Interview with illustrator Kate Baylay
Posted on by Niall

Our friends at Cittagazze have interviewed Kate Baylay, illustrator of the wonderful new Everyman’s Library edition of His Dark Materials, and have kindly allowed us to share this interview in English.



CITTAGAZZE.COM interviews KATE BAYLAY, illustrator,
January 2012

Kate Baylay is 22. She obtained an illustration degree this July at the University of the West of England, in Bristol. She recently created the cover for the new UK and US  edition of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, her first commissioned work. She kindly agreed to answer our questions, sent by e-mail.


How long have you been drawing? When did you decide to become a professional illustrator?

K. Baylay: I have always enjoyed drawing very much. While I was taking art at sixth form I decided to study illustration at University and ever since then I knew I wanted to be an illustrator.

What is the difference between drawing for pleasure and for professional purposes?

K. Baylay: The main difference is that when I am drawing for professional purposes I have to find inspiration from subjects chosen by other people. When I draw for pleasure I choose my favourite books and stories . I was very lucky with the His Dark Materials cover because I found the books so interesting and inspiring, it was a very enjoyable project.

Do you exclusively illustrate or do you work in other fields as well?

K. Baylay: Illustration interests me the most and it is the area of art I’m best at so I mainly draw for illustration.

How do you work? What are your tools and how long does it usually take to complete a drawing?

K. Baylay: I do the line drawing by hand and then scan it in with different painted textures and complete it on photoshop. Depending on the piece of work it usually takes me a couple of days to finish it.


How did you get involved on the His Dark Materials project?

K. Baylay: I showed samples of my work to Everyman and they told me that this project was coming up. Naturally I was very interested in pursuing the chance to do the cover illustration so I submitted some ideas.

Do you read a book differently when you have to illustrate it?

K. Baylay: I find that I always visualize books and stories when I’m reading them and often feel inspired to illustrate them even if that wasn’t my purpose in reading it.

How did you create this cover? What were your choices to translate the content of the trilogy into images?

K. Baylay: I thought Iorek Byrnison was such a central and arresting character I immediately felt inspired to make him the main focus of my illustration. I wanted to have the pivotal characters represented by their daemons because I found them such an interesting concept and the church was to represent the religious themes in the

Did the publisher make any comment on the work you submitted? Was there any modification required?

K. Baylay: There were a few changes I needed to make and I had to submit a few ideas before the final illustration was accepted.

For His Dark Materials and for Roald Dahl’s Completely Unexpected Tales, you created a cover with animals rather than humans. Was it a deliberate choice?

K. Baylay: For the His Dark Materials cover I focussed on animals because they have such a large role in the books as the daemons all have animal forms. I found the idea that the form of each daemon reflected the personalities of their people very interesting.

What do you feel when seeing your own work on bookstore shelves?

K. Baylay: It’s very exciting! Particularly as Philip Pullman is such a well known and respected author, I feel very proud to have my illustration on the cover of his book.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?

K. Baylay: I am currently working on a new project and hope to get more commissions for book illustrations.

Thanks to Kate for her answers, we wish her all the best for her career.  You can find out more about Kate Baylay’s work and order art prints on her website:

This entry was posted in Interviews, The Book Trilogy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Interview with illustrator Kate Baylay

  1. Marshfire says:

    Really great to read this. Thank you CITTAGAZZE.COM & Kate Baylay what an amazing thing to have published!

  2. Peter says:

    That is a simply wonderful Mrs Coulter!