What do a flamingo and an iguana have in common?

 Sep 28, 2015

Illustrator and writer Lisa-Jean is embarking on an exciting new storybook adventure, introducing readers to some delightfully quirky and colourful characters along the way.

Here in a 60-second-style interview we catch up with the hugely-gifted artist, better known as Iris Hill to her followers, to find out more about her process of writing and how she brings to life her wonderfully eccentric creations.

SO: What triggered the idea for your latest story of the friendship between an Iguana and a Flamingo?

IH: My ideas often form from playing with different media. I created a gorgeous piece of patterned paper from Indian ink, watercolour and alcohol ink, using a variety of paint 'splat' techniques. The paper was destined to be made into a reptile, with its bobbly textures and scale like structure; the iguana emerged from the vibrant collection of speckled blobs.

SO: An iguana and a flamingo? Not the most natural of partnerships - or is it… 

IH: I love unexpected friendships; my stories often explore the idea of opposites complimenting each other. Visually the idea of an horizontal lined iguana and a vertical flamingo standing tall works fantastically together. The combination of textures is very pleasing; a mixture of hard-sketched scales versus softer-shaded feathers is a treat to work with. The colours are striking too, the blue iguana leaps of the page alongside the hot pinks of the flamingo while the colour orange is featured on both characters giving them a common link.

SO: Which comes first the character or the story?

IH: An explosion of paint always comes first; I mostly take my lead from the mediums I am working with. I often sit and absorb the abstract patterned works, visualising what they will be come. I wait for the characters to tell me their story.

SO: Can you remind our readers of a few of the other stories you have written…

IH: Ronnie is a mysterious little story that is ultimately about a bond between brothers;  Spider And Fly is a series of stories that follow these two characters in their quest to spoil picnics and gorge on cake; Dino What follows a young artist to the brink of frustration when everyone judges his painting, but his painting comes to life and has its own ideas on how to handle the opinions of others; The Young Lady Who Lived In A Box is an adventure about self belief, allowing yourself to be taken by the wind and enjoy the unexpected; Trout Pout is the fishy tale of a very moody individual, blinded to his fortune he learns an important lesson that will put things into perspective.

SO: How long do you usually work on a story?

IH: They evolve all the time, I often return to piece of work and try an alternative ending or a few minor tweaks. The idea can be worked through quickly, ensuring the story flows and peaks. I always find building up the audience to its resolve is the tricky bit.

SO: Where are you hoping to take the story once it's finished...

IH: I am building my portfolio to send out to both agents and publishers. Mainly, though, as long as I am enjoying the development of an idea that's enough for me. I am protective over my passion for my creativity, ensuring the love remains is my priority. It's easy to put pressure on something and that can shift the way you feel towards that piece of work. Few people are fortunate enough to find something they truly emit exuberance for; I feel very grateful to have found something that I love to do.

SO: People always like to build up a mental picture of how and where people write…

IH: I mainly create in my studio (I have cream carpets at home!). Writing can happen anywhere, I always have a pen and paper on hand. You never know when an idea is going storm through your day.


Iris Hill is the creative utopia imagined by unique Illustrator Lisa Jean. Finding solace in this magical place, Lisa Jean’s signature pen, ink and watercolour works and dedication to passing her unique processes on to others have captivated viewers from as far as Australia to her home in the UK. As a children’s writer several of her titles have been published by boutique publisher Raspberry Jam books.

To find out more about the magical world of Iris Hill, visit www.irishill.co.uk