Robert’s Snow – Illustrator Interview: Tracy Mcguiness-Kelly

Robert’s Snow is an auction of illustrator painted/donated snowflakes to benefit anti-cancer activities. For the official site where you can bid on this and other flakes, go here. For other illustrators being interview today as part of the Blogging for a Cure effort, go here.

 We’ve got something pretty interesting here, folks. It’s a snowflake like no other. Illustrator Tracy Mcguinness-Kelly took a risky approach and decided to create an abstract design on her snowflake.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a smashing success — although probably even more smashng in person — but what’s the story behind the flake?

Here’s Tracy Mcguiness-Kelly to tell us….



Tell us about your snowflake…  

I wanted to do something a little bit abstract,its hard to see in the picture but its lots and lots of little circles of different shades of white and lightly coloured papers all layered on top of each other.I wanted to get the feeling of how even the smallest of objects iea snowflake is actually made up of even smaller particles exploring the idea infinity going in the direction of smaller and smaller. I also added very fine glitter to capture that magical sparkle quality in snow. 

When you got the invitation did you immediately know what you were going to put on the snowflake?

Not really I left it quite late,but once i started it just came to me,I also felt I wanted to do something a little bit abstract. and I was happy with the result as it still came out quite decorative, it will go very nicely on someone’ s xmas tree.


When I look at a Bad Cat spread, I see so much wacky stuff, yet it’s not a mess. It’s clear what’s what and where’s where. Can you explain how you do that at all? Is it controlled exuberance or exuberant control?

I become totally absorbed in my work,down to every little detail, Even my work as a child was extremely detailed,In my Bad Cat books alot of the characters, even in the background can be found throughout the book you can kind of follow each characters own little story.its A little bit like continuation as in an animation.I have been told that children really notice this and make games out of finding them throughout the book, I wanted the books to be strongly held together with a real neighbourhood feeling.


How much are your drawings today like those you did as a kid? What’s changed? 

Locked Diary [BOX SET]

I think my work still is like the work I did as a child.
I really try to hold on to that freshness you find in childrens work,

But its alot more sophisticated and designed than when I was a kid,but that just comes from experience.

(By the way, folks, Tracy has a picture on the front page of her site that I am just bonkers for! Please, take my word on this and go check it out…)


We’re all kidlit lovers here. So we want some geeky stuff. Who’s at the top of your favorite illustrators


I really love Maira Kalman, her illustrations and her wonderful sense of humour.

So unique and original!


And answer as many or as few of the grab bag questions

as you have time/patience for:


Hardest thing to draw?


Best post-80s music video? 

I love Peter Gabriels’ Sledgehammer’ I think it was created by Aardman Animation the same people who do ”Wallace and Gromit.’ [Since that’s actually an 80s video and I’m looking for a post-80s video, I’ll just put her down for Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.” Why? Because of MC Skat Kat, of course.)

Favorite Wyeth (NC, Andrew or Jamie?)

All amazing that kind of painting just astounds me its so unlike how I approach my own work. (Eventually, she picked Jamie.)

Favorite piece of “Fine Art?”

I love Paul Klee’s work his use of colour texture and shape. I can relate to it.

Alright, get over there and get ready to bid on that flake! TMK is in the first week auction round.




7 Responses

  1. I love Maira Kolman too. In fact, I just wrote a blog post for next week that includes some of her work.

    And I love the light and color in this snowflake. It reminds me of all the best parts of winter and none of the worst,

  2. That snowflake is so beautiful that I’m gonna go to the auction site and take it in again. Kudos to her for doing something different, something abstract, and I love her explanation as to what she put on the snowflake and why.

  3. That’s a lovely one–and as much as I have been enjoying the snowflakes with pictures, there is something so cool and refreshing about this one…

  4. […] Tracy McGuinness-Kelly, featured by Sam Riddleburger at his blog […]

  5. Gorgeous … I love the colors!

    If I remember right, Erin Eitter Kono told you feet were the hardest, and now Tracy says hands are the hardest. I have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s just two small circles for the hands and two slightly larger circles for the feet, isn’t it? Sheesh.

  6. […] Tracy McGuinness-Kelly at Sam Riddleburger’s blog […]

  7. […] Tracy McGuinness-Kelly at Sam Riddleburger’s blog […]

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