Day in the Life of Giselle Clarkson

Giselle Clarkson with cat illustration

Giselle Clarkson is an illustrator from Wellington, New Zealand. She once drew a picture of some biscuits that was shared online so many times that they put her on TV. As well as illustrating children’s books, Giselle is a regular contributor to the NZ School Journal. She writes a comic about children’s books for The Sapling, and makes educational comics about important and exciting environmental topics. She loves to have adventures at sea and on remote islands best of all. Giselle has a degree in photography from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch.




Hello! I’m Giselle, the illustrator of The Tiny Woman’s Coat. I live in a small town near Wellington in New Zealand. I work from home in the corner of a room painted in my favourite shade of blue.

Giselle holding The Tiny Woman's Coat

This is what I look like all day long! All my illustrations are done digitally. The black pad I’m using is a graphics tablet, it’s plugged into my computer and I control the mouse cursor with the stylus I’m holding. The program I’m using is Photoshop and I can use all sorts of different tools to get the effects I want in my drawings. I like to make it look a bit like I’m drawing with gouache and crayons.

I first met the tiny woman when I was doing the illustrations for The Gobbledegook Book, an anthology of Joy Cowley’s stories and poems. I loved her right away and drawing her felt almost automatic! This was actually the very first sample drawing I did before starting work on The Gobbledegook Book properly, and it set the style for everything else that came after.

Open page from The GobbledeGook Book

I don’t do much pre-planning or sketching of my illustrations, usually I get an image in my head and it comes out on to the page in one go. And then I can play with the composition by shifting things around the page, or I can tweak the colours (one of the many wonderful things about working digitally). Talking about each illustration over tea and biscuits with book designer Vida and the Gecko Press team ensures they all look their best before going to print.

Sometimes the image in my head doesn’t work on the page, so I go do something else for a bit and come back to it later. If I try to force an idea to work, it never does!

















I try to always listen to my instincts, even if I don’t know what’s making me feel a certain way at first! I like the final version of this illustration the best because it’s an unexpected angle, and I think it shows us something more about the tiny woman’s spirit. She’s actually quite daring and gymnastic!
































The tiny woman and her snail feel like my best friends now. I love thinking about other adventures they might have, and what else the tiny woman would collect from nature.

I found a perfect acorn cap when I was out for a walk, just like the tiny woman wears in the my illustrations, so I went home and made a little doll that looks like her. The big snail was a very obliging model!

garden 1garden 2









Giselle Clarkson has illustrated a number of books with Gecko Press. The Tiny Woman’s Coat, The Gobbledegook Book and Egg & Spoon are available now.

Tiny Woman's Coat