Interview: Karen Erasmus

November 28th, 2017

Karen Erasmus moved to Australia from the UK in 2004 with her husband and two tiny children, and settled on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. Previously a primary school teacher, she returned to studying art at Chisholm Institute after her third child.


A long admirer of illustrators like Freya Backwood and Emily Gravett, Karen was delighted to illustrate her first children’s picture book in 2011, and has now completed more than ten books. She works in watercolour, ink and pastel, and aims to create images that are engaging and lively for young readers.


When she isn’t drawing and painting, Karen visits schools to read stories to young audiences. She also loves cycling, swimming, crochet, and hearing her children’s laughter. Karen's latest book is Santa's Tight Squeeze. 


What do you try to achieve when illustrating a picture book?
I focus on a sense of fun, interesting characters that are engaging, and action that supports the words.


Do you illustrate at home or do you have a studio?
I’m very lucky that I have my own room to work at home.


Which illustrators do you look up to?
Emily Gravett, Polly Dunbar, Freya Blackwood, Matt Phelan.


Tell us about your latest picture book?
Santa’s Tight Squeeze is a light-hearted story of Santa travelling all around the world and enjoying all the treats that have been left out for him. It’s a story with a gentle message about the importance of sharing. I’ve illustrated Santa before so I had to change his look a bit from the traditional Santa. He’s got a bit of a ‘40s fighter pilot look and his sleigh has been updated.


What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?
Draw every day and keep learning.


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