Illustrator Spotlight: Elspeth Alix Batt

© Elspeth Alix Batt

 Jan. 1, 2021

It is the first of the month so we are excited to feature illustrator Elspeth Alix Batt and her website banner design for Kidlit411. She won first place in our recent banner contest.


Tell us about yourself & how you came to illustrate for children. 

 

I was the ‘good drawer’ in class. I loved books as a child, but for some reason, it never occurred to me that I could illustrate, let alone write them, when I grew up. 

 

I thought it would be difficult to make a living as an artist, so, after school I started studying architecture at university. Soon I realised that actually, I would not enjoy being an architect, did a Clothing & Textile course and worked as a fashion designer for a while before finding out that wasn’t what I wanted to do either. 

 

Next, I did a Graphic Design degree and during that, became engrossed by illustration in all its forms. Since then, I have worked mainly in the educational publishing sector, here in New Zealand, doing things like illustrating the four age levels of School Journals that are published by the Ministry of Education and provided free to schools. The assignments are a combination of factual and fiction stories so there is good scope for experimenting with styles, mediums, digital software etc. depending on the age group and type of story. 

 

 

© Elspeth Alix Batt

 

I have also illustrated greeting cards, stamps, flags, board games, logos, school banners and actual paintings to hang on the wall. And while I have illustrated several picture books during my career, I am now inspired to write as well as illustrate them. 

 

© Elspeth Alix Batt



© Elspeth Alix Batt

 


Last year, amidst all the stress of the Covid-19 virus lockdowns and my mother’s final illness, the first picture book that I have both written and illustrated, I Love Bugs, was at last published in September. The road to publication was very long, very winding and full of deep potholes, so I can’t quite believe that it’s happened at last. There is nothing like the feeling of having an actual book that you wrote and illustrated in your hands.

 



 

 

© Elspeth Alix Batt

© Elspeth Alix Batt


Congrats on winning our recent Kidlit411 banner contest! Tell us about how you approached the assignment and what inspired you.

 


Thank you. Winning was a real high point during a stressful year. 

 

Facebook cover image © Elspeth Alix Batt


I’m not sure where the ballooning idea came from, it just popped into my head and seemed to be a good way to convey the fun and adventure of creating children’s books as well as reading them, for both children and adults. Books are a great way for kids to find out about the world and other people, and I hope that this theme of exploration was also evident in my design. 

 

I included different ethnicities, ages etc. and various pets, and some funny bits because illogical things are okay in children’s books. The bear with the balloons is my tribute to one of my favourite characters, Winnie-the-Pooh. I had to have some birds in there for Kidlit411, and these blue ones are the ‘bluebirds of happiness’ of course.

 


You have a lively and distinct style. Tell us about your illustration process. 

 

 

I have several different styles of illustration that you can see if you visit my website, so I will talk about how I created the Kidlit411 banner. Once I decided on the ballooning idea, I had a look online at ballooning illustrations through the ages because I wanted the balloons to be decorative and colourful. I decided to use a flat vector style but with painterly though subtle textures.

 

I was conscious that the picture had to adapt to be a Facebook banner as well and I knew that I would also like to put it on my website which meant another set of dimensions. So, I measured them out on paper and drew a pencil rough that would fit reasonably in all the rectangles.

 



 

 

The pencil rough was enough to guide me when I was creating the vector paths in Photoshop, for the various shapes in the drawing, but some things changed as I went along.  I coloured them and then put shading and texture layers on top. Some details were just drawn in.

 

If you’re organised and put the different elements in separate folders and layers in Photoshop, you can edit almost everything in terms of colour, shade, texture etc.  I particularly enjoy fine-tuning the colours. You can also move things around very easily afterwards if you need to which I did.

 

 

What projects are you working on now?

 

 

I am working on some concepts for another picture book featuring insects, but written by someone else. I am also developing a picture book story and illustrations about a mouse who gets her long-held wish granted on her birthday. 

 

 

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

 

 

My nickname is Elph because when I was four I had a little friend who just could not pronounce Elspeth and ended up calling me Elphy, which got shortened to Elph when it was adopted by my family. This is like an abbreviation of my name, which is actually a Scottish form of Elizabeth.

 

 

Where can people find you online?

 

 

My website is at  

https://www.elphbatt.com

 

My Instagram page where I post pictures and patterns and photos is at      

https://www.instagram.com/elph_batt/

 

If anyone is interested in purchasing my picture book ‘I Love Bugs’, it has only been published in New Zealand so far, but you can buy it from the publisher’s website. However, you will have to pay postage. It’s had some nice reviews which you can read on the same website. To intrigue you more I’ll just say that it’s got a very surprising and unexpected ending.

https://www.onetree-house.com/product-page/i-love-bugs

 

 

 

Elspeth Alix Batt is an illustrator, now author, designer and artist, working out of her home studio in Auckland, New Zealand. She’s been illustrating for over thirty years mainly in educational publishing but is now concentrating on writing and illustrating picture books. She has several illustration styles depending on subject matter and inspiration, and ranging from those that use actual paint, ink and paper, to ones produced on the computer and iPad, or a combination. She loves to read, work in her organic garden, walk in the New Zealand bush or on the beach, take photographs, paint pictures, create digital patterns for fabric, knit, crochet and sew, and look after her three little feline tyrants.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Angie. Happy New Year to you too!
      - Elspeth

      Delete
  2. What wonderful illustrations! The banner is terrific.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love 💘 love love you style of illustration! Stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's very pleasing to hear, kel.bel! Thanks and all the best for 2021!
      - Elspeth

      Delete

Post a Comment