Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 29, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Saoirse lou

Saoirse is a freelance illustrator from the seaside town of Poole in the UK. When she’s not drawing, she loves reading books, walks in the countryside, drinking lots of tea and snuggling down under blankets with her family to watch movies.

Saoirse enjoys using colour and texture to bring warmth and emotion and diversity to book characters, in particular she loves drawing from her experience as a mother to bring sensitivity to her artwork.

Growing up surrounded by old crumbling castles and ancient woods affirmed Saoirse’s passion for folklore and mythology, and her guilty pleasure is sketching fairies, pixies and other fantastical creatures.

Here is Saoirse explaining her process:

Below is a little Mowgli/Jungle book inspired piece.

First step is to block out the basic shapes in colour, checking the levels are correct for the lighting of the piece. I will often convert to monotone throughout the process to check there is enough contrast between objects.

I start to add texture and fill the shapes with more detail to add depth,

I start to add finer line work to add texture to the piece.

I put more detail into the environment such as mushrooms, foliage , I usually like adding a new pop of colour as this stage. I also add in some richer colours where they are needed.

I add the final details as well as light highlights to give focus to some areas.


How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating professionally for picture books for around 3 years now, but I have been drawing all my life!

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

When I was around 17 and in college I illustrated several collectible stamps for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I was also involved in creating artwork for the Discworld Conventions held in the UK.

What made you decide to attend Kingston University to study Illustration?

Kingston University was a great choice as they focus on draftsmanship and really getting the fundamentals right before your style develops. I really enjoyed the focus on life drawing too, I’ve always loved drawing people.

Did you do any freelance art while getting your degree?

Yes, I worked with the folks at the Discworld Convention for a few years illustrating merchandise.

Did you have a favorite classes?

Definitely life drawing, but I also really enjoyed etching.

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

I have always been a bit of a collector of children’s books, they always inspired me and once I found my confidence it seemed like the right direction to go.

Do you attribute Kingston to how you developed your artistic skills?

I think they helped me develop my fundamental skills and draftsmanship. I loved drawing on location around London. However due to lack of confidence in myself, I took quite a long break from art through my 20s and only drew occasionally for pleasure. I picked it all back up in my later 20s and finally found my work style and everything felt more natural as I gained confidence.

Did Kingston help you find illustrating work when you graduated?

They were really great at setting up workshops with various illustration agencies and we were able to gain contacts at our graduation show.

What type of work did you do while working toward becoming a freelance artist?

I worked on my portfolio as much as I could. I sold custom stylised portraits of people and their pets via my Etsy shop and sold prints to keep money coming in while I worked towards improving my portfolio.

Do you exhibit your art? If so, has it helped you get work?

Not at the moment, no!

What type of things do you do or have you done to market yourself and your talent?

Social media has been the most powerful tool in getting my work out there. I set up instagram for my artwork and was able to start getting professional work through there.

Was Yaramaz Peri – Peri Sakalari your first published book?

Yes, this is the Turkish edition of The Naughtiest Pixie in Disguise which was published first in Australia.

Was My Snowy Summer: A story about resilience (Emilia’s Adventures) a two book deal?

No, it started out at one book but working on Emilia’s Adventures has been very fluid and fun! I am working with the fabulous author Onaolapo Dagunduro on a third book very soon. We have been working together for a few years now.

Were these two books self-published by the author?

Yes they are.

What type of work did you do for 3DTotal Publishing?

I created tutorial chapters in various ‘how to’ books aimed at people learning to illustrated and design characters. In one book I illustrated a short story and wrote about my process of colour design, character design and world building.

You list Simon and Schuster (Athenium books) as a client? Have you done freelance work for them?

Yes, I designed a cover jacket for a middle grade novel.

How did you connect with T2 agency and how long have you been represented you?

I had admired their artists for a while and was lucky enough to win a portfolio review with Nicole Tugeau. They later offered me representation and I have been with them for just over a year now.

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

Yes, one day!

Do you still work still work on your portfolio?

All the time, my portfolio is always changing and being updated.

Has your style changed over the years?

Absolutely. My style has changed and adapted over the years to suit a fast working pace, and I feel myself changing and improving all the time as I complete different projects.

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


Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

No, not yet, that sounds like fun though!

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines?

Yes, I have illustrated several stories for Storytime magazine.

Do you sell your artwork online?

Yes, I have an Etsy shop which I open between projects.

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

Yes, if I like a manuscript and they are experienced with self publishing I would definitely consider it.

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

I am currently working on several books, and though I can’t say much about them yet, they are definitely what I am most proud of so far.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love using watercolour and gouache, but don’t get much time for traditional mediums these days. My everyday go to is my iPad and pencil.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, I had never done any digital art until around 3 years ago. Before that I had only used gouache and watercolour to paint.

What type of Graphic Drawing Tablet do you use when illustrating?

iPad, though I would love to try a Wacom.

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

I am always drawing!

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

Yes, I keep Pinterest boards for each project with palette ideas, objects and photographs to help me develop my imagery. I also have loads of books at home that I will scour through for inspiration.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Definitely. I don’t think I would be where I am today without having social media. Companies are often looking through instagram, twitter and places like Behance for great illustrators.

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

I would love to write and illustrate a book of my own.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on several picture books.

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 on paper with gouache and coloured pencils, scanning and then finishing off digitally. It gives digital work a beautiful texture and I only wish I had more time to do things like that.

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

Draw as much as you can, research what’s currently being published to inform your portfolio pieces and get on social media to take part in challenges and competitions. You never know where it will take you!

Saoirse, 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.

You can visit Saoirse using the following links:





Talk tomorrow,



  1. wonderful, magical illustrations!


  2. Very fun! Thanks for sharing your wonderful illustrations!


  3. Wonderful use of color. Thanks for the post.


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