Studio Feature: Eliza Wheeler
“Authors often talk about how they spent all their time reading as kids, but this was not the case for me,” illustrator/writer Eliza Wheeler admits. “I adored picture books, and as I got older illustrations began disappearing from the pages.” Eliza preferred seeing stories told visually, so she turned to animated films. “Most of the classic stories that I loved I watched as films and animations, and then spent all my time redrawing their characters.”
Eliza ended up with a graphic design degree, thinking that it would offer her a better chance to find a job. But it wasn’t ideal. “I struggled with design work, always preferring pencil and paper to the computer,” she says. Eventually, she joined a community of writers and artists who helped inspire her to become an illustrator. “It really just helps to have people you can completely geek out with about what you love,” she says.
To help you get inspired, Eliza recommends that you look through books or search the Internet to find three different illustrators you like. Then observe the way each artist draws her or his characters before trying to redraw them yourself. (But don’t trace, she says.) These will be your “studies.” Finally, Eliza says to make up a new character combining the style of your three illustrators. “Be inspired by different artists,” she says, “and let those observations teach you new ways of drawing.”
To find out more about finding inspiration and character development, see Eliza’s feature on The Studio.