Behind the Book | Diane Ewen
last updated 19 August 2020
Diane Ewen’s debut picture book is a madcap adventure about creativity and the joy of reading… even if you are a T-Rex! We caught up with Diane to ask her all about Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, written by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and published by Puffin.
Book Cover // Diane Ewen
What was your creative process for illustrating Never Show a T-Rex a Book?
Never Show a T-Rex a Book!, written by the very talented Rashmi Sirdeshpande, is about a T-Rex getting up to all sorts of things after beginning to read books. My process in creating illustrations is not very complicated. It usually begins with an awful lot of panic and wondering what I’ve let myself in for! Then I usually have an overload of ideas, before a lot of them fall by the wayside. Once I get pencil to paper, I begin to feel a little more confident. I’m not a very detailed sketcher, so before too long I scan my hand-drawn sketches into Photoshop. I usually place the images, then move them around until I am happy with the composition. For the T-Rex, I used some watercolour textures to create the T-Rex’s skin, which I think worked really well and made her stand out!
Black and white rough sketch // Final image
Were you an artistic child and where did the creativity all begin?
I was a very artistic child. I was very shy, so instead of talking I became very observant instead. I suppose it was this, coupled with the fact I got my best grades in Art at school that made me want to do something artistic with my life. I still remember a particular shade of red glitter that I used at school to make Christmas art projects. Every time I see it now, very happy feelings flood back.
Work in progress illustration // Final spot illustration
How to you work through a creative block?
I worry if I get creative block, and my thought process goes into overdrive. To help, I try turning my original ideas on their heads. I remember while working on the cover for Never Show a T-Rex a Book I had one idea where I had the T-Rex bursting through a door saying ‘Ta Dah!’, and another idea where the T-Rex was picking up and shaking a mobile library bus and then devouring all the books that tumbled through the back doors. They were fun ideas, and helped getting the creative juices going. Once I’m unblocked I can try and rein things back in again.
Rough cover concepts // The final cover design
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Never, ever, give up! Write yourself a memo in very large letters to encourage yourself. Mine says: “CONFIDENCE! … YOU CAN DO IT!” These few words have carried me through a lot of down times. The words can be anything but they need to be a trigger to spur you on.
Spread from the book
Can you tell us what to expect next from you?
I’m pleased to say I’ll be working again with Rashmi Sirdeshpande on another book. I’ve also illustrated a picture book coming out this October written by Floella Benjamin about the Windrush generation called Coming to England, and I’m one of the illustrators in The Puffin Book of Big Dreams, which is out in September to celebrate Puffin’s 80th Birthday.
How has Bright made a difference to your career?
Bright is what it says on the tin! Since joining The Bright Agency, I haven’t looked back. I’ve had a wealth of opportunities brought to me by the wonderful people at Bright. I especially have to big up Freddie Dawson, one of my agents, as she has been fantastic. I always feel that someone is fighting in my corner with her. It’s perfect for an artist like me; they sort out the business side of things, which leaves me to just get on with the career I’ve always dreamt of!