Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in Manly, NSW, and I currently live in Fairlight, NSW, just up the hill from Manly ... so you could say I haven’t strayed very far in life :)Where did you go to school?
I went to Primary school just down the road from where I live, Manly West Public School. My Dad, Aunt and Uncle went there, I went there and my daughter went there.
In High School I went to Wenona at North Sydney. Very posh. I was totally out of place.Did you have a nickname?
In High School, I was called 'Whacka' and my best friend was called 'Bluey', after a comic strip I made at the time, that I called 'Whacka and Bluey'.What were you like in school?
I danced to my own tune. I guess I was the weird kid. I was plump with glasses and bands on my teeth, and I was into the Goons, Punch and New Yorker
cartoons, I loved my clarinet, I’d draw cartoons and make my own comic strips. Loved Noel Coward. Watched all the British Comedy on TV, memorised Marty Feldman skits, wanted to be on the Mavis Bramston Show when I grew up ... I guess that makes me a NERD.What is the naughtiest thing you did?
I had undiagnosed ADHD, I was always TRYING to do the right thing, but was seen as being constantly in trouble and messing up. It was very frustrating. What was your favourite book growing up?
As a primary school kid, right from the word 'go' I LOVED One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
. Then in High School, it very definitely A Century of Punch,
a lovely collection of Punch Cartoons up until the 1950’s when the book was published. I love these two books — even now — and look at them frequently.Who is your favourite children’s author?
Definitely A.A. Milne. I love his gentle use of words.What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
My favourite food is Vegetarian Chinese and Vegetarian Thai food.
My favourite colour,…is green…oh, to see the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz
My favourite movie is…The Wizard of Oz
:)Who inspired you to illustrate?
Initially it was Mort Drucker, Don Martin, Paul Coker Jnr, Sergio Aragones and all those clever, clever people in the MAD Magazines that my brother would bring home.
Then it was PONT
(Punch magazine), E.H. Shepard, George Herriman (Krazy Kat) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes).How did you get started?
As far back as I can remember, I drew and was attracted to colour, design, character. I may well have drawn on the walls in the womb ... so I’d have to say I’ve been drawing all my life. I never really ‘got started’ as it were, rather just ‘continued’...
I got my first job as an animation cell painter for Gwyn Perkins studio, Filims. I remained in Animation for many years working here and overseas, before moving over to Children's Book Illustration when traditional hand drawn 2D animation was gasping its last breath and computer people took over from artists.How old were you?
I started in animation when I was 17, moving to Children’s Book Illustration in my late 30s.
Why did you want to be an illustrator?
I’ve always been ‘drawn’ to it ... pun intended :)
How do you think up ideas?
Having ADHD, my brain is switched on all the time ... so ideas about LOTS of things are always coming into my head. I am very observant and I see ideas and situations and characters in all sorts of areas of my everyday life
Practically anything and everything gives me ideas. I think visually.Do you have a special place where you illustrate?
I just have a desk in the corner of my bedroom where I draw and illustrate. I live in a very small flat. I can use my bed behind me as an extra surface. When she was little, sometimes my daughter would sleep in my bed behind me while I stayed up all night drawing at my desk.What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
Well, it’s all I can do ... but the BEST thing I like about it, is making people laugh, especially when they are delighted to notice something in my picture that they can relate too, some little detail.Have you had any funny or embarrassing moment as an illustrator?
I’m an introvert, so I find it very hard to do the ‘publicity’ thing. So that combined with not being very well known has given me a lot of embarrassing moments. Once at a huge book fair, I had a workshop right after Leigh Hobbs. He was terrific. Everyone loved him. As I watched though, I was becoming more and more anxious about my bit.
When the time came, only a very small handful of kids stayed for my workshop. I started talking and drawing, and one kid put up his hand and asked, 'Do we HAVE to stay here?' I stuttered that they were free to do whatever they wanted and turned back to continue drawing on the board.
When I turned around again, they were all gone ... except two young girls up the front, who said, 'Can you teach us how to draw lips?'What do you do when you are not illustrating?
When I’m not illustrating, I’m reading, drawing comics, walking, playing with my cat and people watching ... and making things ... like lino cuts and baskets and anything that comes into my mind.What would you have chosen to be if you were not an illustrator?
If I had the courage, I think I would have loved to have been a stand up comedian ... Perhaps in my next life...
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Aw, well, there’s two people here, as I can’t decide.
I would like to talk with George Herriman, who drew the Krazy Kat comics and I’d love to talk with Will Rogers, cowboy, comedian, radio personality.
Both from the 1920s and 30s.Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I was very good at Japanese at school, and was conversational in Mandarin and Thai. I love Asian things.
Janine Dawson - Illustrations