7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #174: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Nicola Killen

h1 July 4th, 2010 by jules

I can hardly believe it’s the first Sunday of July, and I know I probably say that at the start of every month, but how is it that we’re already over the half-way mark of 2010? So wild.

Anyway, the first Sunday of the month at 7-Imp means I highlight a student illustrator or someone otherwise new to the field. This morning, I welcome British illustrator Nicola Killen, whose debut picture book was published in the UK in May of this year and will be published this Fall by Egmont USA. It’s called Not Me!

And Nicola’s here this morning to share some art from it and tell us a bit about her. I haven’t seen the book yet but am very much smitten with her style and look forward to seeing the title. I thank her for stopping by.

* * * * * * *

Nicola: Having worked designing greetings cards for many years, I decided to enroll on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. While on the course, I went to a firework display with some of my classmates, where one of them tried to throw away an unwanted toffee apple. The apple flew away and she was left holding the stick exclaiming, ‘It wasn’t me!’ This incident provided me with the idea for my first book project on the course, Not Me!, where a group of children deny any involvement in incidents around the house, despite evidence to the contrary! On a class trip to the Bologna Book Fair, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to show the project to publishers and was amazed that a couple of them were really interested in the book! After graduation in February 2009, I went straight into working on the art work and, four months later, it was finished. Not Me! was published by Egmont UK on 3rd May this year and will be published in the US in September by Egmont USA.

My master’s project on the course was I Got a Crocodile about the growing friendship between a child and a crocodile. I wanted to make it look different from my previous work, so I took away the linework.


You can see more of the images on my website, nicolakillen.com.

I really enjoy experimenting with different materials and tend to mix different printmaking techniques with elements of collage, sometimes by hand and sometimes digitally. I always carry a notebook with me so that, if I see or hear anything funny, I scribble it down so I don’t forget.

As well as working on my next book (which features a couple of cheeky penguins called Fluff and Billy)…

…I am currently freelancing two days a week in the art department of an animation company, Impossible TV, working on the upcoming series of Gaspard and Lisa from the books by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben.

I try to keep my blog fairly up to date, so please go to nicolakillen.blogspot.com for news updates!

All art work and sketches copyright © 2010 by Nicola Killen. All rights reserved.

* * * * * * *

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New folks are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Hi, everyone. I had yet another week of working, blogging, writing, and just generally trying to keep up. I was super happy that author/illustrator Amy Schwartz stopped by, in particular; I’m happy that my girls are surviving their summer swim class (they weren’t very excited about it, and one is still just tolerating it all); we’re still very much enjoying reading about Peter Pan and mythical sea monsters together (speaking of, anyone else see this?); and I love this Bookshelf Porn (I think I need some shelves this tall), which I saw someone post on Facebook. Oh, and I’ve also very much enjoyed the posted ALA pics of fellow children’s lit bloggers.

How about you all? What are YOUR kicks this week? Anyone around this holiday weekend?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #174: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Nicola Killen”

  1. Good morning, Kickers.

    I really like Nicola’s color palette. And the whole ‘Not Me!’ concept. In fact, I’m going to use it in right now:
    “Who puts her friends’ picture books ‘face out’ at every Barnes & Noble or Borders she visits?”
    “Not me.” (Ha-ha!)

    — Jules, those libraries are just the coolest! Two stories with sliding ladders or with lofts or ornate spiral staircases — bookshelf porn, indeed (though I’m not sure about that garage-door outdoor shelving.)

    My holiday kicks:

    1. I enjoyed two firework shows last night without having to leave my front porch; one fired-off from the beach just to the south, the other, from an ocean barge. The traditional ‘sparkling chrysanthemum’ fireworks are lovely, but I am gobsmacked at the shapes the pyrotechnic wizards can pull off now. Hearts? Happy faces? Cubes! (Can someone explain to me how you control an explosion like it was a sketch pad? I mean, how is that possible?)

    2. Here’s 13 secs. of (slightly out of focus) Hearts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmomKonweVQ&feature=related

    3. And 7 secs. of Happy Faces: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzBodgW3XxE&feature=related

    4. And 27 secs. of cubes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXWUBCtBH_s&feature=related

    I’m still gobsmacked.

    5. Next, I heard this quote as I was walking out of a screening of ‘Eclipse’. “That was just the BEST mediocre movie ever!”

    6. I’m almost satisfied, getting close, with the next 5 stanzas of my picture book. : – )

    7. Anticipating the smell of backyard barbecues ‘round the neighborhood and the BIG firework show at the local high school tonight.

    Happy 4th of July everyone!

  2. Oh cool my boys are going to love Nicola’s book. “Not Me!” is a frequent chorus at our house. I don’t know why I keep asking who did it….

    ALA was awesome, even though I only caught the last 24 hours of the awesomeness. Reading all the blog posts this week is great too. That is one packed in conference! I realize now I only know about 5% of the kidlit world. Huh.

    My kicks:

    1. This is my first ever 4th of July as the mother of an Air Force airman trainee. I am feeling very proud and patriotic even though we miss him terribly. Oldest son went off to Basic Training two weeks ago and as far as we know is doing just fine. I wish I had an Air Force MOM tee shirt to wear to the parade!

    2. Parade today!!! We love the parade!!! Big family & friends group planning to gather in our staked out spot, then hot dogs and all on the deck. Waving flags!!!

    3. Fireworks!!!! My folk’s house is right down the street from one of the best shows in the area. We can sit on the deck or stroll down the street to see the show. Fun!!!

    4. Loving summer this year. Kids love camp and I have time to putter around the garden & work on the house.

    5. – 7. Life is good. In general. YAY!

  3. Not Me! looks so sweet and I love how a couple of the characters are kids of color. :o)

    Happy Fourth of July to all American kickers! I hope you guys have tons of fun celebrating!

    My kicks:

    1. quality time friends
    2. lots of shopping
    3. good graduate classes
    4. reading
    5. learning
    6. my brothers
    7. good food
    8. fighting what is wrong with the status quo

  4. Whoops. That is supposed to be “quality time with friends.”

  5. Not Me! looks adorable. And I like the way Denise took over the plot.

    1. I, too, have been enjoying reading online about ALA and seeing photos of very wonderfully smily book-lovers.

    2. First lake swim of the year: it’s been cool in Mass.

    3. I know I posted orange day lilies last week, but they make every drive so special. Especially when with daisies.

    4. Anniversary of first date with my husband, 28 years ago. We bicycled to a small mountain and climbed it. Boy, we were young and energetic.

    5. Now sitting with him on the porch, with laptops (we sometimes reminisce about older much clunkier computers, not to mention typewriters).

    6. Came up with a good metaphor this morning.

    7. Seeing some end to the hackwork of setting up scenes, to a few soft touches and surprises.

    Happy fourth weekend, everyone! I’ll be the one hiding on the porch, but the company comes Wednesday….

  6. I am on the run this morning in Idaho but wanted to stop by and say Happy Fourth of July!! I think Nicola’s art work is adorable.
    Jules, I love that you are reading the classics to your kids.
    Denise, I think I preferred the movie over the book, Eclipse. I got sooo tired of reading about the lead up to the fight! Team Jacob or Team Edward?
    Andi, how great to go to ALA.
    Tarie, time with friends the best.
    Jeannine, happy first date anniversary, we do that too!
    My kicks this week have been travel, friends and family, especially the addition of Oliver Craig, my great-nephew(although I missed getting to hold him by days.
    Have a great week.

  7. Happy 4th, American kickers! (And a special aw-shucks-we-still-love-you holiday hug to anyone from GB. :))

    Love the premise of Not Me!, and the artwork looks sweet (right down to the stenciled handprints and tire tracks). And I was fascinated by Nicola’s offhand remark about her Master’s project: “…so I took away the linework.” *mental whiplash*

    (Actually, now that I think about it, copies of her book could find their way to certain not-quite-random offices at work. Not that I’d have anything to do with such shenanigans, oh no, not me (he said, balling up the bookstore receipt and swallowing it).)

    I’ve complete empathy for the girls’ feelings about swimming, Jules. Some years after my parents sent me for swimming lessons at the home of an instructor in a neighboring town, that house was leveled to make way for new construction, and the pool filled in. This was about the same time that I learned about the ancient practice of spreading salt on the ground of razed enemy villages, coincidentally; if the place had been within bicycle range of my own home, well…

    And I hadn’t known of that Bookshelf Porn site before. Omigod. I’d never ever be able to pull something like that off here (I think the Kindle gift was meant to short-circuit the possibility) but my gosh

    Denise — the cube fireworks are going to haunt me for a while! (Thanks for the YouTube links: I really couldn’t picture the things.)

    Andromeda, LOVE all your 4th-related kicks. But #5-7? Oh, yeah. Good for you.

    I don’t think you’ve mentioned your brothers martial arts for a while, Tarie. Is that a seasonal thing? Are they (no! no!) growing out of it? And hurray for your bonus kick!

    Jeannine, I am so loving that a good-metaphor discovery made it onto your own list of kicks. (Aside from fellow-feeling as a writer, it confirms for me the feeling that I’m hanging around a good neighborhood here. :))

    “On the run this morning in Idaho”: Jone, to me that feels as exotic an aside as if you’d said you were waiting to catch a yak-drawn bus in Nepal.

    We were in DC for most of the week, Tues.-Fri. So most of my kicks will have to do with that:

    1. Having drinks and dinner with my nephew Chris and his wife, whom we haven’t seen since their wedding a couple years ago. (And even — sort of a mixed kick — realizing that this year he turned the age I was when he was born. Yikes.) Love that kid.

    2. BEAUTIFUL and (for DC) completely uncharacteristic June weather (high of 80 degrees F?!?) while we were up there.

    3. For the first time in my life (how embarrassing to admit this), I rode a rapid-transit train by myself, w/out the company of someone else who already knew how to purchase fares, where to get off, etc. Of course, afterwards I was completely insufferable. OTOH, I think I managed to suggest to The Missus only once that we forego a cab to the airport Friday and take the Metro instead.

    4. The Missus was in DC for work-related training, which filled her days. So I was on my own until 4-5:00. It was wonderful when each day’s session was over, of course, but I must admit I had fun filling the eight hours with whatever-the-heck.

    5. …particularly the four(ish) hours I spent on Thursday in the Library of Congresss. (Talk about bookshelf porn.)

    6. For the notes I knew I’d take during the LoC visit, I bought my first Moleskine notebook. (Stationery porn.)

    7. And, because I HAVE to include a link of some kind (it’s in my contract here), I guess I should mention Horse Boy. Or the bionic cat. Or, oh heck, both of ’em.

    Have a great week, everybody!

  8. Denise, now, I like how you took over the plot, too. Very funny. Is it true this rumor I hear about how Barnes & Noble is getting rid of the picture book section and putting picture books in with the “game” books? That makes me so sad.

    I’ve never seen fireworks like that. Ever. And that movie quote made me laugh outloud. I have not read these books, nor have I seen the movies. One day, I’ll get caught up. I guess I’m a bad librarian. But I’m also a contrarian, and I’ll wait till the rest of the world is done squee’ing over it all.

    Andi, so sorry you miss your son, but I hope you get to talk to him soon. Have too much fun at that parade. I’m glad to hear you’re having a great summer.

    Tarie, you go on with #8. WOOT! You’re a rockstar.

    Jeannine, good to hear you capture a metaphor. And I learned how to type in high school on an electric typewriter. Also, the anniversary of our first date was recently, too. We didn’t climb a mountain, but we did see Planet of the Apes at an old, historic Tennessee movie theater.

    Jone, congrats again on your great-nephew’s arrival! That is fabulous. Happy travelling!

  9. John, do you know we lived briefly (less than half a year) in D.C., and I never once went to the Library of Congress? Horreurs! It was on my to-do list, but I guess the moving-back-to-Tennessee was sort of abrupt. Glad you got to go. Glad you engaged in stationery porn; it’s a good habit, I think. And so lovely that you got to see your nephew. Love that bionic cat and “the key to any great technology is tape”! I think Little Willow needs to see that cat.

    Horse Boy, though, is freaking me right the hell out.

  10. Okay, John, I had to watch Oscar TWICE — and show my girls. Now, Ada wants to meet Oscar.

  11. JES, my brothers still train every day. They are gearing up for several upcoming competitions. Right now they are also doing gymnastics training so that they can do fancier kicks! They are also teaching younger athletes. =D

  12. I loved swimming as a child, Jules, and love it still (not that I swim much over here) but remember there were definitely summers I didn’t feel like lessons so I sympathise with your wee ones.

    I love all the 4th of July kicks. Very exotic! And if I were British I’d thank you for the hug, JES – but I will have to pass it along to my colleague who didn’t know what the 4th July holiday was all about!

    Denise I love backyard BBQ smell! Hope you have a great night.

    JES I travel by all sorts of trains all the time but never get over that proud, self-sufficient state of mind 🙂

    Jone, hurrah for the arrival of your new family member! I’m sure he’ll still be cuddly when you meet him next visit.

    Tarie, love kick number 8! A great life mission.

  13. Woops, pressed enter too early! My kicks:

    1. Two little weasels scampered across the path I was cycling on to work during the week. When I turned and looked backwards I saw them chase each other back across the path again – very cute.
    2. I spoke to my sister and niece on skype this morning, and for the first time the baby seemed to notice the giant head floating around on the computer screen, and looked very perplexed.
    3. New pretty and cheap plants for the pots in the yard
    4. Made simple sugar cookies with lemon glaze during the week (using my new butterfly cookie cutters), and despite the very basic recipe had many compliments (nothing like explaining to someone who loves a glaze that it is made up of icing sugar and lemon juice)
    5. For someone who likes cooking, I’d strangely never made my own pesto until I got a bunch of basil in my veg box. Very yummy, despite the ratio of pine nuts to basil being slightly off. Next vegetable box challenge: use the kohl rabi.
    6. Today’s challenge was cleaning out the bedroom and cupboard, and it didn’t take too long to get it tidy. However, this has meant that the full scale of the number of books hidden in the bedroom has became apparent. I am not sure where to put them seeing as it’s not worth getting another bookshelf at this point (though your bookshelf link doesn’t help me think rationally about this, Jules). Suspect I will have to start my pre-Australia-move weeding early.
    7. I also got lots of washing done and dried this weekend due to the warm and windy weather, including a rug that needs a good half day outside to be dried. A domestic benefit to the lovely weather!

  14. Emmaco, your sugar cookies sound deliciable, as my six-year-old would say. And we are considering making our own pesto for the first time, too, as we have TONS of basil. But I don’t know what kohl rabi is and will have to look that up.

  15. Checking back, seeing your question Jules, I just have to comment:

    Non-kick alert: (what follows is definitely NOT an “Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Thing from the past week” but perhaps worth a passing mention, a tear and a sigh on a blog devoted to recognizing wonderful picture books.)

    Last fall I did a little ‘spotlight author talk’ at SCBWI’s Writer’s Day in Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA. On the same program, one of the main speakers was an articulate gentleman named Mark von Bargen, who is the Director of Children’s Sales at Macmillan. He warned us all about the coming commercialization of shelf-space at major bookstores. This, Jules, is the real shelf porn going on;
    instead of the kidlit bookstore department heads choosing their favorite or the best, noteworthy or even most popular children’s books to display on the main face-out shelves — that space was going to be “leased” to the highest bidders.

    Well, Mr. Von Bargen was a savvy forecaster. Yesterday, at the big B & N in West LA, I went to the children’s section to do my weekly ‘homework’ and was shocked to see — not the latest, greatest picture books, but instead – on the left side of main shelf were 5 tiers of Mad Libs. On the right side. 5 tiers of Dora the Explorer merchandise. On the underneath two levels of shelving (where all the spine-out picture books used to be) were two rows of book-character lunch boxes, Star Wars figurines and sticker books and various games. Only the center column had any picture books, and with such limited shelf-space only Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle and the Fancy Nancy series made appearances (worthy books but not ‘discoveries’ – you all know what I mean.) No NEW or unusual pictures books where showcased. Not one. I was so, so sad about this. And mad. Like Tarie suggests, I was compelled to fight (what will soon be) the status quo. So, yes I DID put up some wonderful picture books over the top of the Libs and Dora – even though I knew they’d be re-shelved with the next shift. (Here comes the quiet tear and a loud sigh.)

  16. SO cute!

  17. Oh Denise, that is so sad. Haven’t seen it with my own eyes yet at the closest B&N. Too scared. I wonder if other big-name bookstores will follow??

    Hi, Kelly!

  18. Denise, Thank you for letting us know about what’s going on with B&N. I would like to have the tools to protest properly.

    We just got done with our Fourth ofJuly party which was a celebration of my husband’s new US citizenship. (Yes, he can finally vote.) It was rainy, so our outdoor “dining room” (i.e. deck with table and chairs) was not in use and everyone squeezed into our little house. I think people had a good time, and this introvert did okay too.

  19. A day late to the party here…I am very confused as to just what day it is but what a nice confusion filled with family and 4th of July celebrations! It’s been a great week, the kicks:
    1. Super kick off of RIF’s Book a Brighter Future campaign with Macy’s in New York City at Books of Wonder with special spokesperson Susan Sarandon. She is SO good with children…told us she was one of 9 in her family!
    2. Thoroughly enjoyed Monday on the exhibit floor of ALA meeting authors with whom I have been tweeting but had never met face to face…a thrill!
    3. Great reception honoring RIF volunteers Monday night with Rosemary Wells giving a rousing early literacy sermone, oops, talk!
    4. The Virginia mountains for three days, oh, so relaxing!
    5. My dad’s decision “on his own” to move from his hometown to an independent living complex…we are so proud of him and so relieved!
    6. My son’s very mature handling of a significant disappointment in a staff member’s move from his group home.
    7. Today – Monday – is an additional day of rest and “catch up”…hope everyone enjoys this day as much as I plan to enjoy! Have a great week.

  20. Farida, sounds like a good time was had. Congrats again to your husband.

    Carol, what a good week! Celebrity-filled. Rockstars of the screen and page. The Virginia mountains sound lovely, too. Enjoy today!

  21. Jes, a day later but I wish I could go to Nepal. Loved the comment.

  22. I’m a year late to this conversation. None of you noted the play Indian on the cover?

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