slowly tackling these subjects one at a time but let’s just say they are not the easiest.
I know that you are also an Art Teacher, do you do this full-time and if so when do you get time to illustrate ?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I teach Art full time and have done for the past 15 years. I love my job. If I have a deadline I will usually do an hour before school and then two or three hours in the evening. I get the chance to really sink my teeth into a project at weekends and holidays. It can be tricky juggling school, illustrating and home life but I guess if you want something badly enough there is usually a way!
Here’s a few favourite characters that maybe familiar to you.
Do you work with sketchbooks, how important is working in this way for you ? Can you tell us a little about how you prepare illustrations for a new book idea (i.e. with a list of words, looking up related images on the internet, brain storming with your cat… Action Alf !)
Yes I do use a sketchbook when I want to rough out character design as I showed with the ‘Salty Sea Dogs’. I also use one when just sitting in front of the T.V, usually there is nothing on to watch so I will draw instead. It can be anything that pops into my head ! When creating a new character, especially when I am drawing an animal, I will usually write a list of it’s main features. For a lion perhaps I’ll write – big mane, sharp teeth, big nose, etc. I will then try and make sure I include these features in my drawings. I will then use google to reference what lions look like. Sometimes I will draw the true form and then play around with it to fit my style. Action Alf, (my cat) always comes in at the most inopportune times offering his words of advice !!
Can you please share with our readers your studio ? What are on your walls?
I’m lucky enough to have my own little studio at the back of my house , my ‘Man Cave!’ as my wife likes to call it!
I work in photoshop using a 22HD Cintiq with a lightbox to the left and a scanner on the right. On my window sill are all the books I love and on my shelf are all the bits and bobs that I love collecting and aid my creativity. I have been lucky enough to have met some amazing illustrators over the last couple of years and they have been kind enough to swap their artwork with me. I wonder if you can spot who they are?
I can spot a few that I know here by Penny and Karl, and it’s great to see where you work and a selection of the treasures that live there too.
Which artists / illustrators work do you find most inspirational and why ?
Ooh there have been lots over the years! Growing up I was lucky enough to be given a lot of Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak, Quintin Blake and Judith Kerr books. During my teens and early twenties it was Raymond Briggs and Axel Scheffler, both of whom who I have been lucky enough to meet. More recently I’m inspired by a whole wealth of talent. Marc Boutevant, Nikki Dyson and Jim Field are current faves. I will always read the illustrations of a new picture book before actually reading the words. What excites me most is the composition and character design and I often think about how that illustrator has taken those words to add another dimension to the story. For me, there has never been a better time to be involved in illustration and Picture books.
Are there any projects, artistic areas or ideas that you have bubbling away in your mind for a rainy day, that you can perhaps share with us ?
I’m always thinking up new little stories and illustrations, its a side effect of not being able to sleep that well! I do have something bubbling away actually and this is a little exclusive… For the last few months the ‘Creative Attic’ has been developing illustrations with verses to accompany them. The ‘Creative Attic’ is made up of myself, Karl West and Karl Newson. Karl Newson has the most amazing writing ability and one day over a twitter chat between the three of us ‘CA’ was born. It’s just in its infancy at the moment but hopefully we will be able to share more over the coming months.
The ‘Creative Attic’ sounds an exciting collaboration Tim, I’ll look forward to seeing more.
Above are a couple of pieces Tim illustrated to wet the appetite, ‘The Hip Hop Swingers!’ & ‘Slow Moving Heavy Load!’ (words by Karl Newson). A slightly different style below and a beautiful rendition of the Northern Lights too.
There’s more info about Tim on Karl Newson’s wonderful Mudwaffler site and more illustrations on his agent’s site Good Illustration. You can also find him on his website timbudgen.com or on twitter – twitter.com/timbudgen .
Great to ‘meet’ you Tim, thanks for contributing to Fishink Blog, I really look forward to seeing some of your books come to life and hope to catch up in ‘the real world’ sometime soon. Flippers crossed! : )