There are many strings to Nancy Bevington’s creative bow…having worked for many years as an Art Director and owned her own advertising and design agency, illustrating children’s books is also a passion. Just in time for the festive season, Nancy has completed the beautifully illustrated The Aussie ABC Christmas, which the youngsters in your family will simply adore!
Hi Nancy. What’s your relationship with the Greater Port Macquarie area?
We emigrated as a family from Bermuda to Port Macquarie in the early 1970s. I went to Port Macquarie High School until the age of 16, which is when I left and moved to Newcastle to further my art training.
My family have lived and worked in the area since arriving here all those years ago, so I have always been drawn back to this beautiful part of the world. In fact, when my husband and I returned from living in the UK in 1989, we lived here for a short while before moving to Sydney.
Run us through a brief synopsis of your career in the design/advertising industries, as you’ve worked in a variety of roles.
When I graduated from my Fine Art Diploma in 1978, I decided to move to London. It was very hard at first, as jobs were not plentiful, but I kept making appointments and lugging my portfolio around the city and finally landed a job as a visualiser in one of the top 10 advertising agencies in London. It was a steep learning curve, but with the help of my two colleagues I mastered the techniques of drawing the advertisements and TV storyboards that the art directors threw at us.
I spent four years in the studio, but I always knew art direction was where I wanted to be. I applied to become an Art Director at the agency and was teamed up with a copywriter. I had an amazing six years, creating ads, TV commercials and POS for some major international blue chip brands.
After 10 years living and working in London, my husband and I decided to move to Australia. We came back to Port Macquarie for a while and worked on freelance projects for local companies.
After a year we missed the buzz of the city, so decided to move to Sydney and opened our own advertising and design agency. I worked as Creative Director, he as Managing Director.
We owned the business for 17 years, and during that time worked with some boutique and major brands such as Akubra, Unilever, Sony Ericsson, Boral, Yates, to name a few.
Tell us a little more about Dragonfly Days Design, one of your latest ventures. What does it specialise in?
Dragonfly Days Design came about while I was working on ideas for a new children’s book. I thought it would be wonderful to create whimsical images that could be personalised to celebrate a special date in a child’s life, such as their birth or birthday.
If you visit my Dragonfly Days Design website, you will discover not just my personalised prints, but also my children’s books, paintings and other illustrations.
You’re also well known as an illustrator of children’s books, including the Mad Dog the Chef, and Zen Tails series. What mediums do you generally use to create illustrations for children’s books … and does digital design also play a role here?
Apart from the commercial side of my work, I have always been interested in illustration and painting and while my day job was full on with our ad agency in Sydney, I always found time to come up with ideas and illustrations for children’s books.
I was fortunate to be introduced to Peter and Sophia Whitfield, the owners of New Frontier, who published my first series, called Mad Dog the Chef. The Zen Tails series came shortly after. Peter asked me if I would create the characters and illustrate three books in the series, which was great fun. Over the next few years, two more books were added to the series, plus a collection of board books.
That was my first foray into the amazing world of children’s book illustration and publishing. Since then I have had many other wonderful commissions from a variety of publishers, one of the latest being The Aussie ABC Christmas.
The process of creating goes through quite a few stages. From the initial brief I work up character studies in pencil. I then produce a pencil storyboard, or rough mock up of the entire book. Once I have the concept and characters agreed, I complete a couple of double pages in colour. I work mostly in gouache paint on watercolour paper and then scan the illustrations, finally finishing them using various computer techniques.
Your latest book release is The Aussie ABC Christmas – a beautifully illustrated book for two – four year olds. How did you come up with the concept for this book?
Sophia from New Frontier contacted me and asked if I would like to illustrate an Australian Christmas ABC book. We bounced ideas back and forth and agreed on the concepts for the 26 letters. I wanted the illustrations to a have a festive flavour, but still retain an Australian uniqueness. I think my favourite illustration is the angel with the cork hat!
What do you most love about Christmas in Australia … and how did this inspire the ABC book?
Being close to family, the bright blue skies and sea, the warm relaxed way of life, makes for very different kind of Christmas.
I wanted to capture that in the book. Christmas in colder climates means crackling fires, twinkling lights and traditional decorations. In Australia it is all about summer holidays, family get togethers, playing cricket on the beach. Where else would you find twig Christmas trees, gum leaf wreaths and pavlova instead of Christmas pudding!
Where can we buy a copy of The Aussie ABC Christmas – and your other works too?
You can buy The Aussie ABC Christmas online from New Frontier Publishing www.newfrontier.com.au
It’s also at Book Face Port Macquarie.
Where can we find out more about you and the work you do?
My website is the best place to see most of my work, visit: www.dragonflydaysdesign.com
Interview: Jo Robinson.