Friday, December 30, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Interview with Joe Chisholm

Today I'll be starting a new inerview thread that I hope will become as popular as my Author Spotlight interviews: Artist Spotlight interviews! 
For quite some time, I've been wanting to find some artists out there who would like to talk about their work here on my blog.  Being an artist (of sorts) myself, I'm curious about others out there like me, especially those who write AND illustrate. 
So, without further ado, here is my first interview with Joe Chisholm:

A book cover for Chris Northern. 
Hand painted in acrylic.
1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself: What got you interested in art?  Have you taken any art classes?

I'm a freelance illustrator who lives with his family in Plymouth, England.  I spend my life drawing as it is much more fun than being a proper grown up!
2.  What is your preferred medium and why?

It's very hard to select a favourite medium as I enjoy a wide range of techniques.  I really love working digitally as it provides a great deal of freedom of expression but then there is always something to be said for the joy of picking up a paintbrush.

3.  Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?

At present I only have a portfolio for my children's illustration at but I will soon have another for my book covers and design work.

4.  Do you have a favorite artist?  If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?

My all time favourite artist has to be Paul Kidby, His illustration work for the more recent Terry Pratchett books combine playfulness and superb technical skill and always make me smile.
A sketch commissioned for a roleplaying game rulebook. 
The subject is in fact a good friend of mine!
5.  Can you remember one of the first things you drew/sculpted/painted/photographed etc.?  What makes it memorable? 

A picture of my family when I was about 2... it must have stayed on the kitchen wall until I was at least 15!

6.  This being primarily an author’s blog, I would like to ask if you’ve ever designed any artwork for an author (cover image, maps, interior art - including font styles - etc.)?  Do you have a favorite genre (fantasy/sci-fi, thriller, romance etc.) you like to design for?  If not, would you be interested in designing a book cover?

I have designed the covers of my own self published books and I was recently commissioned to create some covers for my friend and author Chris Northern.  So far my work has been for children's and fantasy books but I'd love to branch out!  

A bear in a tree . . . one of my sillier illustrations.

7.  Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works? 

When illustrating a cover you can find no better inspiration than the book itself.  A good author creates such a strong image in your head that you can almost see the artwork before you start.

8.  Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and discovered a whole new genre of art?  How did it turn out? 

I recently exhibited at a major design show in London, to try something a bit different I wrote and illustrated a pop-up book which proved to be a mammoth feat of engineering before I even began the artwork.  I was very happy with the result though.

9.  Do you have any other interesting hobbies or maybe a fun story about an experience involving your artwork? 

A page from my pop-up book!
Too many to list but they include playing the piano, reenactment and computer games.... anything a little geeky in fact, much to my wife's despair!

10.  Where can we reach you if we are interested in commissioning you for our own projects?
11.  What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?

Starting... and knowing when to stop.

12.  And finally, is there anything else you'd like to say?

One thing I'm fast learning is that the worlds of literature and illustration are both changing.  More and more authors are turning to self publishing rather than using a traditional publisher and illustrators are beginning to follow suit.  This can only be a good thing as it allows a level of freedom of expression which can rarely be attained through traditional publishing.  I look forward to seeing this unrestricted creativity continue to thrive!
The front cover of the roleplaying game rulebook.  All illustration, design, logo, text etc. created by me.

  * * *
Thank you Joe for taking part in my Artist Spotlight interview!  I hope your artwork continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future!
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at


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