Serena Geddes

Serena Geddes

PROJECT: “Children’s Book Illustration”



A blank page to most is nothing but a rectangular space of white. It’s a tool for many things, but to an artist a white page is an extension of their imagination and crafting that onto this space, can be the most daunting and frustrating transition. A blank page can be your voice as you express freely, or it can be your block, and for three years, this block sat on my rectangle space of white.

Hi, my name is Serena and I was the Spring Artist in Residence, 2013.

I am a children’s book illustrator and for five years I’ve spent my days bringing other peoples words to life. My project was to write two additional stories for my agent after my original picture book submission Ameline drew interest from a publisher in Australia and one in the USA. Three months was the perfect amount of time to create, expand, thumbnail, draw, be offered a contract and start painting my book…. In my head this all made sense, but things don’t always go to plan.

From a sweet and shy character, Ameline was re written, re created and re developed into an imaginative and creative seven-year-old pirate. Days quickly turned into weeks, and with a month left of my residency, Ameline were ready for submission. Modestly proud of this new direction I sent it off with all the self-assurance (and support from fellow studio members) that I’d created something worth buying.

In less than 8 hours my agent crushed this with one sentence…. ‘I wouldn’t publish this in the US’.

With one month left and a minor emotional ‘wobble’, some instant and invaluable support from my fellow Chantillians, I used this time to create a range of illustrations for greeting cards and an entirely new story with two new characters called Rosie and Rasmus. Where my initial project did not quite go to plan, this only opened creative opportunities elsewhere and an entirely new story with a welcoming reply from a very happy agent in the US!

None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for the generosity and support from everyone at the Chantilly Studio’s. Its not everyday a studio offers three months rent free to artists whom are trying to get their projects off the ground. There is no catch to their generosity (oh expect doing your dishes and enlightening them with your creativity) and the space is a wonderful source of inspiration with hugely supportive friends, if you let them in.

I’ve enjoyed my time and experience at the Chantilly Studio’s so much so, I asked if they would keep me… after a few weeks of deliberating and copious group discussions they finally did! Thank you to everyone that helped me over the past three months and for keeping me sane.

Kayle Whitham