This Illustrator Takes You through an Exotic Forest on a Journey of Creative Discovery

Creativity is a lifelong expedition. At least, this is what Sussex-based illustrator Daisy Fletcher reminds us with her new, visually enticing colouring book, Into the Wild. Fresh off the back of her success with Birdtopia (Daisy’s 2016 book that provided a striking collection of avian illustrations for colouring), Into the Wild gives you the chance to be the colourist for a set of 79 beautiful natural environments.

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Inhabited by creatures and vegetation from foxes and ferns to caracals and cacti, Daisy’s expertly crafted drawings are the product of both extensive research into exotic environments and a meticulous artist’s hand honed from 10 years’ work in illustration. Despite being irresistibly illustrious just as drawings, each illustration is made with colour in mind to ensure they remain stunning right from the touch of violet on the first petal, to the highlight of teal on the last feather.

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The process of creative discovery of Into the Wild has two sides. It’s not just Daisy’s mythically-inspired flora and fauna that will transport your mind almost beyond the imaginable, it’s also the journey into your own creativity in a world of colour the book facilitates that makes it such a magical experience. Daisy’s book is as much a tour guide to your own inner-creativity as it is to the wild forest it presents.

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Enchanted by her drawings, we were dying to ask the creator behind Into the Wild some questions.

TP: What inspired your decision to create a colouring book set in woodland? Have you spent a lot of time in forests?
DF:
I really enjoy researching flora, fauna and exploring natural places. At weekends, my family and I are always out walking in woods, on the beach or the South Downs in Sussex where we live. I have also spent a lot of time in the wild woods of Devon, and I was also lucky enough to visit Bali where I drew and documented a lot of exotic flowers which appear in the book. I find being in the woods and by the sea very calming. They are the best places for me to reset myself when I’m feeling stressed out.

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TP: How did you select the exotic flora and fauna for the book?
DF:
It was hard as there are just so many exotic flora and fauna to include. I still have a list of others I want to draw. But in the end, I tried to include my favourite plants that are not only native to exotic woodland but also that have beautiful, bright colours. Whilst I work in black and white on a colouring book I always bear in mind how the colourist might approach it by including plants and animals I think would be lovely to colour.

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TP: How did you plan the journey that ‘readers’ take through the book?
DF:
In my first book Birdtopia I really enjoyed starting to create a beautiful and slightly surreal environment for the birds to inhabit. When I began Into the Wild I wanted to build on this by creating more of a sense of journey. It begins with elements of British woodlands – foxes, badgers, brambles, berries and ivy – but as it progresses, the flora and fauna become more unusual and exotic. Throughout the book, you delve deeper and deeper into an unusual and exotic forest. The further you go, the more curious and exotic plants and creatures you find.

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TP: How long did the illustrations take for each page?
DF:
My aim with ‘Into the Wild’ was to complete one double-page spread per week. That included all ideas, drawing and artwork. The schedule was a little tight at times, particularly with the more detailed illustrations. Some pages would come together very quickly and others would take a little longer, but it all worked out in the end. I was also working in and between school holidays – and with my daughter moving from nursery to primary school, a fair bit of juggling went on!

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TP: This book grew from a lifelong love of illustration – what’s your favourite thing about this art form?
DF:
I have always loved drawing but it took me a long time to realise that ‘just’ drawing was OK – and that it was actually my strength. Throughout college, I had done a lot of experimenting with mixed media. But it wasn’t until I got to the RCA that I gained the confidence to develop my drawing and find my voice with it. I particularly enjoy working on books now as it gives me space, freedom and time to experiment and develop ideas into a complete body of work. That is very rewarding for me.

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TP: Why do you think colouring books are becoming so popular with adults?
DF:
On the way to school this morning my five-year-old daughter asked me why my phone was ‘pinging’ and making noises all the time. I had to agree with her, it does seem to want a lot of attention. I think colouring has become so popular because it allows people to switch off from our phones and focus their mind on the page in front of them. It can be a totally absorbing and relaxing solitary activity. But it can also be something more social. People often contact me to tell me they found my book through a colouring group they’re involved in. There is also a lot of support and encouragement around on social media from the colouring community, too.

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TP: Laurence King wanted you to ‘go wild’ back in 2014 for Birdtopia – what wild book do you want to work on next?
DF:
I always have ideas bubbling away and at the moment I’m not sure which direction these ideas will take. But part of me would like to start where Into the Wild ends. Hidden there are unicorns, griffins and winged deer. I wonder what kind of place creatures like that would inhabit…

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