Laura Watson - Illustrator

Laura Watson

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

November 25th, 1968.

Where do you live now?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

What is your favorite book?
Curious George Goes to the Hospital, by Margaret & H.A. Rey.

What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
Designing a world that's like the real world but just a little bit “off”!

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Always look around, wherever you are, and pay attention to what you see in the world around you --- colors, light, shapes --- everything you see can find its way into what you create.

Do you have any pets?
No pets, but I frequently spend time with my sister's dog, who's a Chihuahua/terrier mix.

What is your favorite food?
Tomato sandwiches.

What are your hobbies?
Cycling (long distance trips, with camping gear), running, movies, reading, painting, photography.

When did you start drawing?
Probably before I started talking

What was your training or schooling?
Did a degree in Fine Arts from York University, then a diploma in illustration from Sheridan College, in Ontario.

How did you get involved with children's books?
I sent a self-published mini-book of “The Little Red Hen” to Kids Can (and other publishers), Kids Can was the first to call and offer me a contract.

What materials do you work with? What is the difference between different materials?
Mainly I use acrylic paint, on gessoed illustration board. Sometimes I work on wood, using a wood-burning pen to create outlines, and watered down acrylic to stain the wood.

What is your favorite movie?
The Wizard of Oz.

Where do you work?
In a little alcove in my apartment, with a window looking out on my garden.

How do you research or create your illustrations?
As far as research goes, I'm really lucky --- my mom just retired from teaching kindergarten and donated her huge collection of photos of animals and people to me. So I have pictures of every animal you could think of, in super-organized files.

Where do you get your ideas?
From places I've been, things I've seen. Movies, TV, people I talk to.

What's your greatest childhood memory?
Summer nights, running around barefoot on the neighborhood lawns, the smell of grass and going to bed when it was not quite dark.

What is your favorite animal?
The elephant.

When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher or a gymnast.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I used to build and paint birdhouses and travel to various summer festivals and craft shows to sell them. I also worked as a costumed guide in a pioneer village...sometimes I was the teacher, the church organist, or a housewife --- but the best was working in the print shop!

What is your next project?
At the moment I'm working on another book for Kids Can Press, called Making Shadow Puppets.

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
I don't think the Ugly Duckling is ugly at all --- just different. The cat in “The Little Red Hen” looks a bit sneaky and ill-tempered, and I didn't realize until after I was finished it that it's actually a cat my family had until a couple of years ago --- in appearance and personality. Her name was Jasmine, and she was a bit of a character, to say the least.

For more information about Laura Watson, take a look at her Web site at

Making Shadow Puppets

2003 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2003 - Parents' Choice Approved Award, Winner