Illustrator Q&A: Levi Pinfold

Illustrator Q&A: Levi Pinfold

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?

LP: About four months, give or take.songfromsomewhereelse6

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.

songfromsomewhereelse1BRK: Was it challenging to get the balance right behind light and shadow to create the eerie, ethereal atmosphere in The Song From Somewhere Else?

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.

songfromsomewhereelse5
BRK: Was there any scene or character that was particularly fun to bring to life?

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)

Head here to learn more or to purchase a copy of The Song From Somewhere Else, and you can read our interview with author A.F. Harrold here!

 

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Synopsis

Frank doesn't know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He's big, he's weird and he smells - or so everyone in Frank's class thinks.And yet, there's something nice about Nick's house. There's strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever.But there's more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn't the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help .A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it. Written by the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Levi Pinfold, this is perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.
Levi Pinfold
About the author

Levi Pinfold

Levi Pinfold has been drawing from imagination for as long as he can remember. His published picture books are The Django, Black Dog and Greenling. Black Dog won the prestigious CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2013. Born in the Forest of Dean, he has somehow found himself living in northern NSW, Australia. He likes paintings, books, music, and some cats.

Books by Levi Pinfold

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