Artist Journey: Katy Hudson
last updated 12 February 2020
Ever since she was a little girl, Katy Hudson loved expressing her artistic talents. Beginning with drawing on her parents walls, Katy went on to study illustration at art school where she developed her signature style. While she never thought of herself as an author, Katy’s storytelling abilities were quickly discovered after joining Bright, and she is now a best-selling author-illustrator of seven books! We were delighted to catch up with Katy about her creative process, journey to becoming an author, and the release of her latest author-illustrated title, The Perfect Birthday Recipe, which published February 1st with Capstone.
You’ve had a passion for drawing and creativity ever since you were a child. Were you always interested in storytelling as well? At what point in your career did you decide you wanted to be an author as well as an illustrator?
While I’ve always loved telling stories and imagining the story behind a character I’ve illustrated, being an author wasn’t ever something I “decided.” I always hoped to get into children’s publishing, and illustrating picture books was the dream. I’ve had some amazing agents at Bright who have encouraged me to write stories for various characters I had in my portfolio, and from there they turned into books. For me, each author/illustrated book has been a wonderful happy accident!
Katy Hudson’s author-illustrated titles
All that being said, I do have a memory of being about seven and making a homemade book about a young girl getting kidnapped… I’m pretty certain I had borrowed the plot from “Neighbors,” the Australian Soap Opera my Mum used to watch, so maybe the writing urge has always been there—thankfully my plots are a little lighter these days!
The Perfect Birthday Recipe—the fourth and final story in the best-selling set of seasonal picture books, including Too Many Carrots, A Long Winter’s Nap, and The Golden Acorn—published with Capstone on February 1st! How has it felt to develop the characters of Tortoise, Bird, Rabbit, Squirrel, and Beaver over time?
I often find it hard to finish a project and not feel like I could have done the whole thing a better way. To be able to go back to these characters three times and itch that scratch was a real indulgence for me. I had made little notes about each character’s personality when I wrote Too Many Carrots. When Capstone signed on for the next three books it was such a treat to be able to give each character a book of their own and explore that.
Bird, Beaver, Tortise, Rabbit, and Squirrel
It was suggested early on that the books be seasonal, making it the best of both worlds in terms of being able to revisit and refine the character artwork while also being able to play and develop their surroundings with different weather and color palettes.
Top Left: TOO MANY CARROTS (spring), Top Right: THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY RECIPE (summer)
Bottom Left: THE GOLDEN ACORN (fall), Bottom Right: A LOUD WINTER’S NAP (winter)
Check out our blog feature on Too Many Carrots here.
Your characters and scenes are delightfully detailed. What mediums and tools do you use while building texture and adding details to a sketch?
My materials have stayed pretty constant over the years. I use a mixture of Indian ink, watercolor and now acrylic ink depending on the colors I’m after and the type of wash I want. I use an ink nib and pen for all the finer detail and have about six paintbrushes of varying sizes that I always fall back to. A lot of people assume my work is digital because I use Photoshop to drop different elements into a scene, but everything is painted by hand. Normally, the characters and the background are painted separately then scanned in and arranged on screen.
Progression from sketch to final art in THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY RECIPE
How has your agent, Anne Moore Armstrong, supported you in promoting and expanding your author-illustrated work?
Whenever I meet someone wanting to get into Illustration, my advice is always, “keep drawing and get an agent!” Anne has been integral in securing my author/illustrated work and is a constant touchstone for running through ideas and showing new artwork. She helped me rewrite and revise my author/illustrated picture book sketch dummies so that they were ready to pitch to publishers for acquisition. Without an agent in your corner, I think you can feel quite lost in it all.
Katy reading TOO MANY CARROTS during a storytime event
From Katy’s Agent, Anne…
“Katy is a tremendous talent and an absolute delight to work with! She is a master at capturing nuances of gesture and movement and attitude in her characters. Although she loves illustrating animals, as her books show, she is now developing some wonderful new children and people in her portfolio that I’m thrilled to see. It’s a joy to collaborate with Katy and watch her success as an illustrator in this competitive children’s book market.”
What inspires you to create your best work, and how has having your first child changed your perspective about children’s books?
I always know I can do better because I’ve always learned something from the previous project. My best work is still to come so I think that will always inspire me.
A collection of Katy’s paintbrushes and materials
My daughter is a huge inspiration. When writing, I imagine reading my stories to her now as opposed to my younger self. I think that’s made me think more about the types of stories I want tell. She can’t read yet so I find a lot of our storytime tends to involve finding the random tractor on page five that isn’t even mentioned in the story. With this in mind, I like putting extra details in the pictures for her to find, and when she starts to read, she’ll be able to see the baking powder tub in The Perfect Birthday Recipe that I named after her!
Katy with her daughter and a copy of TOO MANY CARROTS
Click here to see Katy’s latest author-illustrated title, The Perfect Birthday Recipe.
View Katy’s full portfolio here.
To work with Katy, contact her agent Anne Moore Armstrong.