Dawn Davidson

Introducing Dawn Davidson, featured artists from Mermaids Special (87), Steampunk Special (74) and Halloween Special (66).

Dawn Davidson is a professional illustrator and lover of folklore, fantasy, and classic children’s literature. Drawing heavily from fantasy portraits of friends and family, Dawn Davidson strives to bring diversity into her pages.

How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I have been drawing all my life, but have focused intensely on personal projects for a long time. It was only about five years ago that I put my degree to work professionally, illustrating children's books. Colouring book art began as a side hobby, something my husband and I could pursue together as a way to do something with all the ideas that didn't otherwise have an outlet. We opened our colouring art shop in 2017. 

Where do you get your inspiration?
I do a LOT of pinterest-hopping! Beautiful faces of all ethnic types, fantasy photography. I used to make and sell fantasy jewellery - fairy and mermaid crowns and such - so a lot of my first drawings were directly referenced from the product photos I took of those. I'm all out of them now, so I have to make things up, but I still take a lot of inspiration from that aesthetic. My other loves are folklore and classic children's literature, so elements from my favourite myths and stories show up here and there, though I might be the only one who knows about them. 

Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
The ONLY place I illustrate anymore is at my desktop! I only use paper and pencils when we travel, so I'm stuck working digitally in the middle of my chaotic living room - where my husband is working on the desktop to my right, my kids are probably jumping on couches and watching their 854th episode of Littlest Pet Shop, and my two dogs are scratching at the backdoor constantly. I have a dream of one day having a studio in the eaves of a cottage in the mountains where I can work in total peace with a great view. 

What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
My computer, Cintiq, and imagination. I don't colour, except in 35-year-old books made for children with Crayola crayons, believe it or not! My family used to do that around Christmas, so it's a nostalgia thing I do as a tradition, and it's the same books, so flipping through them and seeing all the pages coloured by family members who are no longer here, or pages I did when I was five or six, is really special to me. But otherwise, I am too restless to colour - always wanting to be off doing my next new project.

What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
In my colouring work, currently I most enjoyed putting together my latest book, Masquerade - it was really fun and interesting coming up with a different type of mask for every page - again, some of them from photos of pieces I had actually made - and I love that it's a consistent theme throughout the book. As far as general art, my favourite project is ongoing - a fully-realised graphic novel adaptation of one of my favourite children's books. It's totally unauthorised fan art, so I can't sell it, but I post it as an online webcomic, and it's so satisfying to make it come to life and hear from other fans about how meaningful it is to them. 

Artist's tip

For colouring tips, goodness, there are scads better colourists out there with their channels and such-all, follow them! My best advice for anyone who wants to do something creative is to just do what you love. Do it for you. I spent way too many years not working on what I wanted, because I was afraid my ideas were silly or childish or not popular enough to succeed - and that was all about what other people thought. Creativity should make you happy.

See more from Dawn Davidson

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