Fairy Tales Imagery presents Artist Spotlight: The wonderfully talented author and creative artist Patrick S. Brooks.
Greetings fellow creatives! I must first apologize to Patrick, as I have held on to this interview way too long. I am finally catching up on some of my artist interviews and regret getting so behind on my blog. Hence, I am excited to present my interview with Patrick Brooks, an exceptionally skilled artist and author extraordinaire, who is graciously allowing me to still post his interview no matter the lateness.
Patrick’s luminous and enchanting illustrations never fail to completely transport his audience into a fantasy world while charming and intriguing the imagination with such sublime color, light, and charm. Take a glimpse through his fantastic gallery as each art piece easily engages and presents itself with it’s own little tale, wrapping around the details, twinkling with whimsical fable, and flowing with the beauty and delicacy of each piece.
Patrick is a writer and illustrator from Yorkshire, England. Just a hop, skip and a jump across the “pond” from those of us here in the states. In 2016 he released a young adult fantasy novel ‘Deathcat Sally’ and he is represented as a children’s illustrator by Advocate Art. Patrick mostly creates illustrations digitally in Photoshop with custom pastel, paint and canvas brushes. Please come step into his world of delightful artistry and captivating stories!
Introducing children’s fantasy author and artist Patrick S. Brooks
How did you develop your art style and where you hope to see this style evolve as you continue to work and grow as an artist?
I found that I particularly enjoyed working with soft pastels in school. My grandfather Brooks was a painter and used oil pastels so I liked looking at his work. I began using Photoshop at college when I was studying for my art diploma and enjoyed experimenting with it. I continued to teach myself Photoshop through university when I studied Fine Art and built my skills using it. When I started using a graphics tablet and explored how to create custom brushes, I developed my style to what it is currently. Every day I’m always learning how to improve my work and hope to become well established children’s illustrator in the industry.
Do you feel that you create your best pieces when you set scheduled time to sit down to draw or does your favorite work come to you when created in the moment?
I don’t always go in with a plan – sometimes I just see what happens when I start putting colours and characters in a scene. I’ve found taking part in the Twitter Colour Collective challenge incredibly helpful as often the colour will spark an idea of an animal or sky colour and the illustration will develop from there. It can be a bit random sometimes how things end up and there’re no set rules – my thinking process can jump from one thing to another. It can be quite difficult to choose favourite pieces, but it is always interesting to see what people respond to the best.
Did you have a point in your art career or personal life that had a significant defining and affecting moment on your work and style?
I’d say a defining moment was when I met Neil Gaiman at a ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ picture book signing in 2003, as this inspired me to focus on writing and illustrating children’s books. I love the book and Dave McKean’s fantastic mixed media/digital artwork. I was at university at the time and focused my university work on creating children’s books.
The neck/shoulder/arm nerve injury I had in 2010 definitely affected me as for a long time I could no longer illustrate properly. This actually made me focus on writing ‘Deathcat Sally’.
When the injury healed enough for me to be able to illustrate again, I’d say using a graphics tablet instead of a mouse to create illustrations was another defining moment. Also, the creation of my own custom pastel, paint and canvas brushes has allowed me to create the textured feel of using soft pastels.
What is your favorite part of your creative and art process? What do you draw your inspiration from in the moment of creating?
I think sometimes I enjoy the initial process of having a colour and going through ideas of what scene to create. I always need music when I’m illustrating and usually have ambient/chillout/post rock instrumental music on. For my children’s illustrations I get a lot of inspiration from wildlife and the natural world. I always enjoy looking at and getting inspiration from my favourite illustrators. My writing process is a little different and background music can depend on what I’m writing – my second novel ‘Cyborg Critters’ is a young adult sci-fi and I usually have powerful movie soundtracks like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘Transformers’ playing as there are several action scenes and it has a blockbuster feel to it.
How do you divide your time between your creative art and working on social media ?
It can be a bit of a juggling act sometimes, between illustrating, writing, marketing and social media, but I aim to be illustrating every day. At the moment I’m mostly focused on building my portfolio further and getting illustration work done through my agent. Recently a lot of time was spent getting marketing packs together for Deathcat Sally (bookmarks, badges, postcards, toy cats etc) and I’ve also been posting a lot of these with copies around. I’m still trying to promote the book and get others to read and review it, and also am aiming to line up signings at local bookstores. I do enjoy social media – I have more experience on Twitter than Facebook and like keeping up to date with Colour Collective and connecting with other illustrators, writers, agents and publishers. I try my best to support other illustrators and Like/RT their work and reply to comments and enjoy the community on Twitter.
Do you try to stay fairly true to an initial idea / sketch / art vision? Or do you like for your art to evolve as you go along the process, sometimes resulting in a finished piece that is dramatically different from what you first envisioned?
I rarely start with sketches and just build up images gradually in layers in Photoshop. Ideas and colour tones develop as I progress and it is interesting to see what happens on the way to an illustration being finished. Unless it’s something really specific, for my portfolio work I don’t often go in with a strict plan on what the scene needs to look like and like just exploring the landscape and characters.
What inspires you in other artists work? Similar to your own style or very different?
I’m inspired by all kinds of illustration really. I love the pastel work of Mary Grandpre and Brett Helquist, but also really like other work too. I’ve found a lot of amazing illustrators through Twitter who work in different styles and I’m always impressed to see what other artists and illustrators create.
When have you been the most satisfied with your work and what art piece in your gallery feels connected the most to “you?”
I was most satisfied with my portfolio getting me represented by Advocate Art and it’s wonderful to know that they like my work.
There’re probably quite a few illustrations in my portfolio that I feel most connected to. I’d say The Origin of Starfish is one on my favourite as it was the first time I’d used my custom pastel, paint and canvas brushes and I got the soft pastel look I was trying to achieve. I have a variation of scenes in my portfolio, some are focused on the mystical and spiritual, like Racoon and the Moon and Spirits of the Forest, while others are random and whimsical such as Accordion Pirate Cat and Parachuting Sheep.
Tell us about your writing, art and process for creating “Deathcat Sally.” How did you develop the concept, story and cover art for this novel?
The idea for the book came after a particularly lucid dream after I’d been volunteering at the local RSPCA looking after a group of cats. I was suffering from the nerve injury at the time, so had a lot of severe pain in my neck, shoulder and arm. These combined with the heavy painkillers I was taking likely led to the strange dream I had of a teacher who accidentally knocked over a cat, then found his talking spirit was fused to her shoulder. I spent the next five years developing the book and illustrating the interior illustrations and cover art, which was created in Photoshop.
What is “success” to you? Has this evolved and been redefined to you over the course of your art career?
I think the definition of being a success changes over time. When I was at school, college and university it was about grades and getting recognition from tutors and peers.
For a long time I’ve aimed to be a published author and illustrator and want to gain exposure in the book industry. For me getting represented by Advocate Art is a huge step forward in my career and I endeavour to build my portfolio further and work on several projects in future. I would love to see my illustration and written work as animated or live action films.
What kind of encouragement do you give to someone who is just starting out as a children’s illustrator and feeling overwhelmed as a little fish in a big ocean of illustrators?
I would say to keep illustrating every day and explore what media you enjoy working in. Look around at other artists and illustrators and be inspired by their work. Find your style and the best way of working for you. If you keep persevering and don’t give up, even when you get ignored or told you’re no good, you’ll get there.
I know you for your talented children’s illustration but please tell us a little about your writing background and aspirations.
From a young age I enjoyed writing stories and Art and English were my strongest subjects throughout my education. Getting Deathcat Sally into print has taken some time and I am working on other novels. I’ll be sending Cyborg Critters to agents and publishers and aim to get a mainstream release. I need to secure representation by a literary agent for my future books. Cyborg Critters is a standalone book, but has the potential for a trilogy. It has quite a large budget movie feel to it and I’d love to see it on the big screen.
I LOVE your use of gorgeous color, light and whimsical style of your recent illustrations for Twitters fun Color Collective group…Can you tell us how these types of supportive and collaborative groups motivate your creatively and the importance of participating in an artist community?
Thanks! Most of the reason I enjoy Twitter is due to the art and illustration groups and challenges. I started with Daily Doodle, but am focused mainly on Colour Collective and am now also going to be contributing more to Sketch Dailies. I think it’s really important for illustrators to join in to these kinds of groups as it’s a great challenge and it allows you to connect with other illustrators and people. It’s a good way to see what people respond to positively and to get your work circulating around social media. It helps you grow and develop as an illustrator and can allow agents and publishers to become familiar with your work.
Where do you show your work and where can fans view your portfolio?
Illustrator agent’s site: www.advocate-art.com
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @P_S_Brooks
You can buy Deathcat Sally here:
Visit my Etsy store here:
Thank you so much Patrick for sharing with us your experience. It is artists such as yourself that continually inspire and encourage others in our profession!