Freya Blackwood

Photo of Freya Blackwood
Freya Blackwood was born in 1975, and grew up in Orange in New South Wales, Australia. As the daughter of a painter and an architect, she was encouraged to draw from a young age, and produced many illustrated books as a child.

She left Orange to study a design degree (Visual Communications) at the University of Technology, Sydney and then worked for several years in the film industry in Sydney and Wellington, New Zealand.

In Wellington, Freya worked at Weta Workshop on The Lord of the Rings trilogy as an effects technician. It was then she rediscovered illustration and never looked back. In 2003 Scholastic Press published her first picture book, Two Summers written by John Heffernan. She has since illustrated books written by Libby Gleeson, Margaret Wild, Roddy Doyle, Jan Ormerod, Nick Bland and Kyle Mewburn.

She loves creating characters, giving them emotions and their own small world to live in. These as well as the challenges of design and the problem solving involved in creating a picture book are what continue to inspire her.

Many of Freya's books have been translated into other languages and can be read by people all over the world. She couldn't be luckier or happier, and now lives back in Orange with her divine daughter Ivy, rather naughty whippet Pivot, and four noisy chickens.

Author's Comment: Q. Who or what inspires you?

My mum, definitely. My daughter – she’s crazily creative. The books I read with my daughter, Miyazaki films, stop motion animations, the work of my favourite illustrators, and the people, animals and places in my life.

Q. What is your worst habit?

I have many bad habits, but the worst habit is collecting things, lovely old crockery particularly, which is made even worse by my mother who likes collecting things for me.

Q. Where have you always wanted to visit, but haven’t made it to … yet?

I’ve always wanted to see Sydney back in the 1800s, though maybe not smell it. 

Q. Where is your favourite place to illustrate/write?

My studio. It’s my special place that’s just mine and when in it I feel free of all my responsibilities and relax and must then remind myself to work.

Q. What’s the best thing about being a published author/illustrator?

I love seeing my books travel. I don’t get to travel much myself, but they do.

Q. You have illustrated an awesome variety of books – were there any that were particularly challenging for any reason?

I find the sombre books a challenge because after months of intense work, isolated in my backyard studio, the mood of a book tends to rub off on me. The book that stands out at the moment (for all are challenging in their own way and my memory is not good) is The Treasure Box. It was a difficult subject for starters, but when I decided to challenge myself by working in a different way, in the hope of creating something special for this story, I introduced a few complications. And these really tested my technical abilities and emotional stability! I created the illustrations on various layers, with foreground elements cut out and set above background plates, a little like paper dioramas. Once photographed the illustrations are enhanced by subtle shadow and depth. T

Nationality: Australian

Featured series by Freya Blackwood

Cleo Stories (Ages 5 and up)