Interview with Illustrator, Liz Anelli

Liz Anelli Illustrator profile photo
Liz Anelli

About Liz Anelli

When she lived in England, Liz had a job dusting dinosaurs at London’s Natural History Museum. Now she illustrates picture books and junior fiction and has collected numerous short-listings and awards. Liz likes to mix up the media  – weaving collage and printmaking with found objects into her detail-packed pages. In between books Liz explores the Newcastle suburbs by bicycle and creates quirky illustrated maps that she sells on-line and in Newcastle shops.

Liz loves engaging with audiences and regularly presents at festivals, libraries and schools. She organized NSW ‘The Big Draw’ events from 2013 – 2016. Liz is a Board Director of Australia Society of Authors, Ambassador for Books in Homes and reviews picture books for CBCA Reading Time. She is represented by Fiona Kenshole at Transatlantic Literary Agency USA and by The Children’s Bookshop &  Speakers Ink Speakers Agencies.

Up-coming books are Old Fellow , Song of the White Ibis and ‘From Seed to Sky’

Interview with Liz Anelli

Andrew Dittmer: Hi Liz, welcome to the blog! As we’ve just read from the introduction, we know you’ve created art for a ton of beautiful kids books and plenty more on the way. When was the first time you decided you wanted to be a children’s book illustrator and when did you realise you could actually do it for real?

Liz Anelli: I always loved drawing and liked the idea of graphic design because it’s about working in teams as well as having something personally visual to say. So after High School (in the UK) I took the (then compulsory) 1 year General Art Foundation Course at my local technical college and then a 3 year Graphic Design Degree with Honours. I specialised in the Illustration elective with a tutor who was a successful children’s book illustrator and this really lit my fuse.

My final year project was to write and illustrate a picture book and this got published by Macdonald (who then became Simon and Schuster). It wasn’t plain sailing after that as I was terribly business un-savy and dropped several great opportunities… but its all ok now. I did a few other jobs: picking apples, designing magazines, my favourite was looking after the dinosaurs at London’s Natural History Museum.


Andrew Dittmer: Nice! I read on your website that when you were little, you would lie on the dining room floor drawing epic horse adventures. Can you tell us of some of those adventures or what drew you to those adventures?

Liz Anelli: It was nearly always about horses. I desperately wanted pony riding lessons but we couldn’t afford them so i drew my own pony stories instead. I drew tiny stick people and creatures and covered the backs of sheets and sheets of dad’s old engineering plans with their exploits.


Andrew Dittmer: Is there anything in particular that you would love to draw in a kid’s book one day?

Liz Anelli: Big machinery, cut away house interiors, in fact – the insides of anything with stupidly vast differences in scale between the setting and the characters.


Andrew Dittmer: Ooh, that sounds really cool! Congratulations on your picture book with Pamela Freeman, Dry to Dry which has been shortlisted in the 2021 CBCA Eva Pownall Award! Can you tell us about Dry to Dry?

Liz Anelli: Thank you! It is the circular story of the six seasons of Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory. Its the latest in the best-selling Non-fiction Nature Storybook Series for Walker Books Australia (find out more here: https://mailchi.mp/walkerbooks/nature-storybooks)

Kakadu sketchbook.
Making lillies – Liz Anelli
Liz Anelli - Night page studio layout
Liz Anelli – Night page studio layout.

Andrew Dittmer: Is there any part of your illustration process that might surprise people?

Liz Anelli: It takes a very long time! And I always go to the places I illustrate.

Liz Anelli, sketching kit
Liz Anelli’s sketching kit.

My first passion is drawing so that under-pins everything. Before starting on a storyboard I spend a few weeks out research drawing the subject matter and environment and experimenting. I use the media that seems right for the book. Some books have mono-print lines as I love their crumbly texture. Other books (such as the Nature Story Series) have a lot of painting in them and there is always a fair bit of collage. These days I have arthritis in my hands so don’t cut and stick as much. All the elements are brought together and orchestrated in Photoshop … which takes days and days.

You can view some of my process in action at this site.

Liz Anelli with her illustration roughs.
Liz Anelli with her illustration roughs.

Also if you come to the Dry to Dry Exhibition opening in the Lovett gallery, Newcastle Library on Laman Street at the beginning of July we are incorporating a great education project with local High Schools partnering with the University of Newcastle, School of Creative Industries. They are producing some short animations based on my illustrations and their own backgrounds using time lapse photography. Included in the presentation showreel will be some video footage of me demonstrating various paint and collage techniques. The exhibition runs until mid August. (Dates to be confirmed)


Andrew Dittmer: That sounds great! How can people find more about you and your books?

Liz Anelli: Please take a look at my website. I post lots of research drawings and process on my Instagram feed.

Most of my books are published by Walker Books so you can find all those books here:


I’d like to thank Liz for joining us on the blog! It was truly a pleasure! Head on over to Liz Anelli’s website to discover more.

Thanks for reading the blog! I’d love you to hang around a bit longer 🙂 Why not try:

More children’s book creator interviews.
Kids book reviews.

Andrew Dittmer

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