Four Things You Need To Know To Become A Children’s Author And Illustrator

By Penny from Year 3

Imagine being in a room with over thirty creative kids and two bestselling Australian author/illustrators, Matt Cosgrove and Aura Parker. 

This was what it was like at the ‘Inaugural Children’s Illustration Exhibition’ Awards Party at Berkelouw Books in Leichhardt. ‘Inaugural’ means that it is the first special event with lots more to come. 

There were over fifty entries from kids aged 3-14 who created illustrations inspired by their favourite book/series.

The kids gathered around Matt Cosgrove (‘Macca the Alpaca’, Álpacas with Maracas’, ‘Çeleste the Giraffe Loves to Laugh’) and Aura Parker (‘Twig’, ‘Cocoon’, ‘Meerkat Splash’) with tummies full of lemon cordial, cheezels, lamingtons, chocolate chip cookies and popcorn to learn what it was like to be a superstar author/illustrator. 

Everyone listened to every word that they said and they awarded prizes and certificates to competition winners, including Cerys and Orla, both from Kegworth. 

“The standard was really high and it was awesome listening to two author illustrators share their different techniques when they write and draw their stories,” said prizewinner, Orla.

After the event, I sat down with Aura and Matt to find out how to become an author/illustrator.

  1. Draw as much as you can

Aura got hooked on writing and illustrating when she was a kid. “I love books, and I am passionate about art. I’m always thinking up pictures and turning them into stories. When I was a little kid, I chose to do a lot of drawing and doodling because I love it so much. I even went through a phase where I did a drawing of a different animal every day. All the practice adds up!”

Penny with Matt and Aura

She continued, “It is important to learn the craft too. I have a graphic design background.”

To get into illustration, Aura says that it is helpful to “be able to draw human and animal characters, ideally you need to make sure they are expressive as well, and be able to draw them in different poses.”

  1. Read a lot of books

Matt says that if you want to get into writing children’s books, you should “read LOTS of kids’ books so you become familiar with all the elements that make a book work. Then start writing!”

Matt adds, “Lots of people tell me they have a great idea for a children’s book, but you need to actually write the idea down! Writers write.

An Illustration from the competition
  1. Don’t give up

Aura’s book, ‘Cocoon’ is “about a caterpillar that turns into a moth, having to persevere, be courageous and find your imagination. A bit like what an emerging writer or artist has to do on their journey!”

Aura says that we should practice as much as we can and learn the craft, but “don’t be too hard on yourself if it is not perfect. You know that little voice in your head that says ‘It’s not good’? That voice needs to be helpful. You should listen to it when it is going to make you draw better, but not when it is going to make you stop.”

An illustration from the competition
  1. Let your imagination run wild

Matt has fun using his imagination to create books that kids will love to read.“There’s a great sense of freedom in what I do because I get to use my imagination and there really are no limits. Plus, if you think about it, I kinda get paid to colour in. I’m the luckiest guy in the world!”

You can see the Children’s Illustration Competition Exhibition at Berkelouw Books, Leichhardt  until Saturday 23rd Nov! 

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