Shirley Hottier, a FAB Prize winner, is passionate about using her work to promote diversity.

Shirley Hottier initially trained as an architect in Paris and is now based in Edinburgh. She is a self-taught illustrator, with a passion for using her work to promote diversity as a way to celebrate her multiple cultures, through the warm, lively scenes and joyful characters she crafts. With a dash of humour, she designs her illustrations as captures of the small moments that make life beautiful. She specialises in digital art, incorporating a rich palette of vivid and bold colours, soft sketches and textures. Shirley is the winner of the 2021 Illustration FAB Prize.

When did you start illustrating?

I am not sure but I do remember when I thought ‘hey, I quite like drawing’: I was 5 years old and suddenly became very popular amongst girls in my class thanks to my skills for drawing princesses. I got loads of commissions from them, but I never accepted any payments, only glory, I guess. I have not stopped drawing since then.

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?

I had this amazing art teacher when I was 12 years old who always pushed me. She exhibited her favourite drawing of mine in the school and kids I didn’t even know were telling me how much they liked it - that gave me loads of confidence. As an adult, I have had loads of support from my husband, my family and my friends. So, I guess, the answer is, ‘all of the above’!

Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?

I think unconsciously, yes. I trained as an architect, but when I look back at what attracted me to architecture, it was mostly the creative side and the visual arts attached to it. I always pushed that career towards the most artistic elements, before I realised, wait a second, that’s what I need to do and made the switch to full time illustration.

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

I get loads of inspiration from just looking at people around me. I just take pleasure in illustrating people, their outfits, manners and ways of moving - everything that makes them unique and endearing. So many great colour palettes are already there in people’s fashion choices!

How would you describe your style?

Bold, colourful, diverse and fun (at least to me!)

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

My illustrated GIFs for lighting designers Light Follows Behaviour’s social media campaign ‘5 ways to lighten up your evenings outdoors (in the winter)’ - dream clients, it was very fun to do and I learnt a lot!

What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?

I am really attracted to Illo Agency’s pledge for diversity. This is reflected in their selection of artists and in the work they get commissioned. I’m very excited to work across formats and categories - be it editorial, product packaging, children’s books or other opportunities -and all this is possible with Illo Agency.

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I think she’s an exceptional human being. Reading her book,Americanah was a light bulb moment for me as it was the first time I have felt represented (or very close to being represented) in a book. On top of being an amazing author, she is a very inspirational voice for Black women and feminism. I also really resonate with her having ‘many identities’ and switching between them in different situations - something that’s not often discussed.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

I have been exploring a book concept for children whose grandparents live abroad and speak a different language - which is the case for my son and his French grandparents. I lived in Italy and remember some strong-minded and very endearing local old ladies who inspired me to write this particular story about a boy who visits his Nonna (grandmother) in Italy every summer. Whatever the boy sees or does with her is an opportunity for him to learn Italian, and so, the book becomes a sort of mini dictionary as it tells of the affectionate adventures the boy has with his grandmother.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

Yes, every day. I listen to the New York Times Daily podcast and particularly their Sunday Read episodes, which dive into varied subjects. The episodes are told from intriguingly fresh perspectives that always allow me to see the world in a new light.

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.