Inside the mind of Veronica Wood

Veronica is the illustrator of 'Washing up is Good for you', one our first of two books in a series of seven with Octopus books. Her pen mixes humour and insight into ink bringing to life objects and people. Her creations move, feel and make you smile with recognition.

There was no strict brief for washing up is good for you other than a need for the illustrations not be ‘twee’ in any shape or form. Katie, the Creative Director, knows I don’t do twee. We laughed about this as clearly, she had chosen me to illustrate the book because she knew that the outcome would be something around 5 million miles away from twee.

I’ve worked with Department Store for the Mind on many projects and I really like what they stand for with their creative, gentle and intelligent approach to the subject of emotions and the human mind. Collaborating with Katie is pretty awesome too. We are both people who like to live in the moment. We put every single bit of ourselves into whatever that moment might actually be so, it is always an exciting and fruitful experience when we embark upon a project together.

Washing Up Is Good For You has been a real gift of a commission. There has been plenty of opportunity to work in the way I find most suits me…that is, lots of scope for playing with ideas, trying out different versions and being given a bit of freedom, generally.

With all my drawings and especially those for Washing Up… I strive to capture a kind of emotive ‘movement’ within the subject matter. All things, including objects have a degree of personality and I feel it’s important to get that across. For me, this means that lines should never be too linear (if that makes any sense at all) I feel they need to express the right amount of ‘wobble’ to bring the subject to life and convey the essence of whatever is being described.

An example of this is the kitchen sink drawing which accompanies the quote “Clean Enough Is Good Enough”. It is one of my favourites because I found I had to work extra hard to get the ‘feel’ I wanted. I made quite a number of drawings, some of which looked a little try-too-hard, with others appearing sort of clinical. However, I got past that and ended up with something I am happy with. I used my own sink as a model because it is a style and type familiar to most people and I wanted it to be identifiable by anyone and everyone in any kind of home economically or geographically.

The common scouring sponge was an absolute ‘must’ to include.

Another image I’d like to mention is the flopped-over cabbage with various molluscs heading towards it. The cabbage looks a bit brain-like which works well alongside the words, “Am I feeding My Mind With The Right Ideas?”

I have a fear of slugs and so looking at images of them for reference was a bit of a challenge but I think it works well. I do appreciate the apple-green back drop Katie and Jo applied. In fact, I think the colours the design team chose really complement my drawings.

I hope anyone reading the book will agree with me!

Find more of Veronica's work here.