Sarah-Leigh Wills - Illustrator
Many picture books inspired me to illustrate, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, there are so many. But my main kick into realising that this is what I wanted to do as a career was when I saw Maurice Sendak; ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ I continually borrowed it from the library until the lady asked me to let someone else have it for a while.
Its illustrations captured me from the moment I opened it! I didn’t have a clue what the story was about nor did I care to read it! It was the excitement of being able to create a story through pure visualisation & imagination!
You see, I have never been a fond reader… I can’t sit and read a book, well I can read of course but I was just one of those children that chose not to read. I find it a tedious struggle… terrible to say, but it’s true. I had to have pictures to take me to that place of imagination! I would look at the pictures and make up my own story as I was going along. But that’s not all that has inspired me to become a children’s book illustrator. I have a huge passion for animals and the outdoors, I love capturing the characteristics of an animal in an illustration, there’s something quite challenging about it! That’s why when Craig first approached me with Jacqueline the Black Alpaca, I knew it was meant to be!
The most important thing about a picture book is being able to capture that little mind, it’s a wonderful thing! As an illustrator of picture books there’s nothing better than seeing the reaction of the kids! Watching their little faces, and the impressions your characters make on them. It’s very rewarding for both author and illustrator.