I purchased a copy of Maya at the 2016 Toronto Word on the Street festival
We tend to think of illustration as something involving lines drawn on a piece of paper. But in the case of Elly MacKay’s work, there is something a lot more. She works with light, paper and photography, which creates images that draws anyone in. MacKay recently illustrated the book Maya (which just has become one of a favourite item of people who visit my library) and answered a few questions for me – ‘illustrating’ how she creates her works.
1) How long did it to create the images in “Maya?” How did you get involved with the book?
2) How did you get started in illustration?
3) Are there any illustrators that you admire? If yes, who are they and why do you admire them?
4) You seem to have a complex technique to the creation of your images – starting with the use of paper to the lighting right up to the photography of the whole illustration. Did it take you long to learn all those skills and bring them all together? Do you have an all-time favourite illustration that you created?
5) How does the public react to your illustrations? Is there any memorable reaction to something you have created you care to share?
I always love showing the process I use to children. We make a little world together and turn out the lights. When I light the theatre, they all get so excited. I love that.
6) Do you get a chance to travel and speak about your work? If yes, is it something you enjoy doing?
Yes, I really love doing school visits and writers festivals. I have a bachelor of education that I don’t get to use, so getting a chance to work with kids is always something I really enjoy.
7) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you care to share?
I am working on a book called Waltz of the Snowﬂakes for Running Press right now. It is a wordless picture book that celebrates the colour and life that music and dance can bring to a dreary day. It will be out in Fall 2017. (Link to Running Press’ webpage for Waltz of the Snowflakes) I am also working on one for Tundra that is built from old weather sayings. It is called Red Sky at Night.
8) You seem to have an avid presence on both Facebook and Twitter. How do you like being on those platforms in relation to you work?
I like seeing what others are working on through Twitter and Facebook. Facebook has been great for sharing and getting some feedback too.
9) Your online biography has you listed as living in Owen Sound, Ontario. How do you like living there? Are there any aspects to the Owen Sound region that particularly inspire you in your work?
It is a great place to live. We have rocky beaches, sandy beaches, hiking trails/ski trails, and waterfalls all nearby and a great community of like-minded people here. It has a concert hall that brings in bands, an art gallery, wonderful library, artist co-op and a forest school that just opened. It is also affordable to buy a home here. I feel like the spokesperson for this town… But I really do love it. And yes… This place, especially the land half an hour north of Owen Sound, where I grew up is my constant source of inspiration.
Link to my Q&A with Maya’s author Mahak Jain -“I wanted to write about a world where animals as different as the peacock, monkey, elephant, tiger, and snake would find themselves gathered around a banyan tree. Maya’s story emerged from that dream.”