Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 12, 2021

Illustrator Saturday – Sandra Herrgott

Sandra is a contemporary Australian illustrator, author, painter and Graphic Designer. In 2000 Sandra finished her studies in Landscape Architecture / Urban Design in Germany and graduated with a Master’s degree. For 8 years she worked in Germany, the UK and Australia in the Design Industry. In 2005 Sandra finished her studies in Art & Design at the London College of Communication in London.

She has been writing and illustrating professionally since 2010. She has worked in many mediums and has yearly exhibited her work in her local community in Brisbane as well as completed commissioned work.

In collaboration with Robert Herrgott, Sandra has written, illustrated and self-published three children’s picture books: “Mellie”, “Mellie learns to forgive” and “Red Rabbit loves to dream”. These days Sandra works part-time out of her studio in Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia focusing on her third Mellie book “Mellie’s special friend”.

After studying Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, she found her true passion for illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2018.

Sandra works both digitally in Photoshop and traditionally with Watercolors and have developed a whimsical style in both mediums. Animals and children in nature are her favourite subjects to illustrate and she’s excited to be illustrating the kinds of books she loves reading to her own children.

HERE IS SANDRA DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

Often, I do color studies, but with this illustration I knew the colors I wanted to use. Here I added the base colors. Lots of my final illustrations don’t show the linework, but in this spread I kept the linework as part of the illustration.

And finally adding details, light and shadows to finish the illustration using different photoshop brushes and scanned in watercolor textures.

INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA HERRGOTT:

Have you always lived in Australia?

No, I grew up in Germany. Since I was 14, I wanted to be able to speak English. That’s why I went to live and work in London for four years after finishing university. I made so many Australian friends there, that I went to Australia on a working holiday visa in 2005. I planned to be here only for one year, but I got a job and a business visa and 4 years later I met my husband here. Australia is home now.

What was the first thing you illustrated that you were paid for?

When I worked in London as a Graphic Designer, I started to illustrate my own greeting cards and one card store was stocking those. It was very special to me.

How long have you been illustrating?

Just for fun since I took an evening illustration class at the London College of Communication in London in 2004. Professionally, I have been illustrating for clients from 2019.

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

My first piece of art was on greeting cards in 2004.

What made you decide to study Landscape Architecture and Urban Design?

I didn’t really know what to do with my life, so I read through a book of professions and the most interesting job description I found was Landscape Architecture/Urban Design. I thought I would be either drawing/designing or spending time in nature. Both are still my favorite things to do.

Did you ever take a job doing Landscape Architecture and Urban Design?

Yes, I worked as a student with different companies in Germany and then also 4 years in Brisbane, Australia.

What made you decide to illustrate children’s picture books?

It was my dream to illustrate a picture book since I did the evening illustration class in London. My teacher encouraged me to send my book dummy to a publisher. It didn’t come to anything, but I started to create picture books for my friends and family members. It was so much fun creating personal stories for them. I have to thank my husband who explained to me that I spread myself to thin trying to many different creative adventures and that it would be better to focus on one main area. For me this was telling stories through watercolor illustrations.

Did you take any online courses for children’s illustrating?

Last year I was a member of ‘Let’s make picture books’ run by Stephanie Fizer Coleman and Denise Holmes. I learnt so much and created some portfolio pieces I really like. Right now, I am enrolled in Mira Reisberg’s course ‘Writing and Illustrating children’s picture books’.

What type of work did you do, when you first started your career?

When I started working as a freelance illustrator, I took on private commissions and worked with my husband on our first book together.

Was Mellie your first picture book?

Yes.

How did that opportunity come about?

I wrote and partly illustrated the Mellie book after a bible study understanding God’s grace for the first time. I asked my husband to edit it. He rewrote it into a great rhyming book. It was so much better than what I wrote, still having the same message about grace. I had to redo all the illustrations though, which in the end achieved a better product. It was both a great learning experience as well as a blessing getting feedback from parents and their children how this book helped them to understand grace.

You have so many beautiful illustrations. Was Tonight I Wear Jammies by Taylor Freeman April 2020 the start of illustrating picture books for self-published authors?

No, I illustrated Flight of Fancy by Debbie Sullivan first in 2019, even though it came out only in Dec 2020.

In June 2020, you illustrated 5 picture books by Katrina Villegas dealing with grief. How did the two of you connect?

Katrina contacted me. I think she found me on one of my social media platforms and my Esty store.

In July 2020, you illustrated Pink, The Furry-Godmother by Simon Perrie, Vaishi Thiru. This is a shorter book. Is it sold as a picture book?

Yes, it’s a shorter picture book available through Amazon.

In Aug 2020 Sweet Dreams, Sweet One, Good Night by Jamie Taylor and Sandra Herrgott you illustrated. Were you working on this book while illustrating the Godmother book?

Yes, for a while I worked on 3 books at the same time. It was intense and definitely taught be to be wiser with my time management. However, each book was in a different phase and by God’s grace I managed to get them all done in a suitable time frame.

In November 2020 you illustrated Good News for Me! by Brooke Kashou. How long did you work on this book?

I loved working with Brooke. I think it took me 3-4 months once I started the sketches. She was very patient to wait to work with me until I finished a few other deadlines.

You finished out 2020 with Flight of Fancy: A Book of Hopes and Dreams for Children of All Ages by Debbie Sullivan. How did Christian Faith Publishing, Inc find you to illustrate the book?

I created the illustrations for Flight of Fancy in 2019. The author, Debbie Sullivan, contacted me personally to create the illustrations for her.

March 2021 you illustrated Together in the Spring by Scott Ericksonand Sandra Herrgott. Would you say this is your first non-Christian book?

No ‘The Fairy-Godmother’ and ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet One, Good Nigh’ were the first two non-Christian books I illustrated.

Mimi’s Swing by Amy Fitchettjust came out at the end of April. What type of things do you do to keep finding books to illustrate?

Well as a Christian of course I pray. I do believe God opened all those doors for me. I wanted to illustrate picture books earlier, but also wanted to be a home stay mum for my two boys. Two conflicting desires. His timing is perfect. I got work when I really needed it.

But besides praying I also try to be regularly active on social media, add new products to my Etsy store and create new portfolio pieces.

Do you have an artist rep.? If not would you like find representation?

No, I don’t have an artist rep yet. I just finished my online portfolio and hope to find one when the time is right.

Do you take pictures or do research before you illustrate a book?

Yes definitely. It’s easy for me to get lost in research. That’s why I set my self a timer and write a list of things I need to research to stay focused.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes, I have written a few more stories, which I would like to illustrate. I am hoping to get some feedback on those stories during the course I am currently enrolled and then finish the book dummies for those stories.

Are you still interested in illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-published?

Yes, if I am a good fit for it.

Have you worked with educational publishers?

No, but I’d be interested.

Have you done any illustrations for children’s magazines?

No, that would be fun though.

What do you think helped develop your style?

I am still not sure if I have a recognizable style, but regularly drawing and experimenting helps me to be more confident, learn new things and improve my skills.

Do you have a studio in your house?

Yes, I have one room in the house where I have set up my studio.

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

Yes, I’d love to see my own books in print one day.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I think getting our first book ‘Mellie’ published was a highlight. Especially after my husband asked me if I am one of those people who perfects the illustrations forever, but never finishes it? I was a procrastinating perfectionist at this stage. But really every illustrated book is a celebration for me.

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

Currently I work mainly digitally for picture book illustrations, as it speeds up the process and changes can be made so much easier. However I do sketch a lot on paper before working digitally and create different watercolor textures that I scan in and use in my illustrations. I still have the need to create small watercolor paintings just for fun or commissions and art licensing projects.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, I used to work only in watercolors until I got confident creating illustrations digitally.

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

Yes, I work with a Cintique Wacom Tablet.

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

Yes, I try to either sketch or paint every day, besides Sunday.

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

Yes, definitely.

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

Yes, I would like to find representation and work with a traditional publishers illustrating picture books, as well as working as an author/illustrator.

What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on a picture book with Bethany Douglas and United House Publishing, I am also creating 50 illustrations for a card set for a Licensed Professional Counselor.

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 painting with Windsor & Newton Watercolors on 200-300gsm Canson Cold Pressed watercolor paper.

For digital illustrations I use Photoshop and Kyle Webster Brushes. I couldn’t work without my Cintique now. I’d love to get a bigger size one day.

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

I believe besides challenging yourself to master new skills it’s equally important to illustrate just for the joy of it. Find a subject matter that excites you and explore it. Don’t stop having fun to create and create something small daily. The small things help you master the big challenges.

Sandra, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

To see more of Sandra’s work, you can visit her at:

Website: https://www.sandraherrgott.com/
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/people/aisiu2kc
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandra_herrgott
Behance: https://www.behance.net/sandraherrgott

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Like

  2. Wow! I just love so many of these! My granddaughter’s lovey is a giraffe and I can’t wait to show her your giraffe with the upside down head when we FaceTime next. Thanks for sharing your art with the world.

    Like

  3. These are all perfectly charming illustrations. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite. I would buy a picture book by this illustrator simply for the beautiful illustrations.

    Like

  4. OMG, love, love, love the illustrations!!

    Like

  5. There is so much to love about these illustrations.
    Thanks for the interview.

    Like


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