Meet the artist behind these gorgeous natural history notebooks

By Australian Geographic 5 April 2019
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This one is for all the marine, bird and floral lovers out there!

HAVE YOU SEEN Australian Geographic‘s new notebook sets? Well, they were illustrated by New Zealand-based artist Kimberly Andrews. Whether you’re a bird, ocean or floral lover, we have something for you.

Here, we chat to Kimberly about illustrating the natural world and working with Australian Geographic.

Bird, marine and floral. You can purchase them HERE.

When did you first get into illustration?

I have been drawing and painting since I can remember as my mum is an artist and exposed us to creativity from the get go. I got into illustration seriously at university where I studied biology, geology and eventually a masters thesis in geochemistry and meteorites. I found illustrating major concepts such as the formation of the solar system much easier than trying to explain them using words! This was the first time I had used digital illustration and I really loved it.

What are you favourite animals to illustrate?

Mostly birds! I love the contrast of a shiny beak and a feathery body, and there are so many possibilities with flying, perching, preening, swimming, etc.

What was your favourite project?

My favourite project so far has to be my very own picture book that I both illustrated and wrote – Puffin the Architect. It combined my love of puffins and my obsession with tiny homes and architecture. I always adored books with cross sections as a child, so I loved being able to create my own immersive world where Puffin lives! It has been incredibly rewarding being able to engage with young readers and also to see the book honoured with numerous awards.

What was the process for illustrating the AG notebooks and cups?

I began researching Australian species and talking to my husband (originally from Australia) about what species I should include. I knew I wanted to illustrate birds as they are so colourful and gorgeous. After discussion with the team at Aus Geo, we decided that a two-pack model would work well and we went with three 2-pack themes: birds, botanicals and ocean.

After making an extensive list of species that I wanted to paint, I got this approved by Aus Geo and then I was off!
My process is fully digital, using a Wacom Cintiq tablet and photoshop. I begin a sketch and then when I’m happy, I use a digital ‘watercolour’.

Lastly I use adjustment layers to add both shading and light. I then had about eight paintings per design that I arranged on a new document in the pattern that will show on the cover. This is one of the hardest bits, as it’s like a jigsaw puzzle to get all the species to work well together. It usually involves a lot of resizing and rotating to make a pleasing pattern. Then this is all sent to the printers who then print and bind the notebooks or make the cups.

What was your favourite design out of this collection?

My favourite is the beach design with all the shells, seahorses and other beach creatures. I love how the shells have a shine to them and the warm colour palette – I would like wallpaper of this pattern!

How do you incorporate conservation into your work?

I am the lead designer and owner of Tumbleweed Tees, which is a NZ-based design company working to bring awareness and funding to conservation projects around NZ. Designs are linked with a relevant community or nationwide project, and every time an adult t-shirt sells, $5 is donated to that project. We also have species cards that are included with every item sold to help spread awareness and pride for our special animals and flora.

Subscribe to Issue 149 of the journal and receive a notebook set for FREE.

Issue 149 on sale now