Charly Lane is a designer and illustrator, and she has worked for Make Believe Ideas since November 2013. Charly is a very dedicated and integral part of the team here, so we thought we’d interview her and introduce her to you…

1. Hi Charly! Please tell us about yourself and how you got into working as a designer.

Hi! My name is Charly and I have drawn for as long as I can remember. I was the child who would gather small scraps of paper and staple them into something that vaguely resembled a book, and then I’d fill it with anything that popped into my imagination. At school, I was always drawing, (and would frequently get told off in my geography lessons for doodling), so when it came to applying for universities, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

I took an art foundation degree at college, where I got to try so many new things! Then, I went on to study Illustration and Graphic Design at De Montfort University in Leicester where I learnt so many skills, made lifelong friends and grew so much as a person.

After university, the adult world felt extremely daunting and I must have applied to over one hundred design jobs, receiving lots of rejection. But I never gave up, and after six long months, I saw my dream job advertised. That job was for a Junior Designer at MBI!

I have always wanted to be an illustrator and designer of children’s books, but I never really believed that it was actually possible to do as a job. I still pinch myself every day when I come into work!

2. Describe your creative process. Where do you find inspiration for new characters and ideas?

I get a lot of inspiration from the world around me, from interesting people on the street, overheard conversations that tickle me, and also TV, film, music and games.

Usually I’d start off with an idea that pops into my head out of the blue. I let it mull in my mind for a bit, before sketching it out. I work digitally because I like having the ability to change and tweak things as I go. I love working with colour, texture and pattern. I work with block colour and I really enjoy seeing how colours can work alongside each other. The main thing for me is having fun! My university tutor once said to me: “if you aren’t having fun, you’re not doing it right!”

3. Tell us about a book that you’re really proud of.

That’s a tricky one! I think it has to be Five Little Pumpkins. It is the first board book I ever illustrated so it has a big place in my heart. Plus, it has squishy pumpkins on the front!

The book I had the most fun creating was My A-MAZE-ing ABC Activity Book. I had the time of my life designing all the different mazes, and I essentially designed it for my younger self, who absolutely loved maze activity books, so to be able to create one of my own meant a lot.

4. Which illustrators have inspired you in your own work?

There are lots of illustrators who inspire me, so it’s difficult to narrow it down! OK, Quentin Blake for his unique and quirky characters, Oliver Jeffers for his subtly brilliant use of humour in his work and Benji Davies for the amazing energy in his illustrations. Also, as cheesy as it sounds, my fiancé Pedro Demetriou (who also works at MBI) – for his outstanding work ethic. His illustrations crack me up every time, and he inspires me to always do my best.

5. What’s your favourite children’s book from your childhood and why?

The one that pops into my mind immediately is The Enormous Crocodile By Quentin Blake. My Grandma bought it for me for my third birthday, and I read it until the pages fell out. I would spend hours staring at the pictures and studying all the little details.

6. What’s your favourite thing about working at MBI?

There are so many reasons why I love working here! I get to do what I love every day, alongside the friendliest, most talented people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I am learning and improving each and every day. Also, the café downstairs sell amazing peanut butter slices!

7. What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career in illustration and design?

I would give this advice to anyone, regardless of whether they were looking for a career in design or something else: If you have a passion for something, work hard and never give up! If you don’t try, it will always be a ‘no’, but if you try your best, there will always be potential for a ‘yes’.