Reconnect with Your Inner Child Through These Illustrations

Gemma Koomen finds inspiration in vintage books from second-hand shops; which makes sense if you scroll through her Instagram page. A vintage, nostalgic, quality shines through her gouache and ink illustrations, reminding us of a long lost childhood.

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“But Tree Keepers have fun too! You’ll see them playing catch the acorn, twig tag and tug the vine. Well, you might not see everyone doing that. You probably won’t notice Sylvia at all..” I wanted to share this moment in Flock as it has a lot of personal depth for me. Having been a very shy child and also having sensitive children of my own this kind of scene feels very familiar. When my girls were small the other kids would be having a wonderful wild romp around while mine would be clinging to me like limpets. The noise and the chaos of energetic kids play seemed to make them retreat, but on their own or with one other they would come vibrantly alive in their creativity and imagination. I still to this day can feel shy about new social situations and sometimes have to overcome some fear to join in. I wanted to tell this tale from that perspective, asking myself all the time what could happen to the character that could help her to overcome this barrier to fun, connection and ultimately belonging and not lose her own gift of sensitivity and creativity? It was good for me to explore this for my children, all shy children perhaps, and myself! In fact in real life the process of writing and illustrating this book came with my then five year old starting school and confronting the challenge of feeling shy and finding it hard to connect with the other children to make friends. When I researched picture books with central characters that were shy I couldn’t find that many, so I feel glad to bring this perspective into words and pictures, as the images can be real talking points with children about the emotions that the character might be feeling. I found it particularly helpful with my daughter and she is so much more confident now. I’ve realised the special role that picture books have for building empathy and giving language to so many issues that children face and it’s such a gift to be given the opportunity to make work with this in mind. #childrenbookillustration #kidlitart #picturebooks #picturebookart #illustrationow #childhoodunplugged #treekeepers #mytinyworld

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According to Koomen, her artwork is driven by a desire to capture little moments of calm and joy, with each piece recreating the familiar and domestic into elements of magical possibility.

As a child, she would immerse herself in imaginary worlds created with crayons and pencils on the backs of her artist father’s rejected screenprints, on walls, and underneath furniture. But it was only much later in life that she honed her craft by completing a Masters in Illustration.

Now, you can enjoy her magical creations on her Instagram page or purchase selected prints on her online store.