• #FlorisDesign Illustrator Interview with Maria Bogade

    by  • 16 September 2015 • Children's Books, Design and Illustration, Floris Design • 0 Comments

    llustrator bannerIllustrator of…

    Background for Book Banner

    Today #FlorisDesign is talking to Maria Bogade, who illustrated Wee Granny’s Magic Bag and Wee Granny and the Ceilidh. Part of our Picture Kelpies, the Wee Granny series is about a practical gran with a magic, bottomless bag that has everything she could ever need in a pinch! Both Wee Granny books were written by the wonderful Elizabeth McKay.


    Hi Maria, we’re keen to jump right in and hear about you. Could you tell us about your studies and training?

    I studied in Stuttgart at the University of Media. Initially, I didn’t train to become an illustrator. I aimed for a career in animation and I did work on some really nice TV programmes for children. In 2011, I finally took the step to become an illustrator.


    That’s really interesting to hear, to go from moving pictures to picturebooks! We’d love to hear about your decision to become a children’s book illustrator.

    Well, I always loved to draw but I felt I was never quite good enough. Working in 3D animation taught me many things and made me a little more confident. But the final step to really starting to follow my dream is owed to my spouse, who encouraged me to pursue my dream and make it come true. I drew for many, many hours and built a portfolio from the ground up and here I am, illustrating fantastic stories such as Wee Granny and I’m enjoying every bit of it!


    We’re glad you decided to make the transition, Wee Granny is a fantastic series with vivid landscapes. Where did you look for inspiration for Wee Granny ? Any holiday photos from trips to Scotland, perhaps?

    Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to Scotland yet. It’s still on my wish list of places to visit but I lived in England for a short time when I was young and I still vividly remember the green and lush landscapes, which can be similar to Scotland. Of course, I also did a lot of online research to make sure I captured the landscape and buildings as best as possible. The internet is a great resource for illustrators to travel to places you might not be able to visit when a commission comes your way and you need to get a feel, and understanding, of a specific environment.


    A lot of our illustrators agree with that sentiment too! Hopefully, one day you’ll be able to match any pictures you found on the web with their real-life counterparts. In Wee Granny, she seems to be constantly on the go with her travels and that usually means she needs all sorts of items to save the day, too! Which item of Wee Granny’s magic bag did you find most ridiculous and enjoyable to draw?

    I am in love with the hot air balloon. When I got the manuscript and read it I was so delighted to find a hot air balloon. My imagination was spinning with ideas of what a hot air balloon from Wee Granny’s bag would look like, as I was certain it couldn’t be a very normal and plain one but one with a kind of “personality”.

    Hot Air Balloon spreadDefinitely a lot of personality in Granny’s quilt-like balloon!

    The one item my kids love the most, and giggle about the most, is the motorbike. I think this would also be my funniest and most ridiculous pick too.

    MotorcycleGranny has a spot of bother trying to fit the bike back inside though!

    One of our favourite parts is when she pulls out her computer by the side of the road! Definitely handy to have an office in your magic bag. Could you tell us about your workspace and why you like to work there? I bet it’s a lot nicer than the pavement, like Wee Granny!

    My studio is in our winter-garden, which allows a lot of light. It’s really nice for traditional paintings. It gets quite messy at times though. I also have a Mac and Cintiq where I do my mixed media illustrations and prepare files for the printers. When I look out of my studio I can look into our garden and watch our rabbits hop around. I love nature and being surrounded by trees and flowers is just wonderful.

    MariaBogade-Studio2You can spot Maria’s tablet in the corner!

    That sounds absolutely lovely. You can see Maria’s Cintiq in the corner of the photo. It sounds like you incorporate a lot of different methods and techniques in your illustrations. Can you  share with us some of  the processes you go through to make your artwork – do you work using traditional methods or digital methods or both?

    I work using traditional as well as digital mediums. Wee Granny was created traditionally in watercolour and coloured pencil. I started with sketching each page. I mostly do digital sketches these days as it saves paper and also quite a lot of time. When the sketches are done, I print them out, transfer them on to watercolour paper with the aid of my light table and start painting away. Layer by layer the painting is created. This can take up to three days depending on the complexity of the scene I have to illustrate.

    When I work digitally I use textures, which I paint beforehand and scan in and mix in Photoshop. Sometimes I even work completely digitally using Illustrator. There are so many ways to create an illustration and each project asks for a different approach. I like the variety of techniques and also exploring new ways to create art.


    Other than energetic Scottish grandmothers, what sorts of things do you most enjoy drawing?

    This is a hard question to answer. I think I love to draw almost anything. Some things are easier to draw for me than others, of course, but I would never say no to a scene just because it is hard. I’d rather tackle it and learn from it. Maybe the best answer would be that I enjoy bringing wonderful stories to life. It’s so exciting, and you get to meet the characters that an author has conjured up in a story.


    Do you have any tricks in your bag for when you get stuck on a brief?

    If I ever get stuck on a brief I simply leave the project be for a bit. Sometimes you just need a little time to let things sink in and let ideas take shape.


    Good idea, it’s good to let your mind relax about ideas for a bit. Do you have any illustrators or designers that you consider to be your favourites?

    Oh, there are so many good artists out there and I feel naming only a few wouldn’t do the rest of them justice. I would have to add too many names to that list but I love artists with a unique voice that do their very own thing in a way that still appeals to kids. I think this will have to do as an answer.


    Thank you for your time! This has been a lovely chance to learn more about your work and inspirations as an illustrator. We hope those reading have learned some interesting tips that help with your own illustrations!

    McKayWee GrannyandtheCeilidh

    McKayWeeGrannyNEMaria Bogade studied Audiovisual Media at the University of Stuttgart before starting work as a 3D animation artist. She worked mainly for Studio Soi on award-winning projects like The Gruffalo. Her passion for creating her own unique images, characters and environments led her towards illustration. She lives with her partner and two children in Germany.

    Wee Granny’s Magic Bag and Wee Granny and the Ceilidh are available now from our website and all good bookshops!


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *