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Interview with Maisie Paradise Shearing

Maisie Paradise Shearring is an illustrator and storyteller. She was born in Hull in the North of England. Maisie loves drawing, writing stories and making picture books and comics.  In April 2015 Maisie won the International Award for Illustration at Bologna Children's Book Fair. 

Maisie's first published book is an illustrated edition of Oscar Wilde's text, The Happy Prince (El Príncipe Feliz). She has just finished illustrating a picture book text written by Clementine Beauvais and is currently working with Two Hoots on her debut picture book as both author and illustrator.

We got ArtWorks very own illustrator Michael to interview Masie.

When did you become an illustrator and why?

I have always enjoyed art since being very small, and it was my favourite subject at school. After college, I studied an art foundation course where you get to try out all the different types of art. I did some painting, illustration, textiles, photography and illustration was my favourite. I chose to continue studying it because its all about drawing and often about story telling which are the things I like to do the most! Here is a drawing I did when I was very small of my favourite painting at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.

How did you get started and become a well known illustrator?

After my art foundation I studied illustration in Edinburgh and then I studied an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge. I wanted to study an MA to learn more about illustrating and working on a narrative as whilst in Edinburgh I was always making stories, but I wanted to learn a lot more about how to make a really good sequence. I learnt a lot in Cambridge and met lots of great illustrators. I became more well known after winning an illustration prize in Bologna - which is a big children’s book fair for all the different publishers to go to.

What inspiration do you draw on when thinking up your stories?

I go outside and look around and try to find something interesting that might start a story. I people watch! I also do lots of drawing all the time, and often a story begins with drawing characters. Also I think about things that I did when I was a child. Sometimes I think about a feeling like being really jealous or being really cross and then I draw a character who I think suits that feeling. 

What materials are your favourite to work with?

I like using paint, pencil crayon, ink and collage. I use lots of materials for every illustration usually. I like how they all give a different texture or feeling to the work. Here is a photo of my box full of different paper to use for collage and also a picture of my very messy desk!

Do you draw everyday and do you have any advice about how to improve our drawings?

I do draw virtually everyday, even on holiday because I really love it. My advice would be to keep drawing all the time, and to think about what your favourite things are to draw, because often when you love something it will show in your work. You can also try drawing with different things, and on different paper. You don’t always have to just use a pencil on white paper. You could draw drawing with paint on coloured paper. Here are some recent pages of drawings from my sketchbook.  I’d really like to see your drawings too!

How do you decide what picture to put on the cover of your books?

Sometimes the publisher tells me what they would like, and then I draw different miniature options for them to choose from. Sometimes I decide! Which is more fun. Usually I try to put the characters from the story and think about what makes me want to pick a book up. Here are some of the options I thought of for the Happy Prince cover and the cover of another book which is out in France.

What is your next book about?

My next book is about people being mean to someone just because they are different. It is still a secret though! It is out next year in June.

What are your other hobbies?

I like running! I like music lots, I always have music on in my house! I love going to the cinema and watching films. I like reading. I am going camping next week - I like camping and the outdoors.

Do you like crazy golf?!?

I do! I used to play it lots because where I used to go camping there was a really good crazy golf course. There was one bit with a windmill where you had to get it up a hill,  past the windmills blades, through the windmill and out the other side. 

How many cats have you got?

I have one, he is all black and he is called Bunk. He keeps me company whilst I make my books. I would like more pets, but I think he would be too cross, because he likes to be the only pet in the house! Sometimes when I leave my studio and I come back he is sat on my work like this!

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