Help our followers get to know you. What does a typical day in the life of Millie Marotta involve?
No two days are ever the same really, although since I started working on the colouring books I do find that I have to plan my days out much more carefully than I used to as there are simply not enough hours in the day. I work from my studio at home so don't have to dash off out every morning, which is lovely. The first part of the morning is usually spent sorting through emails and doing admin, I find it really hard to concentrate on drawing if I know I have a pile of emails stacking up which need my attention, so it's best to get those out of the way as soon as I can. The rest of the day will be spent doing research, sketching, planning page layouts or drawing up final artwork. Putting a whole book together is a huge undertaking, not least because my work is so detailed, and so the whole process is very labour intensive. This often means long hours, it's not unusual for me to work 12 hour days 7 days a week. However I absolutely love what I do and it doesn't really feel like work for me, it's what I would be doing with my time if I didn't have to work anyway, so I'm very lucky in that sense.
When did you first become interested in illustrating?
My drawing days started pretty much a soon as I was able to hold a pencil. Obviously it took a while for any level of skill to develop but even at that early age I found drawing a very engaging activity and naturally gravitated towards it as a hobby and then as a subject to study. I actually studied Wildlife Illustration, which was amazing for me as it meant I got to combine both the two things I had always felt very passionately about, drawing and wildlife. When I look back now I suppose my path was always mapped out, though I didn’t realize it at the time. It wasn't until quite a while after my studies that I actually began to work as a freelance Illustrator, but I always carried on with my own creative projects alongside other jobs during those years. After teaching Art in a local secondary school for a few years I finally decided to take the plunge and here I am today, absolutely loving it!
What are your favourite things to draw?
Ah ha, that's a very easy one to answer, for me it's all about the natural world. Be it birds, mammals, plants, trees, insects, fish...there's really not much of the natural world that I'm not a fan of.
Where do you find inspiration?
Again, it's the natural world. I've been pretty fascinated by it since as far back as I can remember. I grew up on a smallholding in rural west Wales and it is there that I would say my obsession with all things flora and fauna first began. All those years spent in the countryside, very much immersed in nature, firmly cemented my fascination with the natural world. I just love that here's a entire planet's worth of plants, animals and habitats out there to explore and discover and I honestly cannot see a day where I would begin to tire of it as a subject. I’m very lucky in that sense, that my favourite things tie in so well together!
If you weren't an author/illustrator what would you be?
Hmmmm, that's one's a bit more difficult. There was a time before teaching that I thought I might train as an Art Therapist and so in another world perhaps that's what I would be doing, or failing that I think it would be a pretty safe bet to say I'd probably be working with wildlife in some capacity.
Why do you think adult colouring books have become so huge?
I think colouring in is something that probably all of us enjoyed as children and is a wonderfully simple creative outlet and a great way for people to de-stress in today’s busy and fast paced world. As we grow up we tend to have less time or inclination to allow for these types of activities, that’s not because we don’t enjoy them anymore, it’s just that other things become more prominent. Colouring can offer a much needed distraction from the ‘grown-up’ world and those things which may be causing us worry or stress, a little bit of ‘escapism’ if you like. It has actually been proven that these types of creative activities, where you are focusing the mind and working with your hands, can reduce levels of anxiety and help relieve stress.
I think they can also offer us a wonderful sense of satisfaction or achievement in the sense that we have a ‘finished product’ as a result of our efforts. They are also great for providing a creative outlet to those who perhaps don’t think they have the skills or creativity to start something of their own from scratch. A blank piece of paper can be quite daunting for some.
What does your working environment look like?
I'd like to say very neat and tidy, which is how I usually like it to be, although things have been so busy lately it's looking a little like a paper explosion has gone off in the studio! I work from a little studio that I have set up at home, which overlooks the garden, which is lovely but in itself is a huge distraction, especially at this time of year with all the garden birds busying themselves and our resident seagulls up in-between the chimney pots building this years nest..noisily!
The walls of the studio are usually covered in sketches, print outs, research and reference material for what ever project/s I have on the go. I find it really helpful to have these visual reminders up on the walls, I find ideas come much more easily when there are lots of visual prompts around.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, who/what?
If I listen to anything when I'm working it will usually be the radio, although depending on what kind of work I'm doing I'll sometimes go days without listening to anything. If I do have the radio on it will either be Radio 6 and Radio 4... I've become rather partial to the odd afternoon play while I'm drawing!
What are your favourite things in life?
Aside from the obvious drawing and wildlife I would say: Travelling to new places, sitting in the sun (I seem to have inherently cold bones!), exploring and going on adventures, a good storm and of course my lovely friends and family.
Finally, please give 3 words that describe your work.
Intricate, detailed, charming.