Jayde Perkin is a freelance artist whose clients have included Penguin Books and Germany’s Das Magazin. She won the East London Comics & Arts Festival x WeTransfer Award in 2018. Shaped by her mother’s death from cancer, Jayde has written and drawn extensively about grief for all ages.
What made you decide to become an illustrator and a writer?
I wanted to be an artist from when I was very small—I’ve always loved drawing and painting. It was when I was doing my Foundation Art Diploma that I realized that I could apply to university to study Illustration, which would combine my love of creating art with my love of words.
What’s a typical workday like?
I usually make some coffee, then either walk or cycle to the studio, which I share with nine lovely creative people. I like the walk, as it clears my head. We usually then put on another big pot of coffee in the studio. My day really depends on what I’ve got on—it varies day to day. Often, I begin the day with admin jobs, or a little trip to the post office. Sometimes I break around lunchtime to do some yoga and spend the afternoon and early evening doing the more creative tasks at hand.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
My books are generally autobiographical, so most of my ideas come from real life experiences—people, places, conversations.
What characteristics do illustrators need most?
Creativity, patience, perseverance, authenticity, and a sprinkle of good time management.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I’m currently growing broad beans, chillies, tomatoes, chives, basil, tarragon, and coriander in our bathtub.
What is your favorite thing about being an illustrator?
Getting to do the thing I love every day!
What do you do to shake off the rust or get new ideas?
I find that just getting away from the desk for a bit helps me, whether that be sitting in a coffee shop, or going for a walk, and listening to music.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
ELCAF 2019. I won the ELCAF x WeTransfer prize in 2018, which allowed me the means to create and self-publish my first long-form graphic memoir I’m Not Ready, which then made its debut at ELCAF last year (2019). It was such a fun weekend, but also felt amazing to have everything come together like that and be surrounded by lots of great people. Also, everyone was drinking out of the cans I designed for that year’s ELCAF x Gipsy Hill collaboration beer!
What is something you wish someone had told you when you first started writing/illustrating?
To just chill out and stop stressing out about everything, take deep breaths, and persevere, and you’ll get there. Also, to stretch more, every day, several times a day, as much as you possibly can.
Tell us about Mom’s Sweater? What inspired you to write this book?
My mum died in 2016 and I left Berlin (where I was living at the time) and began self-publishing these auto-bio comics exploring my loss. They became this space to put my grief, I suppose. I’d moved back to Bristol (UK), and I was tabling at Bristol Comic and Zine Fair, when Greet from Book Island Books picked up my comics Breathe In Deep and Time May Change Me and then commissioned me to make Mum’s Jumper.
So, Mum’s Jumper was me putting myself into a much younger person’s shoes and trying to make sense of grief that way. I was exploring this idea that we don’t just “get over” grief, and that it’s much more complicated than that, but we grow, we change. Grief doesn’t just “go away,” but instead we make space for it within our world.
What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on another long-form comic. It’s in the early stages, but it’s very exciting.
I’m also moving to France for a bit next year—c’est génial!
Otherwise, if anyone wants to commission me to make any books, drop me a line!
Anything else you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
It’s not a race—you’re on your own journey. Don’t constantly compare yourself to others. Find your own unique voice and keep it growing and developing.
Mom’s Sweater by Jayde perkin
What does it look like to live on, even when Mom is gone? In this grounded, sensitive story, a young girl looks for ways of dealing with the anger, loneliness, and jealousy that death can create. Finding comfort in her mother’s old sweater, she discovers that grief doesn’t necessarily grow smaller over time—but little by little, day by day, we can grow into grief.
With striking, bold illustrations and evocative text, this story will be a gentle companion for young readers who are experiencing loss.