A conversation with…Diane Ewen
With the Conversations Series, we create a positive image for Black girls to refer to, by having conversations with different business owners, entrepreneurs and creators. Here, we are catching up with Diane Ewen, an award-winning Illustrator. Diane's illustrations are featured in Hey You! by Dapo Adeola. A beautiful picture book brought to life by 18 talented Black illustrators.
Our featured artist for Issue 4 The Music Edition is Dapo Adeola. You can read all about his creative journey. Buy our latest issue here
Never Teach a Stegosaurus to Do Sums is your recent project. How closely did you work with Rashmi Sirdeshpande? And what was the experience like?
I would say that a great friendship has grown up between me and Rashmi since beginning to work with her on her wonderful books. We didn’t initially work closely on the books as Clare Doughty, the designer at Puffin, was the contact who mainly fed back to me, but now and then, I would get little bits of feedback from Rashmi about several things. I remember one spread where I put pepperoni on a pizza and Rashmi asked if I could change it to tomato, which was really fantastic. It’s great when the author feeds back. They also need to like what they are seeing in the illustrations.
How do you find inspiration for your creative projects?
I do a fair bit of research with each project and this along with just allowing myself time to think of lots of scenarios for the text images, triggers off most of my ideas.
What mediums do you create your work in?
I use a mixture of mediums. They include watercolours, digital media, and traditional media.
Describe your signature art style in 3 words.
Colourful, patterned, fun.
Can you name three illustrators who have inspired you?
It’s unfair to ask for just 3 because I love so many illustrators' work. The famous Quentin Blake I loved the way he uses ink and dip pens to create his quirky illustrations. He captures movement of characters in such a carefree way.
Lauren Child’s use of patterns in her illustrations inspired me. I used to get her books out of the library to look at the illustrations regularly before an agent had taken me on and started my illustration journey. But I am now inspired by the glut of illustrators out there. I can’t name everyone whose work inspires me, but the third one to mention I think is Jim Field. I love his ability to add drama by using great angles and perspective in his compositions.
Describe your creative space. And why is it special to you?
My creative space is too small. It’s a desk with a computer, diary, Lightbox, scanner/printer, pens, pencils, paints, and a trusted radio to keep me company when I'm working. I would love a real studio where I have more space for all those sketches and bits of drawings that just end up in boxes. I do have one benefit, which is a lovely view of the garden.
Hey You! by Dapo Adeola | Penguin | Available from bookshop.org
Quick fire round
What are you currently reading?
The Obsession written by Nora Roberts. It’s a thriller
What’s your hidden talent?
Movie or Book?
About the Illustrator
Diane Ewen is British illustrator, born in Walsall, in the West Midlands. She graduated from University of Wolverhampton with a B.A. Honours Degree in illustration. Her debut into publishing was the illustration of the Pretty Poodle Parlour published by Orion and written by Angela MCallister.