One of the many reasons we loved the stunning new book The Song From Somewhere Else (read more here) was the exquisite drawings by artist Levi Pinfold. We spoke to Levi about his process, style, and inspiration.
BRK: How long was your process for The Song From Somewhere Else?
BRK: When you know you’re drawing for children, do you approach it differently in any way?
Nowadays I’m trying to act as instinctively as possible. Whenever I try to self-edit or talk down to children it always lands me in hot water.
BRK: Did you decide on the timing and placement of your artwork, or were you given a brief? Tell us more about collaborating with author A.F. Harrold.
A combination of the two. The whole thing was an organic process. The editor and art director suggested a rough layout of pacing and forwarded this to me. I made some suggestions and we continued to talk it over as I came up with pictures. Ashley [A.F.Harrold] and the folk at Bloomsbury were very understanding during the whole thing, even when I was going off on some kind of strange tangent.
BRK: Your illustrations are stunningly detailed – what drew you to this particular style and artistic medium?
I try not to think about this too much. I’d probably quit if I knew how many unnecessary hours I put into the cracks on a concrete wall or blades of grass! I suppose I’ve always liked looking at detailed images. I enjoy stepping into paintings that seem to operate as their own self-contained worlds. Di Chirico, Hopper, Henry Darger, Chardin, Jeffrey Smart, Rousseau, Andrew Wyeth, Hammershoi, Breughel.
Maybe it’s just how I process what I see around me. I don’t know.
It’s a process of slow accumulation. Every project I do, I feel like I learn a bit more about light and atmosphere, but I don’t feel like I ever fully reach a point I’m happy with. It’s always a challenge. Part of the fun, I guess.
In terms of the eerie atmosphere…Well. I think everyday life is a pretty eerie experience. In my mind I’m only replicating what’s already there.
Long fingered scarecrow shadow creatures are pretty fun. Don’t ask me why, they just are.
BRK: Who are some of the children’s authors and illustrators that you loved growing up, or that inspire you now?
Big respect and admiration for Alan Lee, Dave McKean, Anthony Browne, Shaun Tan, John Burmingham, Mitsumasa Anno, Tove Jansson, Hayao Miyazaki, Roberto Innocenti, Chris Van Allsburg, Angela Barrett, Lisbeth Zwerger, Gennady Spirin, Maurice Sendak, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula LeGuin, Philip Pullman, Alan Garner.
They aren’t all strictly children’s authors and illustrators, but perhaps they all work in a way that can translate to your experience whatever age you are.
I read plenty of age-inappropriate stuff as a kid as well, although I won’t go too far into that. Suffice to say I cracked open the Stephen King when I was far too young.
BRK: Do you have plans for any other kids’ books in the future?
I’m working on a few at the moment. Watch this space…
(All image credits to Levi Pinfold)