Where did you you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist? Have you always been creative?
I mostly grew up in the Scottish Borders surrounded by awesome countryside, burns (streams), rivers, fields and wildlife.
I don't think it was a conscious decision. It just happened. I was always "the one who drew" and I kinda liked that. Despite being told by careers advisers that art wasn't a real job I appear to have made one from my skills. I don't really do "normal".
How did you develop your skills? Did you study art in school or are you self taught?
Both really. I have a degree in animation which taught me great drawing skills; the illustration (business and techniques) and Adobe Photoshop were self-taught. I think that's been the best way for me - learning on the job.
Have your family and friends always been supportive in your artistic path, or has it been challenging for them to understand your choice?
They've always been hugely supportive and continue to do so. They're brilliant :)
What was your strongest influence you had growing up ( artists, cartoons, films, comics, etc)?
Cartoons definitely! Chuck Jones, Looney Tunes, "Old" Disney (Pre The Lion King), anything a bit weird, a bit quirky, a bit abnormal!
Do you have a routine when sitting down ready to get creative?
Coffee! I need coffee. I also need a plan. When the possibilities of what you can draw are endless you need to give yourself constraints.
What part of the creative process is the easiest, what part is the hardest and what part is the most fun?
It varies from job to job; piece to piece. I would say getting a composition you're happy with hard, and possibly cleaning up the art - it's sometimes a long process and sometimes I skip it and I regret it later! The rest is relaxing after that. It's all enjoyable.
The absolute hardest part is knowing when it's good enough. You could polish a piece forever and there is a point where you have to go "yeah that's good, send it off".
Have you worked on any exciting projects in the past and are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
On and off for a few years I have been creating my Fantasy Alphabet. I restarted it this year and after a crazy 6 or so months i'm getting back to it. It was featured in ImagineFX #87 in 2012 which was very cool!
Do you have a long-term career goal and what would your dream project be?
To draw more books! Not only is drawing a great way to spend a day I feel good that i'm also helping children become interested in reading, drawing and using their imagination. Another goal is to get representation from one of the amazing illustration agencies out there.
Would you prefer to work for a company or work as a freelancer? And why?
A freelancer, definitely. I think my personality suits the role. I like being in total control of what i'm working on and having the courage to say when I think something could be improved. I like to be in control of my own destiny.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? What do you do to keep yourself creative and boost your imagination?
Get the hell off the computer! Go for a walk, a run, hit the gym or even have an early night kicking back watching some films with a cold beer. The other thing I like is working to a set brief so if I need a folio piece for example i'll write myself a little story then get drawing it. When you have the potential to draw anything that can be really overwhelming so just pick something.
Do you have a favourite subject to draw? If so, what makes it so special?
Animals! Absolutely anything organic really. I dunno what makes them so special but nature is something I have always loved. My Dad was a great influence in that regard whether it was out in the garden or at the museum or just chilling on the sofa watching nature documentaries.
Who are the artists that inspire you the most today? And why?
Wow there's so many! People like Nat Smillie, Tim Budgen, Louise Forshaw to name a few - check out the people i'm following on twitter! Firstly their art is glorious, and secondly they are such lovely lovely people! Their work ethic and dedication to their craft is amazing too - really inspiring. The great thing about the art community - everyone is so friendly!
Do you have something that you've designed that you are most proud of?
Ruan The Little Red Squirrel which came out on the 20th July 2016. It was a great challenge and I adored working on it and with the author and publisher. It's my first BIG publication and it makes me really proud to have the finished book in my hands and go I DID THAT!
My Mum keeps showing everyone the book - it's kinda embarrassing but at the same time it's brill! My parents have always had my corner :)
If you had to give 1 piece of advice to someone just getting started in the creative field, what would it be?
If you're going to do it then go at it with all your heart and make sure it's something you REALLY want to do cause it will try you. It's not an easy realm to work in and you're going to be met with a LOT of challenges. Unfortunately illustrating isn't just sitting at home colouring-in.
Finally, where can we find you and your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
My folio is at www.rowenaaitken.com, my twitter is @rowenaaitken (beware - there may be a few photos of Pixel) and my Facebook illustration page is https://www.facebook.com/rowenaaitkenillustration/ :)