Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in the South African city of Port Elizabeth and spent my childhood travelling all over Africa. I spent several happy years living in Namibia (think one big desert full of lions, cheetahs and other wild animals) before moving to Swaziland with its subtropical jungles and hot springs. I finished high school and university in South Africa before moving to Australia to settle in Sydney.Where did you go to school?
My primary school education was divided between Namibia and Swaziland. I attended high school and completed a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication and Design at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.Did you have a nickname?
Nope, none. No-one could ever come up with a catchy nickname for Celeste.
What were you like in school?
I spent twelve years not listening to a single word being spoken in class. I sat in the back row and doodled or read or wrote. I wrote a 400-page epic fantasy in 8th grade, but by 9th grade it was already super-uncool and immature. I learnt early on that if I managed to maintain good grades the teachers would leave me alone to wander in my own imaginary worlds during class.What is the naughtiest thing you did?
I accidentally stole a marble from the supermarket when I was five. I bag of marbles had broken in the toy aisle of the supermarket and I was picking them up but couldn’t carry them all in my hands so put some in my pockets. I thought I took them all out again, but later that day when I was hanging upside down on the monkey bars a lone marble fell out of my pocket. I was wracked with guilt for years.What were your favourite books growing up?
I had so many! Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events is definitely one of my all-time favourite series. The first Harry Potter book was published when I was eleven and I’ve been a die-hard fan ever since.
As for picture books, my favourite was Hessie en Holderstebolder
, which, as I’m sure you can tell, isn’t an English book. Not that that matters; the important thing about this book was the illustrations. They were incredible; there were so many details and quirky, funny elements on every page.Who is your favourite children’s author?
Definitely Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket. I love the way he worked himself into each book. I also love Jon Klassen’s books for their simplicity and humour.What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
I love ice-cream, I don’t have a favourite colour and my favourite movie changes by the hour!Who inspired you to illustrate?
I think it was inevitable that I would end up as an illustrator; I was always going to spend all my time drawing. It simply worked out that way. Everyone has always encouraged me.
How did you get started?
With drawing? I started early on with crayons on my mother’s walls.
With illustrating books? I had some doodles up on my blog back in 2010 and was approached by Lapa Publishers to illustrate a 4-book, full-colour series of books for the 9 market. The experience gave me enough confidence to pitch a book I illustrated and co-wrote, Edward and the Great Discovery
, to New Frontier Publishing.How old were you?
As soon as my chubby little hands could grasp a crayon I was doodling everywhere and on everything. I was 23 when Lapa Publishers published the Bastian Blom series.Why did you want to be an illustrator?
Who wouldn’t want to draw pictures that tell stories for a living? I spend my days with a cup of tea, a puppy on my lap and a pencil in my hand, happy as can be.How do you think up ideas?
Generally I come up with them when I should be concentrating on other things (I think this is the one thing I learnt at school), like when I’m driving or cooking or taking the dog for a walk.Do you have a special place where you illustrate?
I have a 'studio' (a second bedroom) filled with a desk, a light table, paints, a computer and lots of books.What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
Being able to spend all day at home in your pyjamas and calling it work.Have you had any funny or embarrassing moments as an illustrator?
Not yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon enough. I dread the day.What do you do when you are not illustrating?
I write, work as a children’s book designer and as a wedding and lifestyle photographer, and run a couple of blogs. I also take the dog for lots of walks, bake too many cakes and love travelling.What would you have chosen to be if you were not an illustrator?
I wanted to be an astronaut for a while, but also a princess and an actress. A prince-act-ronaut.
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Roald Dahl. Did you know he was a flying ace and intelligence officer before becoming a famous author? I’d love to find out how he came up with the unexpected endings for his books and about his children’s books and their unsentimental and often very dark humour.Website/blog detailswww.celestehulmeillustration.comwww.celestehulmeillustration.com/blog