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Exclusive Interview with illustrator Josie Shenoy

Exclusive Interview with illustrator Josie Shenoy
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To celebrate the release of two new jigsaw puzzles, London Buildings and Map of London, we are getting to know the illustrator behind the puzzles, Josie Shenoy!

Josie is an illustrator based in Crystal Palace, London and her artwork can be found in museums and shops such as Anthropologie, the British Museum, National Gallery and Liberty London.

Her first picture book for children, The National Archives: The Buildings That Made London, was published with Bloomsbury, was shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards at Somerset House, and longlisted for the Klaus Flugge prize. Her artwork in this book was so striking that we just had to turn it into a puzzle! London Buildings and Map of London are the first jigsaws illustrated by Josie that we have introduced to our range and we hope you love them as much as we do.

Q: Hi Josie, thanks for speaking with us today. How does it feel to have your artwork turned into a jigsaw puzzle?  

A: It feels wonderful! I’ve always had in my mind that my artwork would lend itself to a jigsaw puzzle, with so much intricate detail and fun things to spot. My friends and family have been enjoying puzzles throughout lockdown - they have brought so much comfort and cheer to many people during this difficult time. So when the lovely team at Gibsons reached out to me to collaborate, I was very excited!

Q: How long have you been an illustrator for and what inspired you to make it your career?

A: I have been working as an illustrator since graduating from my illustration degree in 2012. I have always loved drawing for as long as I can remember, and my parents were big on reading. I feel very grateful for their encouragement. My dad is Indian, and my childhood travels to South India and all the beautiful textiles around the home have definitely inspired my work. My great-grandmother worked for William Morris, so maybe it’s in the blood too!

 

Q: What motivates you to work for yourself? Do you have any rituals or habits to keep you creatively motivated?

A: I love the freedom that comes with working for myself, deciding whether to say yes or no to opportunities and having creative control over my work. The variety that comes with an illustration career keeps me motivated every day. It’s especially satisfying designing beautiful things that I’d like for myself and seeing that customers like them too. I love the process of creating artwork and seeing an idea come to life.

I’ve found that I’m more productive later in the day and into the evening, although I’m getting better at working more ‘normal’ hours! Routines are useful since my daily schedule can be so varied and it’s easy for home and work life to overlap. Regular tea breaks are definitely helpful, and my cat, Larry, is also a fan of a routine so he keeps me in check. He’s brilliant for studio morale too.

I find that I’m most inspired when I’m relaxing and have space to think, which isn’t always easy when you need to create at speed, but I’ve worked hard at figuring this out over the years. I like to listen to a wide variety of music, visit museums and galleries, go for walks in Crystal Palace park and spend time with friends and family, which is super helpful for my wellbeing.

 

Q: What’s your biggest achievement?

A: The picture book (The Buildings That Made London) with Bloomsbury was a dream commission, I loved working on it so much, and it taught me so much about London!

Collaborating with Anthropologie repeatedly has also felt like an achievement, as they were a dream client of mine. I’ve worked on some super fun collections with them, from calendars to table linens and tableware since 2016, along with stocking them with my art prints.

Q: Our Product Development Manager loved your artwork in The National Archives book, The Buildings That Made London so got in touch and met you during your exhibition at We Built This City in Carnaby Street. How did that exhibition go and are you planning on holding any in the future?

A: The exhibition was wonderful and we had so much fun! I was delighted that with the help of Alice and her amazing team at We Built This City, we smashed the original sales target. It was really eye-opening to meet so many customers from all around the world, and hearing their lovely thoughts about my artwork made me so happy. Spending my December in a busy shop in the heart of London really put me in the Christmas spirit! Of course it’s a tricky time for retail and galleries at the moment, but I am hopeful that in time I’ll be able to exhibit new work, as London bounces back.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators who want to develop their career? 

A: Be confident in your ability and work hard. I would also encourage illustrators to seek business support from places like The Prince’s Trust and the AOI when they first start out. Also, don’t be afraid to approach clients you want to work with. Sometimes it’s important to put the work in, to get the work in the first place!

Josie will be holding a puzzle giveaway on her Instagram, give her a follow to be in with a change of winning.
Map of London and London Buildings are available to buy now! See below for a list of retailers:
All Jigsaw Puzzles
Asterisk Jigsaw Puzzles
Bright Ideas
Jigsaw Puzzles Direct
Josie Shenoy Shop
Gibsons
Amazon

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