NNFN: On illustrating non-fiction – a guest post by Anna Wright

26917-books-origjpgThe last few years have seen an increasing trend to move away from using photos to illustrate non-fiction for children and young people, using instead the beauty of the hand-drawn and painted to bring an extra dimension to exploring the world.

In Magnificent Creatures: Animals on the Move, Anna Wright creates a visually stunning and gently informative introduction to some of her favourite animals around the world. With illustrations rendered in a mix of pen, ink, watercolour and fabric collage alongside short fact-filled texts, Anna’s book is a fabulous example of stunningly beautiful non-fiction. In today’s guest post Anna shares a little about her work and inspiration.

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“Being brought up in the Scottish countryside I have always had a passion for animal behaviour and the great outdoors. I’ve also always been inspired by interiors and so my work combines these elements; I use pen and ink, acrylic, watercolour and fabric collage with a touch of humour to create characterful images of animals. Mixing and matching fabrics on the page is similar to dressing a room, different patterns and colour can clash or match and they bring out different emotions and temperaments in the animals.

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I have built up a collection of fabrics over the years from old fabric sales and my aunt who is an interior decorator. I keep all the snippets in a huge wicker basket in my studio in London and whenever I start a piece I delve into the basket and pick out whatever catches my eye or mood. I then lay them out on the paper to see what works, if the compliment each other and if they suit the animal I am going to draw. For the zebras I decided to keep to a black and white theme but wanted to be playful with the pattern… as though they were galloping so fast their stripes became a blur of different patterns. For the jellyfish I wanted the pattern of the fabric to be delicate and floral, like a jellyfish itself.

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I intended Magnificent Creatures to be an expression of my love and interest for animals all over the world and their fascinating behaviour, both visually and factually. As I was researching for the book I was so amazed by some of the facts that I didn’t believe them myself, I wanted to share this wonder in the imagery and to make the creatures as magical as the things they do. The aim is to capture the children’s imagination with the facts whilst remaining playful with the imagery.

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I work from my beautiful little studio in Kennington, London where I share a space with an opera set designer and an industrial designer. Despite them not being my target audience, it’s wonderful to have their creative input and opinion on things; I like collaborating with others.

I escape to the countryside for inspiration when I can and enjoy visiting fascinating interiors and gardens of houses across the world from Norway to India.”

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An extract from Magnificent Creatures by Anna Wright

An extract from Magnificent Creatures by Anna Wright

Our thanks go to Anna Wright and Faber & Faber for today’s post. You can find out more about Anna’s work on her website https://annawright.co.uk/ or by following her on Twitter @acwillustration.

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