Through this series, Community Spotlight, we are highlighting a range of designers who inspire us with their boundless imagination and resilient spirit. We hope that in doing so, they too will bring inspiration to your doorstep.

In this week's installment, we had the pleasure of interviewing a long-time Design Cutter and Australian children's illustrator Paul Hallam! Paul is one of our most devoted live event attendees (which is all the more impressive considering the time difference) and a true source of support and encouragement for the rest of our community members. We loved getting to know him better and are confident that you will too!

Q: Paul, would you like to tell us about yourself?

Of course! I was born and raised in the suburbs of Western Sydney where I still live with my wife, four school aged children, one dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Growing up, I was always interested in reading, cartoons, comics and of course, art. I remember ploughing through colouring in books and drawing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As an adult, I am still into all of these things as well as history, Christian theology and enjoy listening to e-books while I work.

I currently work two part time jobs (as well as the odd freelance job on the side). Job one: I work for a church writing teaching material and doing their graphic design. Job two: I work for a studio where I illustrate and design teaching material for Christian religion classes in Australian schools.

Q: How long have you been with us as a Design Cutter?

I became involved with the Design Cuts community sometime around 2016-17. I heard about the company through listening to the Honest Designers podcast. I found Tom and the rest of the hosts so relatable and friendly and eventually got connected with the community. I immediately loved being part of it: sharing artwork, joining the community hangouts and getting to know other people who were passionate about illustration and design.

Q: How did you develop your signature illustration style?

I studied illustration at university. It wasn’t a huge, thought out decision, I just liked drawing so I figured that was what I would do after school. After university, I decided to work for a church. Unfortunately, after about 10 years, I got sick and had to find a new direction.

This led me back into illustration and design. After working in a school as a visual arts teachers aide, I decided to up-skill and started a part time graphic design course. The next few years involved interning at various design agencies, working as an in-house designer at a few companies and doing freelance work. Eventually, I was able to focus more on my passion: illustration for children. I have had the privilege of working on greeting cards, kid’s music, comics, a board game and educational material.

Q: Can you describe to us your design process?

My work is completely digital from the first rough scribble to the final art. I work on my iPad, either as a stand-alone drawing tablet or connected to my computer through an app called Astropad studio. I draw using Procreate and Photoshop, often in combination.

I start each illustration with a series of super rough thumbnail sketches to work out the overall layout and poses that I want. I then enlarge this thumbnail and redraw it on a new layer using basic shapes and line work. I repeat this process of redrawing a few times, refining the artwork on each new layer.

At this stage, I will also usually create a colour rough. This gives me a solid idea of the colours I will be using really quickly. Once the colour palette is decided, I now feel less worried about how the final drawing will look.

Next I draw the basic flat colour shapes (or line work, if it is a line drawing). My style is fairly flat, but with a bunch of texture. I don’t really try and render things in a three-dimensional way or even realistically. I try and create interesting colours and textures within each shape. Once the flat shapes are all made, I experiment with different texture brushes, colours and blending modes until I have the look that I want. From then on it is all finishing touches and adjusting colours.

Q: Where do you hope to be in 5 years’ time?

I hope to be doing illustration in a more full time capacity. In particular, I would love to work on children’s books. I have pitched ideas to publishers before and would like to do more of that or just to illustrate someone else’s story. I also hope that I will be a little bit better at my art and a bit wiser about the business. I would also love a little bit more hair on my head (I can dream can’t I?)!

Q: What's your top tip for other designers?

Find your niche and go for it wholeheartedly. Think about the sort of art that you love, the topics that inspire you and tap into that. Keep trying. Keep learning. And support other artists and designers.

Q: What are your favorite DC products to use?

My all-time favourite product is the Woodland Wonderland brush pack made by RetroSupply. I am a huge fan of the old Little Golden Books and these brushes are definitely inspired by them. I use these brushes in almost all of my work.

At the moment I am experimenting with the Ultimate Brush Toolbox from Trailhead Design Co. I love how many brushes there are in this set and the ability to mix and match different art materials. And they are top quality brushes of course!

Thank you Paul for letting us pick your brain. If you would all like to explore more of his work or show him some appreciation, you can head to his Instagram!