About

Me in Less Than 60 Seconds…

I am Maxine Lee-Mackie (well hello there), an author illustrator from Liverpool, UK, freelance since graduating with a degree in Digital Arts in 2004. I also work part-time as a college art technician and I’m studying an MA in Illustration.

I have worked with a large range of international publishers on a variety of projects from picture dictionaries and jigsaws to picture books.

I am also very happy to take on personal commissions, project management and art direction – please contact me for details.

Giclée prints are available on request, just drop me an email or text me (or call if you fancy a chat) for further info.

Learning

I’ve put together some information here for students, answering commonly asked questions about my work and background. If you’d like to know anything else, tweet or email to let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

What is your background?

I’ve always been interested in arts and crafts but struggled with focus when I was younger. I took GCSE 3D Design (sculpture and ceramics) and then A-Level Fine Art where I also focused on wire sculpture, ceramics and sgraffito techniques. After my first year I signed up for A Level Graphic Design. Problem solving is something I love and graphic design was the perfect way to bring creativity and those skills together. I didn’t go to university straight after sixth form and put my pencils down. It was five years later when I saw Photoshop courses advertised in a local paper that I picked them back up again. I did two courses with CDS (Photoshop and Tech. in Print) and then applied to do an HND in Multimedia Arts. Convinced I wanted to be a Web Designer I realised as I went through the modules that I was actually more interested in image-making, moving image and graphics. I also completed my teaching qualification at night school during my second year. I passed my HND with Distinction and went straight on to year 2 of a BA(Hons) in Digital Arts. Here I experimented with a broad range of software to create film, animation, illustration and design projects. I concentrated on animation and illustration in my final year. Shortly after completing my degree I was asked to teach Graphics and Multimedia at my previous college. I spent four years teaching before deciding to move into the role of Art Technician when the opportunity arose. This enabled me to concentrate on my freelance work (both illustration and design) in a way that teaching didn’t. Initially this involved working in editorial and advertising as well as working within the community but over time my style developed into something that was more child friendly than edgy editorial. I’m currently studying an MA in Illustration at the University of Hertfordshire.

How do you manage your time?

In an ideal world, deadlines would be staggered but unfortunately it hardly ever works out that way. I use a calendar and allocate days to jobs. You have to estimate how long it will take to complete a job but this gets easier with experience. I try and work in free days so that if anything goes wrong or takes longer than expected I can use those days and not go over deadline. I’m flexible with the time of day that I work – early and late usually.

What is your process?

This varies depending on deadlines. Ideally (and with a reasonable time scale) I sketch as many thumbnail ideas as I can think of. I do this before researching character/setting/detail because I need to dive right in – if I don’t, I get lost in the detail and end up staring at my sketchbook rather than drawing in it in case I get something ‘wrong’. So research comes after initial ideas (for me). Once I’ve done both, I can start to explore viable concepts and draw up scenes and characters in more detail. Once I’m happy I move to digital and create grey roughs in Photoshop. The reason for this is simply that they are quicker to change when amendments come back from the client. As soon as the digital roughs are knocked into shape and approved by the client, I move to colour. Although I work mostly digitally, there is no difference to the way that I colour my work. I don’t use filters or effects as a rule because I don’t think an overly digital feel suits my work. Instead I build up colour and scratch in detail by underpainting and erasing using different techniques/brushes. I hardly ever use solid colour. To paint something blue I vary opacity and loosely paint lots of blues into the area to be coloured and I use any form of digital blending sparingly. This can be a long process but it’s one that I am comfortable with and able to apply to projects that I take on.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Listening,experiencing, reading, watching, looking…Everything and everyone around me influences me in some way. I have a naughty/rebellious streak so I naturally like to write/draw/design mischief and mayhem rather than sweetness and light. Websites, TV, banners and brochures follow trends so for design projects I collect and research contemporary material such as those. After considering factors such as age and market I keep narrowing down my small ideas until the big idea starts to form.

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