Interview: Katrin Dreiling Winner HarperCollins Illustrator Showcase Award

I caught up with Katrin Dreiling the day after she received an illustration portfolio mentorship award with Lisa Berryman at HarperCollins.

Katrin with HaperCollin’s Lisa Berryman

Katrin with HaperCollin’s Lisa Berryman

How are you Katrin, you looked completely overwhelmed when hearing your name on the night.

I felt surprised, stunned and speechless at the time. But I do remember very clearly the cheering in the room, it was a beautiful feeling of community, I feel very grateful.

If you could have prepared a speech, what would you have included?

I would have thanked SCBWI and Lisa Berryman and the judges for their support. I would have thanked my friends and colleagues for their never-ending support. And I would have thanked my family and especially my husband for their support and last but not least, I would have loved to thank the printroomeditions’ Jon and Stella who printed my Portfolio.

What was your favourite moment of the conference (apart from the portfolio win):

I had so much fun with my room mate (aww, thanks Katrin) and I loved the words of wisdom from Essie White who said that “You can’t force education on kids, you have to engage them.”

I also loved the entertainment of the 3-minute book launces at the Children’s Bookshop at Beecroft and the Pitch Perfect sessions at the conference as it showed how subjective feedback is at any stage of someone’s career.

Thank you Katrin!

by Yvonne Mes


What is an Art Director Really Looking For? with Sarah Davis

Art Director of Walker Books, Sarah Davis, shared her wisdom in a very captivating way. Not only an amazing artist but a true storyteller (check out Sarah’s amazing art, here.) Sarah shared the key things an Art Director is looking for in a meaningful way, particularly for those of us who are still not sure of the difference between an illustrator and an artist. The answer?

Art Director Sarah Davis’ break out session for illustrators

Art Director Sarah Davis’ break out session for illustrators

What is an Art Director looking for?

Illustrators who are talented, professional and have the x-factor.

Sarah’s 7 key topics:


  • Become confident in your use of technique and mediums.

  • You need to be able to draw - observational, expressive

  • Understand the formal elements of art - light, tone, form, structure, mark-making etc.

  • Remember a beautiful artwork is not the same as a successful illustration.

  • Ask, how can I develop my Technical skills?

  • Lots of learning and doing

  • Lots of observational drawing

  • Take classes

  • Experiment with different media

  • Research other artists work. What works? What do you like? What don’t you like?


  • Can you help the reader connect and empathise with the characters?

  • Can you show mood or emotion?

  • Do your poses show expression?

  • Show interaction between characters - establishing clear relationships

  • Interesting personalities

  • Character consistency

  • How can I become better at creating a feeling towards the characters?

  • Lots of practice.

  • Observe and collect - draw lots of people in your life and around you

  • Learn from yourself - pose!

  • Be prepared to draw and redraw and redraw until you know your characters - once is not enough


  • Remember you must tell a good story, that has clarity and continuity

  • Can you create emotional punch?

  • Can you make the reader curious - What just happened? What might happen next? What’s at stake?


  • Make sure your work is appropriate for the genre, age group and publisher you are submitting to

  • Look at your competition. What makes you special/different/better?

  • Visit libraries, bookshops, publisher’s websites. Take note of the publisher on the imprint pages of books you love. Who is a good fit for your style?

  • Look at other artists on the internet eg: Behance, Pinterest, Instagram and look at the hashtags that they use. Try #australianillustrator and many others


  • Does your work have an energy, ideas, freshness?

  • Do you have an interesting use of media?

  • Maybe you show unusual concepts?

  • Is it expressive?

  • How can I create my own interesting voice?

  • Sometimes finding your voice can be tricky. Before we become lost in how to make art, focus on storytelling first - can you tell a good visual story?

  • Then work out what your other passion is and improve your skills in that area… eg:

  • Line and form?

  • Light?

  • Colour?

  • Pattern?

  • Media?

  • Character?

  • Setting?


  • Same as any other profession.

  • Can you deliver on time and to specifications?

  • Can you follow a brief?

  • Be professional and collaborative. Open and dependable and flexible.


  • Only show your strongest work

  • Does it show the above 6 topics? Does it show the depth of your capabilty?


There is no cookie cutter answer - we’ll know it when we see it!

Watch the above video for the main takeaway moments of this session.

I really appreciated Sarah’s insightful break down into topics that we could focus on. I also really appreciated the encouragement Sarah gave to us all - one of them being this wonderful statement ….


I love this. It elevates us from just making pictures. It lifts our gaze. It calls us to focus on story.

And the other statement…

…there is room for everyone.

This is so true. Just look at all the different art styles that shine in loved books all over the world.

As a fellow visual storyteller, growing, learning, trying to improve… I hope this report helps you grow and I wish you all the best!

Make the art that moves you

then make the visual stories

that move us all.

by Giuseppe Poli