Catriona Sparks - Graphic Designer and Desktop Publisher

Catriona Sparks
'I made my first collage when I was five years old and the process of collecting little bits of stuff and Frankenstein-ing them into something new has appealed to me ever since.'

Catriona, in her 30s, was publications manager in Information Services at the New South Wales Premier’s Department before she moved into the design field.

She now works four days a week for a small publisher on the south coast of New South Wales as a graphic designer and desktop publisher (DTP) and runs a small publishing business with her partner.

She is also an illustrator and has won three Ditmar awards for her cover art. The Ditmars are Australian science fiction achievement awards.


What are some of the companies that you work for?

I work for the Spinney Press, Agog! Press and various magazines as a freelance illustrator.

What does your job involve?

At Spinney Press, my boss selects topics and I research them on the Internet and in newspaper archives. I then source or produce illustrations to accompany text, lay the books out in InDesign, copyedit, proofread and then export the final product to PDF for printing. We do six books at a time and produce 18 books a year.

Agog! Press is a small publishing house that I run with my partner. We produce anthologies of Australian speculative fiction. I call for submissions, read the slush pile, select stories for publication, edit them, lay the book out, produce cover art, send the books to print and then, finally, market them.

What do you like most about your job?

Running my own small press is hard work and there is not much money in it. But I get to produce exactly what I want – from story selection through to cover art. This is extremely satisfying, and some of the books have received critical acclaim, both here and in the United States.

Major publishers are not interested in short stories so magazines and small presses like Agog! are keeping the genre alive.

I love everything about illustrating stories. I love computer graphics and collage and have won awards for my work. I don’t draw or paint. I made my first collage when I was five years old and the process of collecting little bits of stuff and Frankenstein-ing them into something new has appealed to me ever since.

Part of it is a magpie-collecting fetish thing I suppose – the gathering of fragments to create an altogether new and larger whole. I find the processes of collage and still photography similar.

Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?

The story itself will always bring forth a selection of images. The challenge is then to find the most effective way of producing them. The author is sometimes surprised by the result.

I may choose to illustrate a particular scene from the story that they did not regard as particularly significant.




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