17th September 2019

Illustrator spotlight: Sally Walker

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Illustrator spotlight: Sally Walker

Sally Walker is a graphic designer and illustrator from Suffolk and one of three artists shortlisted for the Templar Illustration Prize. We spoke with Sally about her evolving artistic practice and celebrating the natural world.

Sally Walker had been working as a graphic designer for fifteen years before she decided to take the plunge into illustration. Sally completed the prestigious MA in Children’s Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, finding the work that comes out of the school to be “always exciting, fresh and innovating.” Since starting the MA, Sally has recognised in numerous awards for her illustration, including Picture This, SCBWI Undiscovered Voices and the Tragaluz International Illustration Award. Sally says that “one of the biggest skills I’ve taken from graphic design is composition. Finding the balance in composition within an illustration is key to whether it works or not!”

“Through illustration I found a visual voice and confidence to tell my own stories.”

“I really enjoy the experimental process of illustrating. It’s so refreshing to create with my hands and step away from the computer.” Sally often mixes textures from different stages into her final artwork, using digital techniques to layer and compose the work.

“Through illustration I found a visual voice and confidence to tell my own stories.”

When Sally begun working on her entry to the Templar Illustration Prize, she was inspired by conversations with her young daughter, as well her children’s relationship with their grandparents.

“I have two small children, the youngest just a year old. I love watching how they discover the world – the smallest things, such as a beetle or flower fascinate them.”

In Grandpa’s World, Sally wanted to capture and celebrate her children’s “innocent curiosity about the world we live in” – encouraging readers to notice and celebrate the small details about the natural world in their local environment.

“The story is really my response to the world around us at present. The issues around climate change have had a huge effect on me – we take so much for granted. It’s saddening to think that with the threat of extinction for many species, future generations may not even have the privilege of living alongside them.”

“I have two small children, the youngest just a year old. I love watching how they discover the world – the smallest things, such as a beetle or flower fascinate them.”

The Templar Illustration Prize was launched in 2018 as part of Templar’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The award’s impetus is to discover and foster new illustrative talent, offering a platform for new illustrators to launch successful careers. The winner of the 2019 prize will be announced on 18th September 2019 at Nomad Books in Fulham. Maria Coco, Sally Walker and Paula White have been shortlisted for the 2019 award.