Suzanne Carnell, 2023 Golden Pinwheel Book Publishing Jury, "I love seeing the work of an exciting new talent for the first time"

Q1: May I inquire about your standards for collaborating with newcomers or, in other words, when illustrators submit their works to you, which qualities do you pay particular attention to in the illustrators?

I love seeing the work of an exciting new talent for the first time; I know we all do. I am looking for a freshness, an individuality of style and work that makes me feel something. Some new young illustrators are still finding their voice, but I think you can tell if they have something to say, that they are putting something of themselves into their work. It’s all about communication. I love to see flashes of real wit: not necessarily comedy (though humour is always hugely appealing) but an intelligence and thoughtfulness in the work, the expression of a particular point of view.

Q2: In your experience, what kind of professional skills and qualifications does a newcomer need to possess in order to embark on a full-time career as a freelance illustrator?

I would suggest that among most important things for a freelance illustrator to possess are talent, patience and determination. It is a tough, over-subscribed profession and it can be hard for a newcomer to break through. And very hard to make a living purely from illustration. Bearing in mind that practical consideration, I think it wise to keep an open mind about what work you are looking for.

Q3: In your professional career, what kind of published books do you consider to be classics?

I hope I am understanding this question correctly, that you are asking about particular titles that I consider to have earned classic status? I suppose to truly be deemed a ‘classic’, a little time must pass after a book’s publication to show that it has longevity, but sometimes a book appears that is either so startlingly different that it cannot be ignored, or is such a perfect example of, say, a picture book, that it is instantly recognised as a ‘modern classic’. For example, the perfect combination of Julia Donaldson’s brilliantly crafted, clever text with Axel Scheffler’s humorous, beautifully painted illustrations has made The Gruffalo an international favourite and modern classic, while Emily Gravett’s startlingly original Wolves, or Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s Stinky Cheeseman will remain classics of the genre for the way in which they challenged what a picture book could be.