This week was the release of our first picture book Donald Doing’s House of Verbs. Here’s an interview with one of the illustrators on the project Cody McGrath.

ME: How did you get into illustrating for children?

CODY: Well, all of my life I have grown up constantly watching cartoons and playing videogames so naturally I have always been inspired to work in the animation or games industry.
My style always has always been an exaggerated, colourful cartoony style so after posting some of my illustrations on Facebook, my cousin in Canada referred me to her friend who was looking for someone to illustrate a children’s book called ‘Pepper’.  So I sent some sample drawings of the main character to them and the author really loved what I did. So from then, I went on to illustrate the children’s book Pepper by Danielle Findlay and Dear Bully of Mine by Vicki Frasier. Now I have also done Donald Doing’s House of Verbs as well, and hopefully more to come!

ME: What were some of the challenges working on Donald Doing?

CODY: Myself hahaha. But seriously I really loved how unique and quirky the story was and I was super excited to work on it. I guess the challenges for me was just becoming comfortable with constantly learning new things and also learning to push my style further in order to match the wacky nature of the story and characters. But after finishing the book I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my capabilities.

ME: How did you come up with the visual style for Donald Doing?

CODY: For Donald Doing’s House of Verbs, I really wanted to do an original style that would not just be like most other kids books. I made sure that each character was very unique from one another so they were easily recognisable. For example I made both the male characters opposite in appearance from one another. Donald, being very tall and lanky, while Mr Neverthere is very round and stubby. Also similarly with the female characters, Delly Dranger is very tall and her silhouette is quite triangular and sharp. And Nora Noisler has a large round head to emphasise her LOUD nature. SO I made sure that the shapes and colours in the book emitted the emotion associated with the character or background.  I also draw a lot of my style from memories, so each character is loosely based on a real life person, I believe this adds to the believability of the characters.

ME: Who (or what)  inspires you?

CODY: What inspires me the most is real life. Just walking around and seeing people and nature is where I get most of my creative energy from. I haven’t drawn someone else’s drawing in years because I personally believe that drawing and interpreting from real life or photos allows for much more originality. Although undoubtedly I am also very influenced by both western cartoons, comics and Japanese anime and manga as I grew up obsessed with them, and I still am!

ME: Have you got any golden rules for illustrators?

CODY: My golden rule is to throw all the rules OUT THE WINDOW!!! I just feel like there’s so many new ways art has yet to be explored. Although if I had to give one tip of advice, I’d recommend illustrators draw and visualise their emotions into their artworks, but you don’t even have to do that, just do what YOU believe in and what YOU WANT!  It’s your life, who cares what society or others think.

ME: Have you got any upcoming projects that you’re excited about? (any sneak previews)

CODY: I have a lot of projects I plan on working on. At the moment I am working on a short animated film called ‘Follow’ which is based on my life story. I am also currently working on a promotional illustration for The State Library of Queensland. Here are some backgrounds and screenshots of my animated film Follow.

You can find more about Cody at:
and as if that’s not enough, he also makes music!