How I Get Inspiration by Observing Kids

As a children’s book illustrator based in Lagos Nigeria, it goes without saying that I would be drawing lots of kids, and a huge variety at that. Most times when artists sketch outdoors, some ignore the kids, but as an illustrator with a focus on children’s books, I have found it helpful to always observe kids and what they are doing when I walk on the street, when I am in a bus, at a cinema, or in a shopping mall. Every public place affords me an opportunity to observe kids in natural every day interactions both with themselves and with their playmates or parents.

Whenever I find myself in a public place, I discreetly observe what the kids are doing. I say “discreetly” so I don’t come across as creepy or suspicious, especially if these kids are in the company of an older person. Their mannerisms, quirks, pranks and silly antics might come across as amusing, even annoying to some, but to me they provide a rich source of inspiration. I observe carefully the way the kids laugh, scream, giggle, and their interaction with other kids. Kids come in different shapes, sizes, appearances and temperaments. This live visual reference is invaluable!

When I get home I immediately sketch down what I had registered in my memory in the roughest possible way spontaneously without focusing on details, I try to capture the mannerisms and expressions of the various kids I had observed.

When I am commissioned to work on a picture book project, which almost always have kids as the main characters, I draw from this rich reservoir of ideas I’ve already documented. This
constant observation of kids has become a lifelong habit that has proved invaluable!