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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Lydia Coventry: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

Plymouth University graduate Lydia Coventry has created a bird lover's paradise for the pages of my upcoming colouring book.

Written by Amelia Gregory

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Lydia Coventry contributes a super fun bird-filled image for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. She tells us more about life as a designer at Macmillan Children’s books, and the colourful influence of Oilily.

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Why did you choose to study at Plymouth University and what was the best part of your course?
It’s a funny story actually, I had never visited Plymouth before applying – I knew it was by the sea and that was a bonus alone! I applied to a range of different universities and when I was called for an interview at Plymouth that was my time to explore. Not only did the Illustration course sound fantastic, Plymouth itself just felt . . . right. I think the best part was probably the skills, knowledge and confidence I developed there but also the people I met. I met my boyfriend and some of the best friends I’ve ever had there. To have like-minded people studying with you is just the best feeling!

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How did you get your job at Macmillan Children’s books and what is most enjoyable about your job?
I just finished my Illustration course, and my boyfriend had just started working at publishers Profile Books in London. So I had an extra month alone in our Plymouth flat before I would need to move out. I was constantly looking online for design jobs (well any job really!) and then I came across an amazing advert on The Bookseller for an Assistant Designer. I love absolutely everything about my job, I’ve learnt so much since I started and not just in terms of software but the actual production of a book. You never realise how much hard work and how many people are involved in the production, it has been such a fantastic experience. It’s also incredibly rewarding working with talented Illustrators, which has really helped me develop – every day I’m inspired.

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How have you been building up your portfolio in the past year?
It sounds silly but I’ve been trying to draw exactly what I want to draw and when I want to draw it. The nice thing about finishing University is the freedom. I was so used to working on a brief, researching and drawing constantly to meet a deadline – it felt a bit robotic and at times forced, I didn’t have time to develop my drawing skills as much as I wanted. When I finished I wanted to get control back and just doodle away without thinking which is exactly what I have been doing this year. My next step is to take my doodles and develop them into a project or final stand alone pieces, which I’m really looking forward to.

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What is your favourite way to work?
I love being as free as I can when drawing. I don’t really think about anything else whilst doodling and I have found that approach to be the most effective. I love using collage and ink brush pens, I find that they really help with the looseness of my lines and colour. I also love using colouring pencils and wax crayons. I tend to work in layers then combine them in Photoshop, I think experimentation and playfulness is key, I love not knowing exactly what the end result will look like.

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What was the brief for the recent Ohh Deer competition that you entered and what was the outcome?
Ohh Deer always have such fabulous competitions! Recently they were on the look out for designs which they could add to their greeting card collection. They were looking for something fresh but something that would also fit in with their cute and quirky brand. I remembered a little doodle I did while at Uni; it was something a bit soppy I did for my boyfriend and I thought it was something cute that other people could relate too, so I entered it! I was very lucky to win along with 9 others whose cards have been added to their collection.

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Where and how did your love of colour and pattern begin?
My mum has played a huge part with my love for colour and pattern! From a young age I grew up with her love for the gorgeous Dutch brand – Oilily. She dressed myself and my siblings in it for years (until we got to the age when we wanted to just wear denim to her dismay). I have always been incredibly fond of their eye for detail, and their wacky colour combinations are so quirky and inspiring. I have been very lucky to inherit her love for the brand, which has really helped my confidence for using colour.

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What inspired your artwork for my colouring book?
I absolutely love colour, texture and character design so this was the perfect brief to fuse them together. This piece focuses on my love for nature depicting beautifully coloured birds of paradise allowing for the ‘colourer’ to explore any combination of colours they wish. Within this scene nothing needs to be an ordinary colour, not even the plantlife, as a rich diverse Jungle can offer a huge variety of colours!

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What do you find most exciting about the prospect of your work appearing in the colouring book?
I’m really thrilled to be appearing in the colouring book. I am eager to see what colours/patterns people use when they colour in my page. I love not knowing what the end result will look like so that is something to really look forward too!

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What do you do to unwind and does it ever influence your designs?
Oh it definitely influences my work! I love watching old movies and cartoons I grew up with like ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys’ and ‘Madeline’ (based on the original illustrations by Ludwig Bemelmans). I am constantly on the look out for inspiration whether it be the clothes they wear, the expression in a face, the flowers in a certain scene – it all pops up in my work one way or another. It’s also a must to take time out of work and just relax, I love going to the cinema, watching old movies, sewing, and spending time with my family and friends.

Lydia Coventry is featured in Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion, jam-packed with artistic talent, and available on Kickstarter soon!

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