Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 19, 2015

Illustrator Saturday – Jacqueline East


Jacqueline East

Jacqueline has been illustrating children’s books for over twenty years.

She has two main styles; her images for picture and story books are full of light and atmosphere, then there is a colourful and lively style for educational, activity and novelty books. She also works in black & white and commissions include educational, trade, publishing, greetings and advertising. Her work cover a whole spectrum of subjects for parent and child, animals, farm, jungle, to school, visit to the dentists, ballerinas and other typical child orientated subjects.

Here’s Jacqueline explaining her process:

This piece is from the book “Cuddle Bunny” part of the Tiny Tales series written by Charles Ghigna and published by Capstone.

Very often, the books I work on have tight deadlines. If I have months to work on a book, I have the luxury of time to work out characters in a sketchbook and pencil out “thumbnails” ( very rough small sketches ) of how each page will look. However, without this time, I work out these things as I go along.

Cuddle Bunny’s character was developed in the cover sketch.


Firstly, I pencil the image on to layout or detail paper. This is very much like tracing paper; it has a beautiful texture for pencil drawing and I enjoy the feel of it. Here all characters and composition is worked out; this means lots of scribbling and rough drawing until the final image emerges. I use a putty rubber at this stage as it doesn’t rub out the complete workings, giving me options to where I put the final line and maintaining the original energy and life of the drawing.


All the book’s images are initially sketched out this way then scanned and emailed to the publisher for comments. Once I have the confirmation from the publisher ( sometimes adjustments are requested ) I can then transfer this to water colour paper. Working the image out this way means I don’t destroy the surface of the water colour paper.

The image is traced on to the watercolour paper using a lightbox. I then compare the 2 images and particularly make sure that the facial expressions are exactly the same.

I will paint big blocks of light colour first, like the wall colour, table and the curtains. Sometimes the pencil work may be too thick so I use the putty rubber to pull it out a little. When the artwork is all coloured, some lines will be strengthened using coloured crayons, as well as extra details like the pattern on the curtains.


I adjusted it’s colour, opacity and shape to fit into my image;


process6cuddle bunnyHow long have you been illustrating?

I left college 1n 1983 and launched straight in to my career.

bunny tear

What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work? I had a painting of all my teddies and toys sitting on my bed. I took this and the rest of my portfolio to the Greeting card fair where Nigel Quiney designs bought it and commissioned another, for baby christening cards. At Christmas time, I wrapped each one of these up as presents for my Mum and Nan so they could have evidence that my career as an illustrator had begun!


Did you study art in college? If so, where did you attend and what did you study?

I had a very enjoyable foundation year in Worcester ( UK ) where we all tried our hands at every discipline. I loved it all but it was very clear that all I wanted to really do was children’s books. Our tutor had us pulling apart pop-up books to learn the mechanics so we could create our own and for years after I made many for my own entertainment! I was so happy to be able to draw and paint every day that I would be sitting outside every morning waiting for the college to open and would often work through lunch breaks!

I then attained a BA in Graphic design at Bristol and recently an MA in Authorial Illustration at Falmouth art college.


How did you develop your style?

For me, style develops organically with each job’s demands. Some clients want dots for eyes, some want a round eye with the white showing….In the early days my work was much loser and cartoony. Over the years my style has tightened and the animals become more realistic, the rendering more careful. I think after years of drawing in a more cartoon-style, I wanted to prove I was I could also create light, atmosphere, texture. However, now, I’m wanting to loosen my style up again! I think to be an artist means constantly being inspired to move on with medium and style.

bunny and boy

Did you start out doing greeting cards?



How many children’s book have you illustrated?

So many I have lost count!


How did that contract come your way?

I frequently visit the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna. One year, I was carrying my portfolio around asking for interviews, There weren’t any people at the Ragged Bears stand so I left a flyer. A few weeks later I had a call saying they saw my flyer and did I have any story ideas? There then followed one of those magical, memorable times. I travelled down to see them in my little Morris Minor van, dog in the back. They had beautiful offices in the Dorset countryside and when they saw my story idea they said yes! After this, I carried on down to Cornwall, got on a boat to the Scilly Isles and had 2 wonderful weeks camping feeling on top of the world!


Have you worked with educational publishers?

Yes with many!


Have you done any illustrations for magazines?

Occasionally. At the moment I have the odd commission for Highlights magazine. In the past I have done work for the Brownie magazine, for the RSPCA and myself and a friend had 2 long running cartoon strips, but I can’t remember the publication!


The books I am most happy with and think are most successful are always the last ones I did. And I am very excited about these pub by Capstone and written by Charles Ghigna. They are wonderful stories and were an absolute joy to illustrate.


Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?

I have and I do! There are some up my sleeve at this very moment!


Do you have an artist rep.?

I have had agents in the past.


What types of things do you do to get work?

The Bologna Children’s book fair is wonderful for networking, there is also the London Book Fair. Having a large presence on the internet is great – through being on various sites like and Directoryofillustrators. I don’t have time to blog but have a Facebook page. However, I still think it’s very important to meet people face to face. Also clients like to have a physical image; a postcard of your work will be pinned to an office wall but internet image could be forgotten. Agents also have got me lots of work in the past.


Have you done any illustrations for a self-published book? Are you still open to working with a self-published author?

I wouldn’t particularly want to self-publish my own book because there is so much other work involved like marketing, copyrighting and advertising. Also, publishers are expert at what they do, so if they don’t want your story, there’s a good reason why! However, I have worked on some other people’s self published projects where they client is producing books specifically for themselves and can afford the fee. It’s not generally something that appeals because to protect everybody’s rights, I like to work with a legal contract in place.


Do you have a favorite medium you use?

I currently use tubed-water colours and coloured crayons. But I’m always experimenting and playing with other medium.


Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Yes although it depends on the project. I always use animal reference.


Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

My work is 95% hand drawn but it always gets scanned in to Pshop as clients always require work in a digital format and I have a fancy A3 scanner! It’s also great to drop in textures or to make adjustments that would have meant a complete redraw in the old days.

chasing the jester

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

Yes, very good for precise details.

bunny gift

Do you have a studio in your house?

I have worked above a chocolate factory, from a caravan by the sea, and now from my home in Bristol.


Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

I’m not a fan of routine! I have no problem working every day whether it’s for a client or for myself, rarely a day goes by without me drawing.


Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Yes but it’s a secret!

bear love

Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?

Definitely – this interview for example!


What are your career goals?

To do more picture books!


What are you working on now?

I have my own story ideas and I’m developing a new style?


Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you?

Technique tips? I think everyone has their own way, we all use the same materials to very differing effects. But one thing I can say is draw draw draw. Sketchbooks are invaluable, go out sketching, sketch anything and everything; it’s all good for the hand, the eye, the brain and experience.


Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If illustration is your passion just keep at it. Expect lots of knock-backs and turn-downs but also expect to be published one day!


Thank you Jacqueline for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.

To see more of Jacueline’s work, you can visit her website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Jacqueline. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Really impressive, thanks for introducing us to Jacqueline East – awesome name, too.


  2. Jacqueline, I Absolutely LOVED your explanation of your JOURNEY and process. Your characters and details are precious! I was glad to read that you are always sketching. (I cannot help myself. I seem to always have a micron pen with me and am doodling on any available paper, no matter where I am.) I appreciate your passion and unfailing stick-to-it-tiveness, as I am a late bloomer and any encouragement from someone who is “there” is great! Looks like you have enjoyed the journey as well!


  3. Thanks for the inspiring interview! 🙂


  4. Hi Jacqueline from Janet Kusmierski! Nice post and I love your work!


  5. Thanks for sharing your process in detail. Your art is wonderful.


  6. Well done! Good questions, good answers, love the art.
    Jacqueline, what kind of scanner do you use to get your art into the computer? Brand name and model #?


  7. Thanks for sharing! Perhaps we are long lost relatives, my maiden name is East!


  8. Jacqueline’s art is fantastic. Love the compositions and colors! 🙂


  9. Excellent article! Excellent artist! Thanks, Jackie, for turning our TINY TALES series into a HUGE HIT! 😉


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