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In the studio with Kait Eaton, illustrator and maker of Cardboard Box Creations – Lonely Planet’s travel blog

In the studio with Kait Eaton, illustrator and maker of Cardboard Box Creations – Lonely Planet’s travel blog

Kait and her husband Craig at their studio in The Vale of Belvoir, UK

Illustrator turned cardboard box enthusiast, Kait Eaton talks us through the challenges and chaos that ensued when her home and studio was inundated with 21 cardboard box models during the making of our new Lonely Planet Kids title Cardboard Box Creations.

Got kids? Feeling crafty? Enter our Cardboard Box Creations competition!

Tell us about the brief

Craig and I started off by creating a really long list of fun things we could try and make from cardboard and pulled together a mood board. Once we’d whittled down the list, we shared our favourites with the author, Laura Baker, who created a page plan from our ideas. Laura selected a good mix of large and small scale makes that she knew would be fun for children to make and play with. As Cardboard Box Creations is based around an exciting worldwide journey, we all thought it made good sense to start off with a suitcase, passport and camera!

How did you make a start?

Once we had an initial page plan in place, we set about collecting as much cardboard as possible. Our friends and family all saved their delivery boxes and we raided local businesses’ recycling bins (with their permission!). However, it wasn’t long before we realised we would need to change a couple of the models as they were too difficult to execute with minimal adult help. The Colosseum, Golden Gate Bridge and Taj Mahal were all a bit ambitious for small hands! We were really keen to create a book full of accessible ideas that children could – for the most part, at least – do and decorate themselves.

Once the models had been photographed, I illustrated extra details to add to the photos. Birds, buildings, decorative embellishments and people were hand-drawn directly into the photographs on the screen with a tablet pen. We wanted the illustrations to bring the cardboard creations to life in the same way a child’s imagination would.

Were there any challenges?

Yes: lack of space! 21 models, some as large as us, completely took over our studio, kitchen and dining room. We couldn’t move for cardboard. Our children wanted to play with them and our cats wanted to climb in them! The roof of the Japanese Tea House was also quite a challenge. We really wanted it to curve up when taped together to look authentic, so Craig made lots of mini versions to practice the angles.

What’s the one item in your studio you can’t live without?

The obvious answer would be our Macs, but that aside it has to be the radio. You can’t beat having a bit of background chat or music to work to.

How did you get into illustrating books?

I was lucky enough to land a job as an in-house illustrator for a toy company once I finished university, but my heart was in children’s publishing and I regularly bought lovely picture books that inspired me. My bookshelves were full of children’s books long before I had children! Craig worked as a designer for a few children’s publishers after graduating, so when we set up Duck Egg Blue together, pooling our skills to design and illustrate children’s books was a natural progression.

Kait’s creations and illustrations

When Kait said ‘we couldn’t move for cardboard!’ she wasn’t lying…
Cardboard box creations aren’t always easy when there’s a curious cat around
A New York Cab and a London Bus
Road sign illustrations for the book
The New York skyline from the back cover of the book
Illustrations overlayed on cardboard as shown in the book
Illustrations of the tools needed to make the cardboard box creations
A final spread from the book: how to build a cardboard campsite
A final spread from the book: how to build an Amazon adventure ?

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