Hi there! My name’s Lisa Currie, 28 years old, I’m an author and artist living in Melbourne, Australia. I make interactive books for people to doodle over that explore friendship, self-reflection and positivity, among other things. My publisher is Penguin Random House and I’ve been with them for five years and three books (with a fourth on the way). Before that I ran a blog (just for fun) called The Scribble Project where I interviewed artists using visual, hand-drawn interviews. That’s actually how my publisher found me and (eventually) offered me a book deal!
When did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator?
I’ve always loved making things in a very dorky way – being a hermit in my bedroom, making things just for myself and never really showing anyone. Maybe I decided to be an illustrator when I discovered Keri Smith’s book (Wreck This Journal, etc) and was wowed by how different and handmade and experimental those books were. I followed her career path (from what I could find out about it) to study an illustration course. Funnily enough, I ended up not finishing the course because I got a book deal with (wait for it…) Keri’s publisher! Weird and wonderful coincidence!
Would you recommend studying illustration?
Maybe! It can be really helpful to learn new techniques, the more technical stuff. But art school isn’t everything. Go to art school if you want to, but keep making things in your own time. Don’t get too stuck in the art school bubble, it’s not the real world and they don’t know everything! But also… the teachers can be amazing and there’s lessons I still carry with me always.
How long before illustration became your primary form of income?
I’ve been working on my books for 5-6 years and only this year have been able to drop my part-time job (I drove an ice cream van!). I’ll still do some seasonal festival work, for pocket money.
Can you describe your typical day?
I don’t really have one! I spend my time between cafes (scribbling in my notebook) and my studio. Today is freezing so I’m huddled by my heater writing emails, then I’ll go to a cafe to write, then I’ll go to a friend’s for taco dinner, then I’ll go to bed.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
How to do my taxes! It’s worth finding a helpful accountant who will be kind and explain all that to you, all that business technical stuff is CONFUSING.
Having an idea for something that you wish existed in the world, and being able to bring that to life.
What would you be?
Still be making things, something to do with ideas. Maybe a mum of six children.
Any other tips?
Personal projects! If you have an idea, just make it happen, don’t wait to be ‘discovered’ or whatever. Make zines, make blogs, put on your own little shows. This is where you’ll find your voice because you have no-one to answer to. The whole reason I have a career is because I sat in my bedroom for 7+ years working on The Scribble Project blog without ulterior motive or a pay check… just because it excited me. Don’t try to make money from your craft right away (if you do- awesome) but don’t force it. The ‘before’ phase is the best because you can experiment and you’re not stuck in any pigeonhole.