Phaedra Elson – Illustrator

What is your specialism within book publishing? 

I am an Illustrator, specialising in animal and nature drawings. My style ranges from traditional realistic animal portraits to stylised contemporary drawings of nature scenes. I draw with watercolour and oil based pencils, graphite and ink. I am also designing a couple of colouring-in books for relaxation which I am aiming to self-publish this year.


Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?

I’m an Animal Portrait Artist and Multi Genre Book Illustrator


What led you to go freelance? 

I worked in office jobs for over 25 years and following a number of family bereavements and my husband Mark becoming very ill I realised that life is too precious. I decided that I wanted to work from home to spend more time with Mark and my 2 rescued Lurchers. I have always enjoyed drawing and got good feedback from friends so thought why not let’s have a go at doing what I love.


Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix? 

Independent Authors at the moment, I have worked with one Author, Shelley Wilson, so far whose book Meditations for Children was published in August 2019. I enjoyed the process of working with Shelley, as when I read the manuscript I could see in my mind what to draw. We seemed to be very in tune with each other so the images came naturally. I am very open to working with publishing companies too as this is an avenue I would like to explore.


What’s the best part of doing what you do?

I enjoy creating images, bringing colour and a little bit of joy to the world. My illustrations are happy scenes and have some cheeky characters in them, if I can bring a smile to someone’s face then I have done my job.

Also I have two Lurchers Jack and Tiva who I am obsessed with and they are with me while I work. My husband Mark is currently writing a book and he also writes all of my blogs whilst working on his own illustrations. Being at home and working with my husband and pooches is bliss.


What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey? 

It takes time and effort to build your network, get yourself out there and just be yourself. Let people get to know you and your brand, keep consistent and don’t go out to sell.  I am here doing my thing and helping people where I can.


How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually? 

I have a lot in my TBR list, it is easier to say which authors rather than individual books. I am working my way through James Rollins’ Sigma Force series of which I am very much behind, I have read a lot of his books and he is a brilliant writer. I am slowly working through Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. I am keen on re-reading some of my older books from David Gemmell too.


Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

I do prefer physical books but not hard-backs, as I read before I go to sleep and it is just easier with a paperback. I do read ebooks, I think from an ecological point of view they are brilliant, also saving on space or when travelling. I think I am about 50/50 now. Although I do visit my library often, as they are wonderful spaces for discovering new and old books you wouldn't always know about.


Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing? 

Yes, be true to yourself. As an Artist and Illustrator it can be very easy to start to compare your work to others, I discovered my own style and love it, why would I want to draw like anyone else. Be your own kind of unique and others will see the passion and love you put into your work.


What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book? 

I loved Penguin’s Fairytale series published in the 1960s, the illustrations brought the stories to life, my favourites were Rapunzel,The Elves and the Shoemaker, and The Princess and the Pea. I also loved Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree. 

It is very difficult to split my favourite Adult books but they would include: David Gemmell’s Jon Shannow and Druss the Legend Series, James Rollins’ Sigma Force books, Dan Brown's Inferno, Stephen King's Misery, and I love the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.

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