Your Story: Jessie Hadley-Stokes

I was so excited to get an email from Jessie (British Illustrator and Pattern Designer) a few weeks ago and learn that she's been following my blog (wow!) She asked if I could share about her upcoming book release and agreed to an interview. :) You're going to love her.. enjoy!

Tell us a little about your story....
I originally grew up in Skegness, England where I spent a lot of time with my grandma who always had rolls and rolls of paper and a suitcase of crayons handy to keep me busy. We drew and created many things like comic books and board games, in which my brother was never as interested in! My mum encouraged me to keep going with what I loved to do, my father wasn't so supportive and didn't believe that a creative career could be a career. I later relocated to the midlands and attended De Montfort University where I did a Ba(Hons) in Design Crafts. I loved to make things and this gave me opportunity to try so many crafts including glass blowing, screen printing (which I loved) ceramics, metals, jewelry making among other crafts. I decided after making so much for 3 years that I'd prefer to stick with a pen and became an illustrator.

What's it like to be a surface pattern designer? What's your favorite experience?
Surface pattern design is an incredible thing because it's everywhere and you don't even notice. I have a great shop just open on society 6 (accessible through www.jessielouisehadley.co.uk) that shows how surface pattern can make a boring surface become really special. 

How did you get into illustration and kids books? 
When I first decided I wanted to become an illustrator I wasn't quite sure which avenue I wanted to go down. It was suggested to me by a designer I met that children's illustration would suit me. Next thing I knew my boyfriend had a band that contained a lovely writer lady who had had some children's stories for a long time and needed an illustrator, after that it just sort of happened. It was an extremely lucky moment. 

Tell us about your new book series "Flowertasia"..
The Flowertasia stories are designed to help young children to develop good coping strategies and resilience to life’s little niggles. They deal with the issues that a child of early school age could find challenging, or even just plain difficult to get through, especially where children have their first experience of some kind of change or loss.

Some of them could seem trivial in the busy and worrisome life of a parent and carer; and some of them very major indeed and difficult to talk about; so these books are to help you fill that gap sensitively and lovingly. By telling a story with a similar issue, the characters will provide well researched, effective and easy to understand solutions; that will teach children the skills of inclusion, equality, self- confidence, resilience, positive thought, and of course the most important of all… self-esteem!

They will also learn about the flowers and plants that are found in most English gardens and parks; learning their names and understanding just a little bit of character and charm about each one of them. We hope you will both – as readers or listeners - enjoy the positive messages hidden in these up to date stories..

What is your upcoming "Flowertasia" book about?
As Parents and Carers, we don’t like to think that Racism happens to young children, but when it does, what should they do? How can children recognize it and should they try to protect their friends? Are we teaching them about what it is, or are we just hoping that they don't come across it? Perhaps you think that Racism doesn't affect children of 5 to 9 years old? Well actually, yes it is. Learning not to say hurtful things to people and not to judge people based on their skin colour, or hair type, or accent, or clothes, is just as important as teaching children how to share their toys or take turns. 

The third book is all about this issue and deals with it openly and in a way that every child can understand why it is not right, and provides some easy ways for children to make a stand against it with their friends, whether they are the person it was directed at, or not. 

The book will be release very soon! Check www.flowertasia.com regularly for updates!

You're living your childhood dream! What advice would you give my readers who want to do the same?
Ha ha thank you, it's been an awfully hard road so far - as life is! There are a lot of up moments but an awful lot of down moments. My advice would be to find a part time job for some money to keep you going and apply to absolutely everything, go to networking events, visit trade shows so you know what to expect and just stick at it because at times it will get hard. Surround yourself with good people that believe in you and are willing to help you out - those people are invaluable! 

Thanks Jessie! Be sure to check out her website/ blog / & shop!

No comments: