Ohh Deer November Artist of the Month - Meet Angie Rozelaar
Our November Artist of the Month is the talented Angie Rozelaar. Angie is an illustrator, artist, author and designer based near St-Lô in Normandy, France. She brings a childlike sense of playfulness and a joyful and anarchic spirit to her work. We spoke with Angie to discuss her creative process and what inspires her work!
Let’s start with a bit about you - how did you get started in the world of illustration?
I always loved drawing as a child and was at my happiest with a set of coloured pencils or felt-tip pens and a stack of paper. I was that kid who always entered Blue Peter art competitions, and even came runner-up once or twice (I still have my Blue Peter badge somewhere…). After school, I went on to art college in London, but after I left I found it hard to get work as an illustrator. Instead, I worked as a lighting technician in West-End theatres and then did various other jobs, such as working as a layout artist and gallery assistant.
During that time, I almost abandoned my dream of being an illustrator. Then in 2013, I started posting new illustrations at least once a week on my blog which led to me landing some part-time work creating art for greeting cards. I loved seeing my work on cards, but my career really got going once I was taken on by a literary agent who found me lots of fun opportunities illustrating children’s picture books for publishers in the UK and US. I still love designing greeting cards, and I’m very lucky I still get to do that alongside my children's publishing work.
Could you talk us through the process of creating one of your artworks and the tools you use (both digital and physical)? Which is your favourite medium (crayons, watercolour,...)?
That’s a good question! I use both physical/traditional materials and Photoshop to make my art. I’d say it’s about 50:50. Everything starts with a pencil sketch on paper. I will then paint various elements with gouache, watercolour or ink and scan it all in. Then I open up Photoshop and arrange everything in layers. I can then move things around, change the colours, add new elements and generally fiddle around endlessly until I am happy.
Cats take centre stage in a lot of your work. What drew you to this particular style and subjects?
I have always loved animals and they are without a doubt my favourite subject all round. We have adopted many cats over the years and we’re sharing our house with six at the moment. A few years back I randomly chose the theme of cats for the hundred days drawing challenge on Instagram. I created a cat illustration every day for a hundred days and I found I really enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new creative ways to approach the same subject. Since then I just kind of carried on!
Could you tell us about Planet Cat?
Planet Cat is the home for all of my cat illustrations. I’ve collected quite a lot over the years and I’m lucky to be able to license many of them out to decorate gifts, apparel and greeting cards. It is now a standalone art brand with licensed products selling around the globe.
We hear you live in a farmhouse in France with a growing family of rescue animals. How many animals do you currently have?
Currently, we have six cats and a very friendly donkey named Quixote.
How did you get into the world of writing and illustrating children’s books?
It was quite an obvious choice for me because I'm most at home drawing cute things! I was lucky to find a wonderful literary agent, Eunice McMullen, who has helped me find jobs illustrating picture books. From there it was a natural progression to begin writing the texts myself and I'm very lucky that two of these have so far been published, with more in the pipeline!
When you create a book what usually comes first - the illustrations or the story?
For me, it starts with the character. Once down on paper, it becomes a lot easier for me to imagine what he or she might get up to in a story. I usually imagine a few scenarios visually first and then start on the text once I have sketched out the beginning, middle and end.
What has been your favourite project to work on?
That's a difficult question! I've loved all the picture books I've worked on and I've worked with some lovely designers, art directors and editors. It's quite a collaborative process that takes about six months so it feels like a real team effort, which is very rewarding. I also really enjoy working on the illustrations for Planet Cat because I get to indulge my love of silly cat puns. A few years back, I created a range of board books based entirely on cat puns, called Artsy Cats, Bookish Cats and Music Cats. They were a lot of fun to work on.