A BRIGHT NEW TALENT ON THE CHILDREN’S BOOK SCENE – Anthea Stead, Illustrator

At the CBCA Conference recently, I met a wonderful new illustrator, Anthea Stead. Anthea has recently been accepted to The Style File and she agreed to visit Kids’ Book Capers to talk about her art.

Anthea, can you tell us about your journey as an illustrator?

I had an art teacher in high school who believed in me. She suggested I apply for the Sydney College of the Arts – BA in Visual Communication Design, and I was accepted.

After 4 long years there I started work as an art director of magazines. 15 years and a lot of magazines later both here and in London I realised I was always placing illustrations in my mags, books, whatever, wherever possible.

I had been trying to turn every job into an illustration job and the natural progression was to finally leave magazines. I had been illustrating for other magazines on the side for years and it wasn’t enough.

I have a good friend Mo Johnson, who has 3 books published (including latest release is Noah’s Garden), suggested I turn my hand to children’s books. She has been nudging me ever since and I am very grateful for that.

Besides magazine illustrations I have done a mural for the Powerhouse Museum – Ecologic Exhibition and also illustrations for a circus exhibition there, a couple of book covers for The Australian Film, Television and Radio School and a small kid’s zodiac booklet. My holy grail is a children’s book.

Where does your inspiration come from and what’s your favourite part of being an illustrator?

My inspiration comes from artists, magazines, people, my dog, my daughter, anything. I love all of it, though I do love ‘colouring in’.

You were shortlisted in the CYA comp last year. Can you tell us about what you entered and what the judges said about it?

I entered in the ‘The Legend of Arlee Farley’ option. It was an illustration of a dragon who had her nails painted! The judges were all very positive with a few things for me to work on which I hope I have now sorted.

You have just been accepted for the Style File. Can you tell us what the Style File is and about the process involved in submitting?

The Style file was another Holy Grail for me. It’s  a website where you can find an illustrator quickly and easily and apparently publishers use this site to find new talent. You have to submit work and wait and hope they let you in!

You submit eight pieces in order of preference. I sent in a copy of the mural and few random illustrations from books in my head.

How would you describe the style of your work?

I guess its colourful, sometimes humorous and playful. It depends on the job.

Can you tell us about your workspace?

Well I am truly lucky as we renovated a year ago and I now have my own room to ‘play’ in. I get to look out at the trees and sometimes deer and horses snort and neigh as they go by. Is there a children’s book in that! Its also very messy, so I just look out the window.