Where were you born?
Woodside, SA. Mine was a small country town childhood.Where do you live now?
Melbourne (Peoples Republic of Brunswick)
Where did you go to school?
Woodside PS, Oakbank Area School. Then onto Birdwood to fail matriculation. After that the excellent South Australian School of Art.Did you have a nickname?
SmithyWhat were you like in school?
Shy, scared, loved the library and the oval. In primary loved spelling. In secondary loved reading. Left school innumerate but happy. And with the habit of reading ingrained.What was your favourite book growing up?
The book that changed my life at 13 years was William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
. Who is your favourite children’s author?
As a kid probably Enid Blyton (Noddy) and Richmal Crompton (Just William series). Lots of Readers Digests.
What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Linguini, Naples yellow, Doctor Strangelove
(Stanley Kubrick)Who inspired you to illustrate?
The example of my sister Maire. Then my lecturer at art school, George Tetlow, who made sense of life drawing for me. After that, a whole lot of European illustrators, Etienne Delessert, Heinz Edelmann, Freidrich Karl Waechtar and others — that I knew through art magazines and books. How did you get started?
An art school assignment led to an invitation from a publisher to have a go at doing some roughs. This project was eventually published as Black Dog (written by Christobel Mattingly).
How old were you?
I was only nineteen.
Why did you want to be an illustrator?
Self expression as a humourist.
How do you think up ideas?
Be still, don’t hurry, get into the story. Once I’ve settled on an approach the ideas tend to come faster. If I’m blocked I’ll grab an art book (contemporary illustration) and flip through that to start the flow. Do you have a special place where you illustrate?
My desk, my light, my music.What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
It may be being able to work alone. Or it may be being part of a generous community of colleagues and friends in the book trade. Or it may be the quiet satisfaction of the aesthetic task. (Should that line be there, or there?)Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as an illustrator?
As a twenty-something illustrator was asked to speak at a conference in Canberra. I looked at the audience and my brain shorted. All I could see think and feel was me, but from the audiences perspective. So, I was viewing my own anxiety. It didn’t get better, I mumbled an apology and walked away. What do you do when you are not illustrating?
Reading, gardening, making stuff in the shed, sewing, cycling, driving. Trying to fix iTunes. A bit of grandparenting. Thinking my thoughts.What would you have chosen to be if you were not an illustrator?
Not at all sure. I think I landed the only job that suits, therefore I hang onto it grimly. A colleague has a day job that involves 4-wheel driving around the Snowy Mountains (weed control). That sounds like a great other job (apart from the herbicide).
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
In the recent past (five years) I would most like to talk to Ken Henry for guidance on how to think about capitalism. Further back in the past (thirty years) I’d like to speak with my father, who died when I was comparatively young.
An historical figure I’d like to chat to would be Margaret Thatcher on the subject of climate change. Or George Woodroffe Goyder (Goyders Line). Len Beadell would be fascinating as well. (Not quite politically correct these days).
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I dislike social media. I’m wary of being spontaneous and then proving silly with hindsight. Website/blog details