Interview with Illustrator Extraordinaire Jennifer Bruce

Jennifer Bruce is the amazing illustrator of Who is Fitzy Fox? a new picture book written by Amelia Trompf. Who is Fitzy Fox? is a story about a furry animal who is befuddled. He always thought he was a dog but everyone calls him ‘Foxy’. To solve this existential crisis, Fitzy sets out on an expedition that journeys from Melbourne to London, in an effort to uncover the truth of his furry identity.

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How many books have you illustrated?

Who is Fitzy Fox? is the first book I have illustrated and I have had great fun creating the character of Fitzy Fox and drawing the places in Melbourne and London that he visits and the other characters that he meets.

Where are you from?

I am from Edinburgh. Amelia met me at one of my drawing classes when she lived in Scotland for a short time. It was about five years after I met Amelia (and she was back in Melbourne) that she contacted me about illustrating her story. I love the fact that now it is so easy to work with people even if you are on the other side of the world.

 

How did you create the illustrations?

I started by making very quick sketches of what I thought Fitzy Fox would look like and looked at lots of photos of fox terriers. After I had read over the story many times, I noted down ideas I had and things that I wanted to include. I made a storyboard and sent it to Little Steps Publishing and Amelia. We all discussed our ideas about what could be changed. You will see that in the storyboard, Fitzy isn’t wearing clothes whereas in the final book, he wears little shorts and a shirt and of course coats and beanies when he visits London!

The final illustrations emerged from these initial sketches. I used pencil and watercolour and I used the bright colours of Melbourne’s summer in contrast with the cooler tones of London in winter. You can watch me create Fitzy Fox here https://youtu.be/pcNx1R3VcTg

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What is your favourite page in Who is Fitzy Fox?

I love the page where Fitzy is in the fox’s den having dinner. I like that you can see the common garden above them and then you see a layer of soil and the den underneath, which is cosy and homely.unspecified-2

How did you learn to draw?

I practiced a lot when I was a child and then learned more about drawing at school and Art College. Anyone can learn to draw – practising is the most important thing and going to a class or reading books on drawing can also help. I used to teach a class about drawing with the right side of your brain (that is where I met Amelia as she enrolled as a student). Your right brain is nonverbal and intuitive so it sees things in patterns or as whole things rather than it’s parts. People who say they can’t draw improve so quickly using the right brain – it’s exciting!

What is your favourite gelato flavour?

Toffee crisp

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What is your favourite animal?

Horses, foxes and otters (I can’t pick one!) I also really love dogs and cats…and rats…and bumblebees. The list goes on!

What is your favourite children’s book?

Mog the Forgetful Cat by Judith Kerr

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