An Interview with Helen Braid - Little Alf’s illustrator
Find out about what life is like as an illustrator...
An interview with Helen Braid
The Illustrator of the Little Alf adventure books....
This week we caught up with Helen Braid. Helen is the founder of 'Ellie Illusrates' and is an incredible graphic designer and illustrator. I first began work with Helen in 2015 and was blown away by her incredible talent and designs. Last week I announced the new Little Alf book covers and thought it would be a great idea to find out what life is like as an illustrator...
Why did you become an illustrator?!
I'd worked as a graphic designer for 14 years and always enjoyed the more illustrative part of any projects I was working on. I wrote a blog at the time and started including illustration to compliment the stuff I was writing about, I gradually started being approached by other bloggers to create bits and pieces of illustration for them, and it all really grew from there!
What qualifications do you need to become an illustrator?
I have a BA in media studies which actually only featured one art subject as part of the course - however a final year work placement at a graphic design studio lead to a full time junior graphic design post. That set me off on a creative path that has eventually ended up with me working for myself. So I guess it goes to show that the exact subject nature of your qualifications doesn't always determine where you end up!
What if your most favourite illustration so far with your work?
I adore working on the Little Alf illustrations! I think my favourite to date is 'The Secrets in the Wood' - I love the sense of movement in the image, with Hannah charging along on the black, and the wild horses in the background. For me this illustration has so much energy.
How did you create the Little Alf book covers?
I always start by chatting to Hannah about the main topics within the story. It's always useful to read some chapters to give a real flavour of the book. Now that I've worked on several of the Little Alf covers I feel comfortable with the look and feel of the illustrations and its such a pleasure to create each subsequent cover as Hannah and Little Alf grow and the bond between the 2 becomes ever stronger. They have such fun adventures! Once I have an idea that I'm happy with I start on pencil sketches, and then complete the sketches in pen. The mono image is then taken onto my computer where I bring it to life with colour!
How long does it take you to create & complete a Little Alf cover!?
I like to give myself around a week to work on a single cover. Although I won't spend a full week drawing and colouring, I like to have plenty of time to try sketching different ideas and let options rattle around in my head. With 'The Secrets in the Wood' I spent a lot of time looking at real life photographs of running horses as I wanted the movement of the wild horses in the background to look natural.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to become an illustrator one day?
Work hard and put in the time to create a portfolio you are happy with. This will be such a help to you when it comes to applying for art courses or interviewing for jobs or pitching to clients. My own portfolio is my website which shows the best of my recent work. I update it regularly - a fresh and professional website gives clients a real flavour of the style of your work, and also the confidence that you will understand their brief and do a great job!
To find out more about Ellie illustrated visit Helen's website here - www.ellieillustrates.co.uk
& if you have any questions just tweet to us @AlfLittle X