The award winning illustrator sat down to talk to us about her inspiration and how she made her books stand out in the adult colouring book craze...
Millie Marotta is definitely a woman to watch. After quitting her job as an art teacher, she designed a colouring book for adults in 2014 and the rest is history. Tapping into the trend well before it exploded, Millie’s captivating colouring books have gone from strength to strength, winning her the Amazon’s bestselling author award of 2015.
Three books down the line, Millie’s success shows no signs of slowing, becoming the new patron of the Born Free Foundation, launching her very own app, and as from today releasing a brand new colouring book: Wild Savannah.
After taking over the Marie Claire Instagram account today and filling it with inspiring images, we caught up with Millie to talk exciting new projects and the thereapeutic benefits of a good old colouring book…
What inspires your illustrations?
The natural world: animals, wildlife and my natural surroundings. I’ve never had to look too far for inspiration because it’s always around me. I live by the sea and I love being in the fresh air. My environment nurtures what I’m doing with my work.
Was illustration always your dream career?
I wanted to be a vet but after realising that I didn’t have the stomach or the emotional stamina for it, creativity it was.
Were you surprised by the overwhelming response to your colouring books?
Oh god, hugely. It swept me off my feet. I just wanted to make a really beautiful book that people would enjoy colouring in, I honestly wasn’t thinking a great deal beyond that.
Why do you think the colouring trend took off to such an extent?
We live such fast-paced busy lives now and we constantly seem to be multitasking. I think colouring books have given adults a really accessible, simple way to unwind, and get a bit of downtime through art therapy.
How do you find colouring beneficial?
It’s relaxing. We all would have done colouring as children but obviously as you get older and become a grown up, other things become more important. The book is just a really nice way for people to find their way back to it.
How has your work held its own and stood out since the trend has exploded?
I think the theme of the books is quite universal: animals, wildlife, and the natural world, and I try hard to offer people images that are sophisticated and beautiful. People really take ownership of them and they take their time and create a beautiful piece of their own artwork.
How long does it take to compile one of your colouring books?
It’s roughly between four and five months. Every single image is hand drawn and I like to research my topic thoroughly, whether that’s from reading books, going on visits or looking through old photos.
Do you ever see the finished work in your books?
There’s a huge community of people on social media sharing all of their coloured in images. I would never think to colour in the way that some people have, they turn the pictures into something of their own. I love seeing that, I think it’s fascinating.
Tell us about your new colouring app
I think it’s fantastic, I do love to hand draw so the app was a real step away from what I’m used to, but I love it. It sounds bizarre but it really does feel like colouring with a pencil. There are so many people out there who really love their digital devices, so I think that it’s brilliant for those people to still be able to enjoy the benefits of colouring.
What can we expect from Wild Savannah?
It’s a collection of animals from all sorts of different savannah regions of the world: Asia, Northern Australia, South America and Africa. It was also quite self-indulgent to be honest, because they’re really fascinating regions, and it was an opportunity for me to spend some time really exploring those habitats and the animals that exist among them.
Tell us about your new role as patron of the Born Free Foundation.
I’ve always been tremendously compassionate about animals and wildlife and I think that it’s wonderful to be in a position where I can further that cause. I’m really looking forward to taking a trip out to Kenya to see their work on the ground. I’d really like to bring art education into the lives of many of the school children over there too, because that’s an area of the curriculum that’s so under-developed. We’re hoping that by doing that, not only will we be allowing the children access to art education, but hopefully they will grow up to have a love and an understanding of the wildlife around them.
Do you have any tips for aspiring illustrators out there?
Find your natural style of working. Do what is honest, and comes naturally to you. Work seems to flow so much better when you’re doing something that’s true to yourself. That’s what you’ll become recognised for.
Millie is currently releasing 250 signed, limited edition prints, sold exclusively by Born Free, to raise funds for the charity. Follow her on Instagram at @milliemarotta