This week saw the publication of the first book by Nottingham-based freelance illustrator Nicola L. Robinson, entitled The Monster Machine. The book, aimed at young children, tells the story of a young boy and his dad, and their monster-making machine and is chock full of crazy, colourful (but rather cute!) monsters.
We caught up with Nicola to ask her a few questions about her illustration and her inspiration for her monsters…
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a freelance illustrator and have been since I graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Cardiff school of Art and Design. I moved to Nottingham a few years ago, and have settled here with my partner Gareth. I love Nottingham, it’s a fantastic city.
I am a huge fan of Tom Waits, and love blues music. I also love cooking and grow garlic and habanero chillies.
And I don’t have any pets, but I do have bonsai trees.
What sort of illustration work do you do?
I enjoy working freelance, and my work to date has included illustration and design work for the brewery industry, logo design, concept art for animation, illustration for academic journals and bespoke commissioned drawings and paintings. However it is my work for children’s books which has really engaged me and this forms the majority of my work now.
What made you decide to write a children’s book of your own?
My children’s book work has covered book covers, interior illustrations and pop up work, mostly for a slightly older audience, however I have always loved picture books, and have wanted to illustrate one for some time, but the opportunity had not arisen.
So I decided to write one for myself. The Monster Machine started as a drawing of a machine, with pipes and wires and other Heath Robinson contraptions (no relation as far as I know!) and developed from there. It was clearly a monster making machine.
The book itself is about a small boy and his Dad who is an inventor who builds ‘The Monster Machine’ and their subsequent adventure with the Monsters.
Where did you get your inspiration for your monsters?
I have always loved drawing things with teeth and claws, as a child I would pore over images of snakes and crocodiles and loved dragons. So the monsters really arrived fairly easily, although the majority of them are hairy rather than scaly. I had to work with my young audience in mind so I’ve drawn them as fairly cute, but I hope with individual characters and attitudes. The wonderful thing about monsters is that there is no preconceived image of what they look like so you really are free to experiment with them.
It is the first book I have written and it is lovely to be an author. I am still enjoying the novelty!
I would love to write another one.
The Monster Machine, published by Pavilion Children’s Books, is available at Waterstones on Bridlesmith Gate, and is also available to buy online. Nicola has also created a Monster Machine website, where you can find out more about the monsters.