Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 25, 2020

Illustrator Saturday: Gillian Flint

Gillian Flint has had a passion for drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember. A career in illustration was a natural path for her to take. She has worked as a professional illustrator since graduating from an animation and illustration degree in 2003. Her work has since been published in the UK, USA and Australia. She enjoys creating a variety of styles to work in using watercolours, crayons, ink and digital illustration.

In her spare time Gillian enjoys reading, spending time with her family and pottering about in the garden on sunny days.
Gillian Flint is represented by James Burns


My process for Button and Bundle was a little painted in layers and put together on the computer. That way I could change and repaint colours if I wanted to.

First thing I do is start thinking about each character in the book. What they will look like and wear and I draw a character sheet exploring those ideas.  Here are the character sheets for Button and Bundle and their dolls, petal and rose.

I usually draw thumbnails and pencil roughs for each spread in the book. Below is the first spread in Button and Bundle.

For Button and Bundle I drew and painted all the shadows in first. These were done with watercolours, red col-erase pencil and B5 and B3 pencils.

I then used watercolour, ink and pastels to create the colour and texture of the illustration.

I put these together on the computer to create the final art. Button and Bundle is the first book I have had published with this style so it was a fairly new style to me at the time. I worked this way minimise mistakes and make it easier to change if I need to and stay on track with the deadline.

Finished illustration.

Interview with Gillian Flint:

How long have you been illustrating?
I have been illustrating about 5 years in Childrens books and before that I worked in Greeting cards where I designed and illustrated for about 10 years.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?  

It’s hard to remember my first paid work but my first job as a junior designer in a greeting card company. The first freelance work I had was a greeting card which I got through my agent at the time.

Where did you study art?

I first studied art at secondary school and then at Manchest Met University where I did a degree in illustration with animation. It was a time where I really explored and I learnt a lot about the process behind Childrens books.

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

I love learning and I love art so I really enjoyed my time at Uni. If I had to pick one I think I loved drawing from life the most.

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

I think I was always exploring and trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go in at school. I wanted to try everything and learn everything. It’s taken me a really long time to figure out my styles. It’s something I think has evolved over time and I feel I finally got to grips with in more recent years.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

In the third year of my uni course we learnt a lot about the business side of freelancing. The AOI came and did portfolio reviews and a lecture. And althought the school didn’t help me personally get work the course gave a lot of good advice on what to do next in terms of getting an agent and sending out work.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I think I was about 9 when I first wanted to be an illustrator and I remember wanting to be just like Quentin Blake! I loved painting and I made my own illustrated newsletters for class. It has always been a dream of mine and after I had children I decided to really focus my efforts into trying to make it happen.

Was the board book GOOD NIGHT published by Highlight Hello, the first book you illustrated?

Yes it was. Along with a couple of board books for the Australian publisher Five Mile Press. I worked on the three books back to back. It was a very exciting time for me.

How did you get that first contract?

I emailed Vicki Wilden-lebrecht, Brights founder, and asked for her advice. I had mostly worked in cards up to this point and I wanted to pursue the dream of working in Childrens books. Vicki gave me direction. She phoned me up and told me about these book she had put me forward to illustrate. She guided me through the procerss from start to finish and was very supportive.

How many board book have you illustrated?

I think I have illustrated 9 board books in total.

You Illustrated Eileen Spinelli’s board book LOVE YOU ALWAYS. How did the contract come your way?

Love you Always was such a joy to work on. I got a phone call from my agent at Bright, James who asked if I was interested in doing this book. I immediatly said yes and everything went from there.

Was Button and Bundle Knoft your first illustrated picture book?

I had been developing a new style and I showed my agent at the time who was Alli Brydon. She was really excited and supportive and asked me to created more pieces for my porfolio. Alli showed my work to Knopf and Button and Bundle became the first picture book that I did in this style. It was such a great experience working on Button and Bundle. I adored the story written by Gretchen McLellan and I got to illustrate in this wonderful new way.

Balletball is coming out from Charlesbridge in February. Were you working on Button and Bundle at the same time?

I started work on Button and Bundle in 2017 and then the publication got pushed to the 2019 publication so I had a generous deadline but all the work was completed a while before starting work on Balletball.

Lady Miss Penny Goes To Lunch, published by Random House is coming out in July. Is all the artwork finished for this book?

Yes I am very excited for you all to meet Lady Miss Penny! It is such a fun book about a group of animals learning what to do and not to do at a restaurant. I finished the work for Lady Miss Penny in the summer last year. The work has come in gently one after the other the last couple of years.

It looks like James Burn at Bright Children’s is doing a great job for you with three contracts from three different publishing houses. How long have you been represented by James? 

I have been represented by James and the agents at Bright for 7 years now. They have a fantastic team of agents.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

I have not, but I have had a few ideas for a wordless picture book and it is something I would love to illustrate. I am a big fan of Sydney Smith and I loved the wordless book Footpath Flowers he did with Jon Arn Lawson.I think it is called Sidewalk Flowers in the America.

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

I love to write. It is something I am working towards with the support of my agents. It is a dream to have my own author illustrated picture books in the shops one day.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

I would consider any work that comes through the agency I am with. I do consider small commissions and but a picture book is a big commitment and I would definitely want my agent to be involved with any collaboration like that.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I am not sure but I am proud of the work I have done so far and working on Button and Bundle was a special project to me. I think we all have people who move in and out of our lives and can affect us greatly and then be gone. It’s good to remember them and cherish our time together like Button does in the book.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love working traditonally in watercolours and coloured pencils. For the black line style of work I use a Japanese Pentel Brush pen.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, I started out working completley digitally and I still do use the computer for some work. But over time I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I did when I painted in watercolours so I decided to concentrate on developing that. I still love to experiment with media so if I find something I enjoy that might change my style or add to it I will explore it further.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

I use a wacom with my computer which I use to edit and put together the work I’ve painted. Especially when I’ve painted items separatley. I also use it to illustrate magazine work.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I do try my best to work during the week and not at weekends if I can help it. I try to keep a balance between work and family time. Sometimes I work at night but I try not to go past 9.00 anymore.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

I have illustrated for Highlights Magazine and Highlights High Five. I mostly worked with a digital style for these which they had seen in my portfolio and I had a lot of fun illustrating them.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I usually do try to gather as much information on the project before I start to draw. Sometimes a character comes to mind as soon as I have read the manuscript but there is always research and reference I need to do for every project. When I was working on Balletball I did loads of research on baseball. I love baseball and I learned as much about it as I could before and during the process the illustrating Balletball. Research is something I enjoy doing, it is usually really interesting and for me it’s essential to understand a project fully.

Have you found the time to do school visits?

I have yet to start doing school visits, but I am looking into it. It is something I would like to do in the future. It would be so great to share and talk to the children I illustrate books for. To get their reactions and thoughts would be wonderful.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I think the internet definitely opens doors and is a vital tool for todays illustrators. Not only for showcasing your work, but also for connecting with people in the industry and becoming part of the childrens book community.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

Mostly I would love to have my own author illustrated picture book out one day and to be able to keep working in this industry I love.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a project that I can’t discuss at the moment, but it is very exciting and it is not something I have done before so it is another new experience for me as an artist.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I love to work with hot pressed watercolour paper and I use it for both my styles. I use a thick 300gms. For me the paper seems to make a big difference in how I work and it has to be a good quailty.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Oh I would say that for me I wanted to have a style that was recogniseable as my work and to be different to what’s out there. Don’t try to do a style that you think people will want. Celebrate your own way of drawing and painting and try to use the materials that bring you the most joy. And don’t give up!

Thank you Gillian for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Gillian’s work, you can visit her at: 

Agent Website:



If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Gillian. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. So charming. Thanks for a beautiful post.


  2. […] love this illustrator’s […]


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