Gabriel Evans is an author and illustrator of picture books. His latest works The Cute Penguin and Norton the Bear feature characters that question how we see ourselves and what makes us our own unique curious creature.
When Gabriel is not running workshops he spends most of the time working in his studio, where he drinks tea and lets his imagination run wild.
We asked Gabriel to step away from his sketch book and the book week celebrations for a moment, make a cup of tea and answer a few questions for us.
What does this year’s CBCA Book Week theme Curious Creatures, Wild Minds mean to you?
Anyone that reads stories, creates stories or daydreams is a curious creature with a wild mind. I remember as a kid letting my imagination run wild when reading books that seemed so vast and detailed and yet, when I look at those books now, they seem so slim and sparse and I realise my imagination was filling out the stories. And yes, I’m referring to the Narnia series.
Name your favourite curious creature from the books you have either illustrated or read. What do you love about them?
I think The Cute Penguin is a very curious creature as he’s questioning his very existence. For context, he lives in a sketchbook and is annoyed that he’s been drawn so ‘cutely’ and doesn’t look like a real penguin. He decides to fix this and, although his decision to make changes don’t go to plan, we leave him still attempting to solve the issue.
How will you be celebrating CBCA Book Week this October?
Doing what I love best, visiting schools and talking to hundreds of curious students with wild minds. This year I’m living in Sydney where there’s been constant uncertainty if I can visit schools in person. Fingers crossed that will happen.
We asked Gabriel a little more about himself!
Describe yourself in a sentence.
An author-illustrator, tea drinker and tree lover with a sketchbook in hand.
What do you love most about illustrating children’s books?
As an author-illustrator I enjoy that moment of elation when I land on a story idea that just feels right. The feeling is heightened as the story will normally emerge after a string of failed ideas.
2020 has been a year of much change and uncertainty – can you tell us a bit about what the year has held for you in terms of your creativity and work?
The biggest change for me has been the inability to visit schools in person and to rely on virtual visits. It’s been a challenge to adapt and I miss the energy from an in-person visit.
However, when it comes to my day-by-day practice, I haven’t seen much change – authors are used to working in a studio on their own, right? For me, 2020 has been a busy year working on several books - some I’m writing and some I’m illustrating. It’s kept me busy and limited the number of times I’ve refreshed my social media feed for world news.
To find out six fun facts about the author-illustrator (from favourite chicken breeds to hats) visit his website!