Introducing Laura Stitzel who is based in Australia
Laura was raised among animals, bushland and books in Australia. Laura studied Animation and worked in Melbourne's children’s television industry before being lured by the big studios in Canada. Her artwork has appeared in animated series by Warner Bros, Disney, PBS and many more - including Emmy Award-winning episodes of the beloved series, Arthur.
She studied classical drawing and painting at the New York Academy of Art, before returning to Australia to focus on her true love of children’s books and illustration. She has written and illustrated books for children of all ages. Laura’s work is known for its charming animals, expressive children and cosy atmospheres. She works in traditional watercolour and ink and takes advantage of digital editing to get her work as close to perfect as humanly possible.
When did you start illustrating?
I loved illustrating as soon as I could hold a pencil! I recently found some drawings where I tried to imitate Miffy books' style at age 5. But I started illustrating professionally around 10 years ago after I had been working as an animator for a few years and was keen to develop my own style.
Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?
I have known my friend Stephanie since we were teenagers and she has been my number one supporter my whole career. In fact, my first book, Mr Mo Starts to Grow, was inspired by our friendship! No matter what strange paths my creative pursuits lead me down, Steph is always excited to see what happens. It’s so important to have at least one person to say ‘Go for it! You’re going to be great at that!’.
Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?
Absolutely. I’ve always been addicted to the ‘creative buzz’, that little spark that goes off when you have a good idea, that leads to another idea, and another. It’s powerful! I’ve always been driven to create in some way - through animation, theatre, writing and drawing. I’ll always want to make something, whether it generates an income or not.
What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?
Animals. I love drawing animals in a way that is fairly realistic but very expressive. Second, on my list is trees! I love the way you can see growth and movement in a stationary object, and I try to capture that lively energy on paper.
How would you describe your style?
Quite detailed and ornate, with warmth and a cosy vibe. I’m interested in the relationship between characters and I try to capture the emotions of the creatures on the page. And I love to draw detailed environments because it’s fun to have lots of things to look at! I use watercolour and ink, then clean up and edit digitally.
What is your favourite collaboration to date?
I was so honoured to create the covers for a re-release of 12 classic children’s books. The titles included some of my absolute favourites - Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Wind in the Willows to name a few. It was daunting to draw some of the world’s most beloved characters and give the books a fresh look to appeal to young readers. I hand-lettered all the titles and created elaborate frames for the characters to live in. I had lots of fun hiding little objects in detail that only fans of those books will understand.
What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?
I am drawn to the philosophy of Illo, which aligns with my own beliefs and works to date. I believe representation is so important. All the books I’ve worked on have strong female leads, and my latest book, Moonlight Mums, is written for and about working women. I’m also the illustrator of a series of books, Charlie’s Tales, which promote body positivity for young girls. It is fantastic to see so many women from all over the world working with Illo, and to see that all their projects align with the agency’s ethos. I’m excited to see what projects I will get to work on!
Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?
I adore Beatrix Potter. For her cute and cuddly animals of course, but she was also a strong independent female creator and businesswoman. She had a clear vision of how she wanted to create small, affordable books that would reach people who otherwise could not buy books for their children. What an absolute hero! Her books are timeless and convey so much emotion. The warm glow I felt when I first saw Peter Rabbit tucked in bed on the last page - wow! It had a lasting impact on me, and I realised that books can provide comfort.
Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?
I have been painting with watercolour for many years, but it’s an ethereal process that always has delightful new ways to surprise me. When I have time I love to experiment with new painting techniques. At the moment I’m working on a painting of a little family of birds, similar to lovebirds. I’m playing with the lovely way that colours bleed together in a slightly unpredictable way to paint their feathers - it’s like magic.
Do you listen to podcasts?
If so, do you have a favourite? I love podcasts. My absolute favourite is Judge John Hodgman, where the comedian and writer solve small disputes between callers. He is so well-spoken and solves each case with wisdom, humour, and warmth. It puts me in a calm mood and is perfect for sinking into the patience I need to illustrate without rushing. I highly recommend it!
If you have any questions or a specific project in mind, please do get in touch: [email protected]
at illo agency, we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.