Interview with Corrina Holyoake, Illustrator and Author of Animania

meCorrina Holyoake is an artist and illustrator based in coastal West Sussex in the U.K. A person perusing her portfolio quickly realizes, however, that her art partakes of a much wider and diverse world.

She paints mesmerizing treescapes that have elements of impressionist and colorist works and creates decorative art that at times reminds us of Australian aboriginal dot paintings. Among her subjects are sea turtles, meerkats, giraffes, fallen angels and trees – a lot of trees. Then she is also the illustrator of children’s books, overseer of warm, sometimes fuzzy characters that make us smile and chuckle.

Corrina’s style is one that is difficult to generalize. Perhaps it’s because there are many styles reflecting not only diverse influences in her life (a childhood in Africa or travels in Australia, for example) but also an openness to experiment. Whether it is in the use of colors or experiments with bl10new mediums or styles, she has that artistic capacity to create images that allow us to see the world from a new and unique angle. Her art always seems to give the humdrum a new twist.

Corrina Holyoake’s latest project, an illustrated alphabet book titled Animania, is a perfect example of the humdrum given a refreshing turn. It introduces us to a host of fun and wacky characters that, likely as not, you will not have met in an alphabet book (or I suppose anywhere else since they are not the sort that tarry along roadsides or fields or bird feeders and such). If you believe that “A” is for “apple” you will have to think again. (We review Animania separately on our site here.)

We are delighted today to have Corrina join us to chat a little about Animania, her artwork and her venture into authoring, illustrating and publishing her own children’s book.

Thank you Corrina for taking the time!

NS: First, can you tell us a little about Animania? How did the idea come about? What was the inspiration for it?

animaniaCH: Animania is an animal alphabet book with a twist, the twist being that these are not your ordinary animals! The original concept was my son Dylan’s idea. We were having one of our nonsense chats on the way to school, discussing what animals we could make up by mixing them together, and what we could call them. We came up with such characters as the Prickly Python, Antosaurus and Kissies. A little light bulb switched on flashing “picture book” and Animania was born.

NS: Did you always have an alphabet book in mind for these characters? Have you thought about one or more of these characters having their own stories or adventures that might make up a separate book?

CH: No, it didn’t start off as an alphabet book. Originally I was going to write a story based on the concept of mixing animals up, but after doing some research I noticed that there was already a book out on the market like that…typical! So I changed the idea and thought I would make it into a fun educational tool by turning it into an alphabet book with a twist. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I much prefer this concept.

I have had many people say that the characters should have their own book, and it is something I am thinking about. However the thought of producing 26 books is a tad overwhelming right now. Once things calm down, and I have time to play with it again, I shall certainly put my thinking cap on … so watch this space.

MINIPHANT600NS: One of our favorite characters is the Miniphant, the mini elephant with wings who spends her time watering flowers and giving bees their weekly showers. Could you tell us how the Miniphant came to be?

CH: I have a soft spot for that one too. She evolved pretty much the same way as all of the others. It was a case of sitting down and thinking of a ridiculous animal first, and then trying to find words that flowed the best with each other in terms of rhyme. I had no idea what the characters were going to look like, so it wasn’t a case of matching the words with a character I had in mind. It was more, make up an animal that I thought had a memorable name, and that kids could relate to, and then trying to make the verse as fun and catchy as possible.

NS: What was more fun for you to do – the illustrations or the word rhymes?

CH: That is a tricky one, I would say the writing. That is purely because it wasn’t as time consuming.I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found the rhyming came naturally and much easier than I thought it would. My first love will always be art and illustrating, but to fully illustrate 26 characters kissiesdoes take quite a while and can be quite stressful towards the end so the instant rush from the writing was more enjoyable.

NS: You are an illustrator and an artist and I know you’ve worked on illustrations for other authors’ books. How does working on your own book compare to the artwork that you’ve done in the past? What did you enjoy? What has been challenging?

CH: Yes, I have worked on a few books for other authors now and the big difference with this is that I have had full control of the layout. I have always wanted to work on a picture book where I was in control of how the finished product would look.

The easiest thing is that I was in full control, so if ideas weren’t working out or animals didn’t look like they should then I could completely change things if needed. There was no middle man asking that I do things in a certain way – it was my baby and I could cut and change things as much as I wanted.

electroshellThe most enjoyable part of the experience was seeing the book come to life. I will never forget my daughter’s face when she saw the first print proof, it was like she was opening a Christmas present. Her little face lit up as soon as she saw it, and she kept reading out the dedication page because she is mentioned in it. That reaction has already made the book a success in my eyes – if anything else happens then that’s just an added bonus. I hope other children will enjoy it too, so being able to share it with everyone is the most enjoyable part for me.

The most challenging part…. marketing and creating the eBook and print. I decided to self-publish this in the end, and it has been a huge learning curve!. I never thought I would say this, but the words and pictures were the easy part. Getting it out there is a whole different ball game! It is fun though, and I have some fantastic support behind it, but rest assured it’s no picnic that’s for sure. I take my hat off to all indie authors out there for the sheer hard work and dedication that goes into getting a book into the public domain. I have to take this opportunity to say thank you to you, and others like you that help us all make our dreams come true by supporting what we do.

NS: You’re quite welcome, Corrina. We like to publicize good talent. Now, we understand that Animania is a sponsor of Critterish Allsorts. Can you tell us about Critterish Allsorts and what that partnership means?

CH: Critterish Allsorts is the number one independent animal education and animal-assisted therapy (pet therapy) resource in the U.K. They have worked alongside psychotherapists, psychologists and occupational therapists, to make a difference to the mental well being of patients suffering from critterish-allsortsgeckodisorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, paranoia, etc. They also work with and help many individuals on the autistic spectrum and children with behavioral issues. On top of this they also do school visits to help educate children about animals and the importance of pet therapy.I stumbled across Critterish Allsorts via Twitter last year, and it was after I watched a tv documentary based on one of Dale’s visits to a nursing home that I really understood the healing power of pet therapy. I was so touched to see the joy that his visit and the animals bought to these people. Their faces literally lit up as soon as they held the animals, it was so lovely to watch. I have since been following his work and I think what he does and what his organization stands for needs to be shared with as many people as possible so I wanted to help.

I have always wanted to do something worthwhile with my art so when I decided to self-publish Animania I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to give a little back through my work. So I decided to sponsor them and I will be donating a percentage of my royalties to them. I am also working with their other outlet, Success Skunks, and helping with artwork for their pages to help inspire children worldwide to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

NS: Any exciting projects that you are working on now or have in mind for the near future?

CH: Gosh, I haven’t had time to even think about future projects. Right now I am still at the beginning stages of marketing Animania, so that is taking up all of my free time. There is quite a lot going on over the next few months relating to Animania so I would imagine new projects won’t be thought of until winter. I am working on a colouring book next where kids have the chance to colour in their own copy of Animania, and I am hoping to get that published for my school visit in October. Once Animania calms down then I will think about the next book. It will tie in with Animania, but how is something I have yet to figure out. I am hoping this is the start of many more silly books.

{This interview was conducted for Inkspokes by Nelson Suit.}

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corrinaholyoakeMore information about Corrina Holyoake‘s artwork, illustrations and Animania may be found on her art website and her children’s illustration website. You may also follow Corrina via her blog and Twitter and Facebook pages.

Animania may be purchased via Amazon UK (Print |eBook) and Amazon U.S (Print | eBook). Animania also has its own Facebook page.


  1 comment for “Interview with Corrina Holyoake, Illustrator and Author of Animania

  1. robin
    August 10, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Love her color palette. And how great a self-portrait is that with the mice?? 😀

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