Lonely Planet Writer

In the studio with Alice Bowsher, illustrator for Everyday Adventures

Alice painting with ink in her studio © Alice Bowsher Alice painting with ink in her studio © Alice Bowsher

Our latest title, Everyday Adventures, contains a series of fun challenges and activities to try in your hometown such as a zero budget day out and following your senses. We chatted with the illustrator Alice Bowsher on how she created the fun, doodle-style drawings that accompany each activity and the personal challenges that come with illustrating an entire book.

Tell us about the brief

The brief was to create illustrations that bring the Everyday Adventures tasks and challenges to life. I read through all of the challenges and came up with sketches for each whilst keeping it fun and simple!

How did you make a start?

I started by drawing quick sketches using a fine liner pen. I start all of my roughs this way as it's a quick and easy way to get ideas on paper. I only sketched one or two roughs for each task and once they were approved I painted them using brush and ink and then scanned them into Photoshop to neaten them up before sending the final image.

Were there any challenges?

It was an extremely smooth project actually – the only challenge was that there were so many illustrations. Organisation is not one of my strong points, so this project taught me the importance of having a good filing system... Very boring, but very important!

What’s the one item in your studio you can’t live without?

My books. I know that's not strictly one item but a collection of books counts as one item, right? My books are a great reference and often save me from getting stuck in an internet black hole watching hamsters eat tiny meals. My favourites (books – not hamsters) are currently The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, Brands with Character and A Smile In The Mind.

How did you get into illustrating books?

By accident! I've always liked drawing for myself but never really thought it could be a viable career choice. I thought I would work in fashion but ended up studying Fine Art at Bath Spa University. As soon as the course started I realised it wasn’t going to work out for me so I switched to Graphic Communication, where I muddled my way through type and font projects for a year until we started working on image-based work. I had a great tutor who spotted my drawings in the margins of pages and encouraged me to draw for projects and that's where it all started. I love illustrating books, they are always my favourite projects to work on.

Alice's illustrations

Expedition to K2 grid-reference rough sketch
Expedition to K2 grid-reference final version
Puppy pursuit rough sketch
Urban zen final version
Fly by night final version
Plastic challenge rough sketch
Food quest rough sketch
Commute tourism rough sketch