Kim Fleming knows how to tell a great story. She tells stories through pictures. Kim’s art creates a sense of affection, warmth and joy. Born in Canada, this now Melbournite has found her calling in illustrating children’s books. She has previously illustrated such picture books as the gorgeous True Blue Santa written by Anne Mangan, Cherish Your Skin by Amy and Jenifer Kuykendall, and Surprise! by Karen Andrews.
Her latest creation is the absolutely lovely Mummy, You’re Special To Me (Scholastic Australia) written by Laine Mitchell. Although released early this year for Mother’s Day, this book is on my gift list for Christmas.
”My mummy is kind. She makes hurts alright.
My mummy is brave. She’s as strong as a knight!
Mummy, you’re special to me.”
As we follow the little giraffe on its’ journey around the world, we encounter varied species of super-mums who are patient, entertaining, playful, artistic, smart, teachers, jokers and nurturers.
Kim Fleming so lovingly captures all the care and adoration between mother and child. From soft watercolour tones to gentle brush strokes, dabs and flicks, to the cutest of animal drawings, Kim’s illustrations are just magical.
I’ve had the pleasure to be able to find out her perspective on being an illustrator; the talented artist behind Mummy, You’re Special To Me – Kim Fleming.
You have illustrated many texts from picture books to chapter books, as well as educational resources. What do you love about illustrating children’s books? Which book type do you find the most rewarding, and why?
The majority of the books I have illustrated are picture books, which I definitely find the most rewarding as an illustrator. Whereas in chapter books or educational books the illustrations are adding to the story, in picture books the illustrations ARE the story. Building a visual narrative which augments the text, or subverts the text, or adds in a sub story not even mentioned in the text is incredibly fun and exciting to conceptualise. I love it when I can really sink my teeth into a project.
Your illustrations are simply beautiful. Do you have a specific style or subjects that you prefer? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
First of all, thank you so much! I’d have to say that I most enjoy illustrating animals and themes stemming from nature and our surrounds. I also really enjoy travel in my own life so illustrations of different cultures where I need to do some “research” into different environments is always stimulating. Inspiration comes from all over – my collection of ephemera from travels and magazine flipping, a particular collage paper, an interesting billboard, a unique window display, and of course fellow artists and illustrators. Pinterest is dangerous!
What is your favourite medium to use?
Definitely watercolours. I also add into that coloured pencils, collage, sometimes acrylics, and occasionally hand-carved stamps as well!
Who is your favourite artist/s?
I find it very difficult to come to a decision on my ‘all-time favourite’ artist, so instead I talk about my CURRENT favourite artists, because they are always changing:
I love Pamela Zagarenski’s beautiful textures and evocative compositions.
I find Catherine Rayner’s fabulous characters and style are so charming.
Fabulous surface designer (and friend) Rebecca Jones has a wonderful style and sense of colour, and her characters are so sweet.
What was your favourite part of ‘Mummy, You’re Special to Me’ to illustrate?
The editors came to me with the idea of having a different animal mother and child for each page, so I think the best part was coming up with all of the different animals to illustrate each verse. The octopus mother enacting a stage play with puppets on each tentacle was a particular favourite. I also really enjoyed coming up with all the cheeky actions for the giraffe in the background.
What was the hardest part?
This will sound trite, but there really was no hard part. Normally a book will have SOME challenge in creation, but this one truthfully flowed from start to finish and was a real joy to work on. I wish every book was like this one!
Which animal is your favourite to draw? Why?
Funnily, I do love a giraffe. The giraffe has been a mascot of mine for many years, he appears on my business card and website and always has. So the fact that Mummy You’re Special To Me’s main character was a giraffe was perfect. I think they are just such funny animals. Natural selection is a curious thing!
What was the highlight for you in 2014?
The release of Mummy You’re Special To Me was definitely a highlight. I have also been getting back into animation for the first time in years, animating a children’s app which has been loads of fun!
Are there any special milestones or events that you are looking forward to in 2015?
The announcement that Mummy You’re Special To Me will be released as a board book version in English and French by Scholastic Canada next year is such a joy for me, because I was born in Canada and speak French! I’m also working on another book for Scholastic Australia at the moment, and I’m looking forward to the launch of the app I mentioned, with hopefully another app in the pipeline.
That’s great! I look forward to seeing more from you! Thank you for your time, Kim! I really appreciate you talking with Boomerang Books!
Thanks so much to you Romi and to Boomerang Books!