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 a visiting lecturer in Graphic Design, Multimedia and Art.
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.
Here you can find a photo, testimonials, upcoming releases and a brief history/about me for marketing/reviewers/publishers that may need this stuff.
Maxine Lee-Mackie was born in Liverpool, Merseyside, where she still lives with her husband and their two boys. She taught a range of creative subjects before taking a step back to concentrate on her career as an author/illustrator. Caterpillar Books in the U.K. published her debut children’s book, Pi-Rat, in August 2013. Since then she has worked with international publishers on a wide range of books and gifts for children.
Tilly and The Blue Pearl by Angela McAllister (Hachette) July 2015
Hippo’s Hiccups (Childsplay) 2015
Zebra’s Sneeze (Childsplay) 2015
The Burp That Saved The World by Mark Griffiths (Simon & Schuster) August 2015
Reviews of my work from around the web:
“Adorable, mixed-media illustrations with lots of humorous touches will coax any little landlubber to the sea—er, bathtub.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Loved it, so did my boys (aged 5 and 7). It’s a fabulous book, with fabulous illustrations.There are all sorts of little details to find. I confess I also did a pirate accent (well tried) it’s impossible not to. Highly recommended.” (Amazon UK)
“Beautifully illustrated using a palette of muted blues and greys, combined with simple text set against copy book background and into speech bubbles, Pi-Rat is a fun book that young readers will enjoy flicking through by themselves or having read to them. The graphic-design style illustrations truly capture the vulnerability of Pi-Rat, who like many little tearaway pirates wreak havoc during the day, but can be transformed into sweet angels after bath time when they are ready to lay down their swords for the night.” (Inismagazine.ie)
“Maxine’s bold and colourful illustrations and exquisite comic timing are giggle-worthy, and we absolutely couldn’t get enough of that bit where Dad erupts like Mt Vesuvius. (Dad doesn’t stay angry for long though :)” (Read It Daddy!)
“Sorry Dad is a fantastically illustrated book that is full of fun, mis-hap and great messages – perfect for some daddy time!” (Little Fiction Fascination)
“What an interesting and entertaining tale of friendships,perseverance with whimsical illustrations and humorous drawings. Silly scenarios, and laughter plus funny, cute, vivid illustrations, makes this a perfect for your little youngsters!” (My Book Addiction)
“Big Whoop! had me laughing as much as my kids were. An unamused fox can’t seem to find much spark in life, so his imaginative little friends try to get a rise out of him. It’s definitely a book Oliver Jeffers fans would enjoy, with a plot and characters entertaining to adults and children alike. The illustrations are adorable. I highly recommend, as do my kids, they’re five and seven and they both agree this one is their favorite.” (Baily C., Goodreads)
I’ve put together some information here for students (hello, 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 schooI 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.
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 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.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working with Macmillan US, illustrating a series of books, Samsung Publishing in Korea on a Picture Dictionary and Cambridge University Press, illustrating a learning book.