Claudia Boldt grew up in Cologne, Germany, and moved to the UK to study at the Glasgow School of Art and then Kingston University. Her illustrations appear in many newspapers and publications, and she has written and illustrated a number of books – most recently for Tate Publishing. She is the recipient of a Booktrust Best New Illustrator award and her work has been shown at the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition. Her absolute favourite animals to draw are sausage dogs.
Claudia is Illustrator to Laurence King’s latest Bingo Game – Poo Bingo.
Her previous titles include, Who Did This Poo? Animals at Home and Story Box.
Welcome to the blog Claudia, what is your favourite thing about being an illustrator?
Thank you for having me! Oh, there are so many things! Mainly that I don’t have to adhere to anyone’s timetable. There are deadlines of course but I can structure my own day and I can decide if I want to take on a job a or not. And I don’t have to go to someone else’s office! I basically do what I did all my life – draw and listen to podcasts. Back in the day it was mainly the same cassette tapes over and over again! When I draw it gives me a sense of calm and I can inhabit a world which is far from the practicalities of everyday life. I think without it I wouldn’t be happy.
Do you have a regular drawing routine?
I have more of a regular writing routine. I try to write one or two hours in the morning before I illustrate the rest of my workday. I can only think in the morning, but I don’t find that I have to think too much to illustrate. It’s more automatic! Ideally, I would always be in the studio at eight and take an afternoon break to go horse riding and then return to the studio afterwards. It’s good for me not to sit too long and not to be in front of the screen all the time. In reality I don’t have a horse yet so I can only do this once a week. But I still try to start early and have a one or two-hour break of some sort in the afternoon.
Who would you love to collaborate with most?
Good question. My dream is to see my characters walk. So, it would have to be a film-maker, I guess. I do love the old school claymations of Nick Park. If somebody wants to collaborate please contact me!
If you could take a long train journey with any writer or artist, living or dead, who would it be – and where would you go?
This type of questions is far too hard to answer! I think the two illustrators I love most are Tove Jansson and Charles M. Schulz. It’s not only their fabulous drawings but I can relate to their sense of humour and their worldview. That’s why I became an illustrator. I feel connected and understood when I read their comics and I hope that with my stories and illustrations I can make other people feel connected too.
The next place I like to visit is Mexico – so we could go there! I have started weaving to get away from the computer and I would love to visit places where this craft is still very much alive.
Where is your favourite place to find inspiration and/or illustrate?
Over the years I collect memories and experiences – no matter if that’s at home or on holiday, from a museum, a book or from my relationships. All these experiences generate feelings or emotions and sometimes an insight; I try to bring these to my work.
Who or what made you into a book lover? Can you remember a specific book or moment?
In primary school we had to pick our favourite book. Mine was Frederick by Leo Lionni. We then had to create a picture book based on it. I don’t know if that was the specific moment…it’s almost like the love for books was always there. Nothing gives me a bigger rush than going into a bookstore. I am trying to buy fewer books and use the library more, but I guess there are worse things than buying books!
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to start creating their own art?
I used to be scared of the blank page because there were some years between school and studying illustration when I stopped drawing. Getting into print making, screen printing and linocut helped me a lot. The process kind of dictates what you can or can’t do and sometimes that helps to get over the initial fear to create something bad. This is the perfectionist speaking. I still have this fear before I start a new project. But I am working on getting over it. Hopefully next time I will have figured out how to kill my inner perfectionist and I will have a more insightful answer! Keep trying is what I tell myself again and again.