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Illustrator Spotlight: Harrison Vial
Posted 21.07.2022

Illustrator Spotlight: Harrison Vial

In this week's Illustrator Spotlight, we hear from Harrison Vial, illustrator of UQP's upcoming children's book, Egg.

Harrison Vial is an Adelaide-based illustrator. While studying illustration at the University of South Australia, he developed an interest in children’s picture books and animation. He enjoys using a blend of traditional and digital techniques in his work. Egg is Harrison’s debut picture book.

Egg is set to be released in August, and is the first book you’ve ever illustrated. What did you enjoy about the process, and what did you learn?

Working on Egg by Clare Atkins was a big learning experience for me. Luckily I had a lot of support from the team at UQP, specifically from Cathy Vallance and Clair Hume who guided me through the process. It was great to learn about this process as I saw it unfolding. The most enjoyable part for me was working on the final artwork. It felt good to commit to designs which had been refined in early concept stages.

How did you develop your style, and how did it translate into the world of books?

Developing a style was a bit of a tedious process. I did a lot of experimenting at university with different mediums, and eventually found that I really enjoyed working with fine line pens, and blending scanned linework with digital colouring. The transition to working on Eggalso felt good. I was able to use the same picture-building techniques I had learnt, and it was fun to create those illustrations knowing the main audience for them would be children.

If you had your pick between illustrating a children’s book, graphic novel and comic book, which would you choose and why?

That’s a tough call. I think it’d be a lot of fun to work on a graphic novel because of the kind of stories you’d get to work with. However after working on Egg, I’d love the opportunity to work on another children’s book.

Which Australian author/s would you love to work with?

I’ve never really thought about that – at this stage I’d love to work with anyone. Maybe with someone who has a story which I could draw a lot of nature for.

What do you want your work to communicate?

Every project is different, but I guess it usually comes down to communicating a certain emotion, or at least providing enough in the illustration so the viewer can interpret it in their own way.

What is your advice for aspiring illustrators?

Probably to find a healthy balance between being critical of your work and still making sure you’re having fun with it.

Whose work inspires you?

There are a lot of artists I really like, but to name a few: Victoria Vincent, Robert Valley, Emily Thatcher and Holly Warburton.

What does an average day look like for you?

Every morning starts with a big coffee, and I’ll listen to a podcast or some music. Then it’s pretty much just drawing for the rest of the day. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of animation which has been fun.

What is the most fulfilling part of your career?

It’s always nice to hear people’s thoughts on my work, especially if they say they’ve connected with it in a certain way. That’s a good feeling.

As a child, what was your dream career?

I remember really wanting to dig up dinosaur fossils for a career, but I also thought all the dinosaur bones would already have been dug up by the time I was older. Once I dug up some bird bones in the backyard which was pretty exciting.

Do you have any favourite UQP titles, authors or illustrators?

UQP sent me through a few books before I started working on Egg, all of which I really liked. These included Bea by Christine Sharp, The Tale of the Whalewritten by Karen Swann and illustrated by Padmacandra, and A Quiet Girlby Peter Carnavas. I’ve also been meaning to check out Tiny Wondersby Sally Soweol Han which looks great.

Tell us about your latest project!

I’ve recently been working on my own animated miniseries called Stew Day. It follows a man cooking a stew in a cabin in the woods, who ventures out into the night after realising he’s missing ingredients. It’s a pretty long-term project that I’ll keep working on over the coming years, but I’m very excited to one day share it.

How can we follow you online and where can we see more of your work?

You can follow me on Instagram @harrisonvial, or find my work on The Illustration Room website. My website harrisonvial.com also has some prints available for purchase.