SA Illustrators: Adrie le Roux

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Name: Adrie le Roux

’n Skrikkel/A Leap, by Adrie le Roux


What is your day job?

At the moment I work as a freelance creative. I write a bit, draw a bit, design a bit – I like to think of it as a smorgasbord. (If only I could put that down in the space next to “career” on all my admin forms.)

What road did you follow to launch your career as an illustrator?

I’m not sure exactly when I got “bitten”. I’ve always had a love for picture books, the stories behind an image, and the stories behind the person who created that image. I think illustration was a progression from the fine arts degree that I originally completed.

Have your illustrations been published?

I’ve done illustrations for some educational material, but aside from that haven’t had my personal work published yet. I’m looking into options for two illustrated children’s books at the moment, which I hope will be considered for publication.

What is your preferred medium, and why do you enjoy working in this particular medium?

I work in a variety of mediums, usually a combination of charcoal, acrylic and pencils. I have a particular love for collage, though. There is something unsettling about collage. By its very nature it’s a disruptive art form, removing an image from one context to be used in another.

Are there specific genres or types of texts that you enjoy illustrating?

Kids’ books have so far proved to be the most entertaining.

Who are your illustration heroes? Were your development as an illustrator and your personal style influenced by the work of other illustrators?

Stephen Jorisch’s beautiful, eerie line work in The Jabberwocky and The Owl and the Pussycat; Jon Klaasen’s use of texture and light/dark in his illustrations of characters and landscape; Lauren Child’s collaged children’s books; Edward Gorey’s sense of humour!

Are you an avid reader? Who are your favourite authors?

I do, but my favourite author changes as often as my favourite song. A friend of mine recently introduced me to Nicole Krauss (A History of Love, Man Walks Into a Room). I love her writing and the way she thinks about the process of writing. Audrey Niffenegger is another favourite, not only for her novels, but also for her illustrated books.

What is the one existing text that you would most want to illustrate?

Finuala Dowling’s collection of poems I flying. It already has the most beautiful cover illustration, but I’d love to illustrate a few of the poems.

Which writer, living or dead, would you most like to collaborate with? What would the fictional book be about that you would work on together?

Yann Martel. He has a way of depicting talking animals that makes the concept seem not all that far-fetched. The book would probably include a few “talking dog” conversations.

Do you have an ideal audience/reader in mind when you create an image or a series of illustrations?

Depends what I am working on. I believe that people are going to tell their own stories using your illustrations, despite your best intentions as an illustrator.


Which one of your illustration projects so far stands out as a favourite, and why?

As part of the research I did towards a Masters degree I hosted a reading program in Kayamandi, using wordless picture books. The idea was for children and their parent/caregiver to spend time reading a wordless picture book together, using the pictures to create their own stories. Currently, South Africa does not really have a culture of reading for enjoyment. I hoped that this storytelling process, and the enjoyment that the children and parents got from it, would help to generate a more positive attitude towards books and reading in general (although this research was conducted on a very small scale). I illustrated two of the books used in the reading sessions.

During the interviews conducted after these reading sessions I was given the opportunity to listen to the kids tell me what story they linked to the illustrations, along with exactly what they thought of my books. Needless to say, kids being the honest, straightforward, unfiltered beings that they are, this provided a couple of very good laughs ... along with some invaluable advice from my young, but very wise, audience as to how (and what) I should illustrate in the future. Spending time with the parents and children, who were the target audience for these books, and the opportunity to talk with them about their experience of illustration, books and storytelling, was a truly enriching experience.

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