Illustrator Heath McKenzie : The Writer’s Studio

Heath McKenzie with The Little Bookroom’s resident Schnauzer.

I like illustrators. They seem like happy characters, in general – amusing themselves while giving stories a visual life. Heath McKenzie is one of my faves. I worked with him on the Nit Boy books. I love his edginess and the way he makes static images feel as though they are moving. Heath loves monster and zombie movies and suggests reading lots of comics if you want to become an illustrator. Come look inside his toy-riddled creative space.

Where do you currently create? How important to you is the space that you work in?
I currently create in what the real estate agent may have referred to as the ‘master bedroom’ but I took it over straight away and turned it into my studio/office (the other bedrooms are much smaller but really, all I’d be doing is sleeping in there so no need for all that space just for that!). It’s very important to have this space, mainly because of the large amount of stuff I seem to have amassed over time!

Heath McKenzie’s creative space

Do you transform your space in any way for each book?
On the odd occasion I’ll tidy it up as the desk area around me tends to become very cluttered and starts to overcrowd me during a project (largely because I’m busy concentrating on the work I’m doing and am not bothering to put things away properly).

How has the space that you create evolved or changed since you first began illustrating?
It’s mainly just filled up with more stuff!

I think Heath likes toys.

Do you keep regular hours? If not, when do you work?
I try as best I can to keep regular hours, largely because everyone else around me does. So while I am free to work whenever I fancy, keeping regular hours helps me maintain a social and family life. I do find working late into the evening good, though, when necessary. It’s always much, much quieter and there’s this sense of ‘no pressure’ from the outside world as everyone’s gone to bed… no emails or phone calls to break my concentration.

Heath McKenzie’s cover illustrations for my book, Nit Boy Liftoff

Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for work?

Roaming aimlessly online seems to have become my morning ritual… I have a set little roster of websites I pop into one by one and then (if that hasn’t lead me on some path of distraction, chasing links and more links) I’ll get my head around to the idea of starting proper work! This is, of course, after the breakfast, dog walk and shower ritual!

Heath McKenzie’s illustrations for Evil Genius and Genius Squad by Catherine Jinks.

Thanks Heath. Next week the awesome Greg Holfeld (Captain Congo books) is in the Writer’s Studio.


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