Danny Snell Interview: Do Wombats Have Tails?

Updated: 6 days ago


So, Danny Snell, what’ya reading?

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Mermaid of Black Conch’, by Monique Roffey, which I quite enjoyed. And at the moment I’m in between books, so I’m rereading ‘Wildwood’ by Colin Meloy and beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis. It’s a middle grade fiction book that I bought because I loved the illustrations, but it’s a great story too.


You recently illustrated The Fire Wombat, written by Jackie French. I imagine you looked at a lot of wombats. Was there something strangely unique about their anatomy that you never noticed know before?

Yes, wombats have tails! I remember double checking this just before I was due to do some school visits, as I knew it was a question that I’d probably get asked by one of the kids.


What kind of illustrations most interested you as a child. Do you still feel inspired by that style in your picture book illustrations?

One of my favourite books growing up (and which I still have) is ‘Goggles!’ by Ezra Jack Keats. I love the way that he applies paint. I don’t paint as much as I used to but when I do I’m always searching for those same bold brush strokes. I also loved looking at details in pictures. I remember enjoying scenes where there was a lot happening, like the worlds that Richard Scarry created. Though this is the opposite of the way that I tend to illustrate. I usually try and keep things simple and uncomplicated.


Is there a young, up and coming writer you would love to illustrate for?

There are so many good writers out there. It’s always nice when I get to work with writers from South Australia. Our local creative community is very talented and very supportive.


What’s something about you that most people don’t know, but would make a great illustration?

When I was in my 20s I had a lot of very long and very curly hair. By contrast it’s now very, very short.

What’s one piece of advice would you give to an emerging young illustrator?

Always observe the world around you, and draw as often as you can. I once heard an author say, “Write what you know.” I think the same is true for illustrating. Illustrate what you know. Draw what interests you.


What do you most like to do for fun that’s not illustrating?

I enjoy swimming and riding my bike (push bike). Both are good ways to get out of the studio and clear the head.


If you were elected president of the world, what would be the first thing you would change?

I’d shorten the working week. We’d then have less time to worry and more time to wander (and wonder).


Have you ever got an illustration completely wrong, but kept it and ended up secretly liking it?

I’m my own worst critic, so there’s often some element of my work that I wish I’d done differently. But I’m learning to worry less about these details (and it’s usually something that no one else can see).

What pet would you prefer, a wombat or a dog?

I’d be happy with either. But as I’ve always wanted a dog (ever since I was little) I’d have to say a dog. Apologies to our cat.

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