Designing patterns for decoration, fashion and graphics. My new book and best friend at coffee time.

Medication can motivate design

Reading a new book, Designing patterns for decoration, fashion and graphics by Lotta Kuhlhorns describe one of her designs in the most unusual way. She said it represented amount of exercise training, calories consumed during the day and quantities of blood pressure medicine – how unique! Isn’t it interesting how people see imagery and what motivates them to create a piece? She was almost describing a graph but illustrated as green pink and yellow tartan-style stripes. Obviously her health was on her mind at the time.
But it made me think about I see and think about when I work. I think I see in a far less interesting way to the aforementioned designer.

I enjoy the beauty of subject, line, texture and colour in its simplest of form. I am attracted to more rounded, flowing and scrolling gesture rather than sharp and angular. I appreciate texture and intend to bring more into my own work; an area I think is lacking. I love colour both bright but constrained. I prefer limited pallets and love a greyed pallet that looks bolder than what it is through simple use of complimentary colours. I look for harmony by feeling my way and have an emotional connection to all I create, indulging in whimsical imagery – the cuter, funnier, and cuddlier the better. Then there is the luxurious design that draws me. It speaks class and the world far removed from poverty; the design that can beautiful any surface and look like a king had commissioned it.

I pursue all these things when humouring my creativity. In saying that, exercise training probably should be on my mind more. But point to me for counting calories.

So have you ever thought about what you think and see when you work and the tendencies you have when creating? I wonder what they are.

Cartooning faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download
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How to draw cartoon faces – basic cheat sheet for kids and teachers.

Cartooning faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download

Cartoon faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download

An integration aid asked for a copy of my drawings I did at a literacy Expo. She wanted a cheat sheet. decided to upload it to share. I have created 2 page lesson sheet for anyone wanting to give drawing characters a go.

You begin with basic shapes, create eyes, noses and mouths, then mix and match the face parts to make characters. Jeanette Rowe, did a similar thing by using 2 pieces of paper. One to draw the parts and the next to trace over to make the faces.

Here are the parts I drew, cleaned up a little for a download:
My free cheat sheet for educators and parents (both sheets)

Cartooning faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download

Cartoon faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download

FAQ Children's illustrators and their job. Q& A with Kayleen West
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FAQ Children’s illustrators and their job

More questions about Children’s illustrators …

Students, usually in their final year of an Illustration course contacting me for information to help with my business plan assignments. These questions are frequently asked by students. Some of these questions are extremely relevant when planning a career in illustration. There is so much I could share (and will via my blog over time) but this is a good start.

Here are a few I was asked this week:

How long have you been doing illustration?

I have been an artist for decades but illustrating children’s books since 2010. I turned direction in late 2009. I began setting myself up as a children’s book writer by launching an online portfolio website. I have kept adding to it and updating it ever since. I had a popular blog on blogger but needed a shop front. I do think my web presence is a major reason for the work so far. That and a 200% attitude.

How did you get started?

Illustration or art?

Art: When I was at senior school, my cousin Debbie who came and stayed with us a few months. She drew a lot and I loved drawing. I made the decision that was what I could do well so I would follow that path. I chose it as electives in school and entered college with art as my subject. Disappointed with a what I felt was an unstructured drawing course where I felt I wasn’t learning a thing I left school and entered any job that was creative. I still regret not choosing to do the illustration course instead. My fine art got more attention when my kids went to school and I got the opportunity to study under a master painter. He taught me the important basics of painting. I exhibited as a fine artist, demonstrated and took students into my studio.

Illustrating picture books: To be honest, it was God inspired; I felt confident that God wanted me to create a book for orphan children – so I did. Making picture books had been a desire since I was a teen, but I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t believe I would succeed. That lie held me back for too many years. I began with Adoptive Father and work took off.

Are you mainly freelance?

Yes 100% freelance. I am offered contracts or illustration opportunities and pick what I think is a good fit for both parties.

How do you source your work?

I have fallen into my work so far. My first publisher discovered me when I accidentally emailed with a conference inquiry (always have your portfolio links in your email signature and use it every time!) The other publishers have found me via my website. I have had intentions of approaching agents, art director and publishers but have been working around the clock on my projects and their deadlines. For me my web presence has been vital.

The usual and recommended method of sourcing work would be to approach suitable publishers with a professional looking PDF portfolio and website. Make sure you read their preference for submission and stick to it exactly. Network with publishers at SCBWI events – get to know them genuinely – but don’t sell to them – wait to be asked. Publishers are looking for people they will work with and get along with well, not just good illustrators. Be yourself.

Do you work in other areas apart from children’s books?

I offer my services in other areas such as editorial illustration, product and surface design. I used to do web and print design, logos etc. but it is not my direction now. There is plenty of work in this area though – for anyone interested in this. I want to get a variety of portfolio examples together in these specialised areas over the next 12 months. I will split my website home page and portfolio into my whimsical style and a more corporate editorial work to make it clear. Then I will approach the appropriate people.

I also write faith inspired articles.

Finally, do you have any advice for someone hoping to start out in this area?

Practical application: Draw, draw, DRAW! Draw everything – practice, experiment and have fun with it. Your drawings skills will be what set you apart in some areas.

Motive and expectation: Don’t expect to get rich overnight. Not a lot of illustrators make a living in picture books. There is very little return on a book unless it is a hit seller and sells 100,000 copies, then you might take that beach holiday from the studio. You need to spend just as much time networking on the net and illustrators rely on paid school visits and speaking. So consider if you want the whole package because it is a big one to take on. I love teaching and sharing my enthusiasm so it suits my personality but not necessarily my wallet. I expect to build my income up over time by being versatile and generous. From what I understand, editorial illustration pays the best – very well in some cases- so determine your motive before deciding. I want to get into an agency myself (haven’t tried yet) but I need to have a portfolio of relevant illustration in my style to present. It is on my action list.

Illustration Marketing: Don’t! Take it from me it doesn’t work. Instead, make lots of friends and connect with as many of them on a genuine level (not easy illustrating all day alone in the studio) and make sure you are serving them. Give of yourself often and hopefully people will show their appreciation by supporting you. Be professional in EVERYTHING you do.

Social and Education: Join associate societies e.g. Picture books – SCBWI and ASA and Illustrators Australia. Follow other people’s blogs; the ones who are generous with their information. Comment on their blogs too. When they know they are helping and not talking to the air, they will share more.

Balance: Be organised and plan – revise- and plan some more: You have to be really organised in your office and a visionary to be successful. I am still working on improvements in this area – it’s a juggle! Read all you can about the entrepreneurship and how to organise a business – it helps! But don’t get into the marketing trap. I see some book authors and illustrators shouting “buy this book!, buy this book” non-stop. You don’t want to read anything from them if it is all advertisement.

Courage: Have the courage to be uniquely YOU. There will be a flavor to your work that will seep out if you are genuine and not trying to mimic anyone. Keep growing and hammer your sketchbook – it is your best friend. You never arrive at perfection but when you plan consistently, your direction will be clear. Keep moving forward until you knock off your milestones one at a time.

And the list goes on…

If any other students have questions, feel free to send them through to me and I will add them here for everyone to benefit from. You can contact me here.

Tweet: Business Q & A for #illustration Students from Children's #illustrator

PiBoIlMo has generated several drafts and many more picture book ideas.
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PiBoIdMo Publishing Deal

PiBoIdMo Interview

My PiBoIdMo idea was a moth and my new book, Without Me? became the butterfly.

Novelists have NaNoWriMo, but thanks to author and blogger Tara Tazar, picture book writers have PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month); a 30-day challenge to come up with at least one picture book idea a day. It can be a title, a few sentences about an idea, or more. The idea is to generate ….well … ideas!

Why such enthusiasm for PiBoIdMo you ask? Well, my new book Without Me? (yes there is a question mark in the title), was created from one of my 58 ideas birthed from this challenge. I participated in this challenge in November 2011. Today I am still chewing on the fat pile of ideas created then and the from the now idea collecting habit I have as a result. I am always on the look out for good picture book ideas, and will need the lifetimes of a cat to get through them all. Check out my 2 folders below. And I have almost that much paperwork in ideas too!

PiBoIlMo has generated several drafts and many more picture book ideas.

PiBoIdMo has generated several drafts and many more picture book ideas.

For the month you get to soak up daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals so there is no excuse not to be excited, motivated and actively creative.

Tara had invited me to share my PiBoIdMo success story which I jumped at. I was so please to be able to thank her for the seed she planted within me, and the ideas (and success/s) that are flowing from it. I will post my story HERE now it IS LIVE!

November last year (2012) there were over 750 writers following PiBoIdMo, so who know how many will be there this year. Beginner writers – do it! Established writers and authors – do it! Go now, be brave, have some fun. Put your name down and start generating the picture book ideas that just might land you a publishing contract too. You could have the next “Without Me?” waiting around the corner.

Check out PiBoIdMo HERE and get ready to join in.

Are you going to have a go? Can you see where this challenge could help you? Do you know of any other great challenges to share?

Share the love – Tweet your followers:

“#PiBoIdMo Publishing Deal – it starts with this idea…”

“How to generate good story ideas & land a book deal… #PiBoIdMo.”

“I love #PiBoIdMo. Maybe my participation this year will result in this…”

Auto tweet your own


Getting a children's book published in Australia. Top 3 Handy Resources To Get A Children's Book Published
, , Getting a children’s book published in Australia

3 best tips for getting a children’s book published in Australia!

Getting a children's book published in Australia. Top 3 Handy Resources To Get A Children's Book Published

Getting a children’s book published in Australia. Top 3 Handy Resources To Get A Children’s Book Published in Australia

Often I meet a newish illustrator or writer who is looking for answers to this question: Where can I find the most relevant and important information that will help me get published? This is the same question I had in the beginning.

Every time I am queried, 3 top resources immediately come to mind, these I believe, are not only helpful; but extremely important when navigating  the children’s publication industry.

Here are my favourite top 3:

  1. Join The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This society is an active group world-wide and a way to make friends in the industry, learn, and access a multitude of relevant  information. Go on… go join now!
  2. Sign up for PASS IT ON; a weekly newsletter for children’s literacy news that spotlights a children’s illustrator every week. (Australian based) It can be found on Jackie’s blog: 
  3. Buy an updated version of the annual Writers Market book. This version is best: 2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition (Writer’s Market Online) You can sign up online and access updated contact lists for editors and publishers, but I prefer having a deluxe hard copy version that gives you access to the updated database as well.
    Sign up online:
    Deluxe book version: 2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition (Writer’s Market Online)

If you have any favourite tips on getting a children’s book published in Australia please share and I’ll add them here too.

Pastel illustration of children playing Hide and go seek game. Children's illustration by Kayleen West
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Free Artist or Photographer Model Release Template

Pastel illustration of children playing Hide and go seek game. Children's illustration by Kayleen West

This is a pastel I painted of my children some years ago. Most people are thrilled to model for an artist, but when you have other people model for you; it can be wise to ask for a model release.

In the past (on my blog) I have made various business and tool templates available as an aid for others in the industry. It can be time consuming looking for these things. Today someone requested a download for a Model Release that has since been removed due to website changes. I have made it available again.

Please note: It is your responsibility to check any legal advice and keep updated as I have no legal training.

If you know of any helpful templates I can share here I would love to hear from you.



– Enjoy!