New Easter picture book "Where's the Golden Egg?" by Katoomba illustrator Bill Hope

Creative: Katoomba illustrator Bill Hope at work.
Creative: Katoomba illustrator Bill Hope at work.

Bill Hope has always been fascinated by the style of the Where's Wally? books. Now, he's written two of his own.

The Katoomba-based author and illustrator has just released a new picture book about Easter called Where's the Golden Egg?

The story follows bunny protagonist Tabatha Hopkins to find the Easter Bunny's Golden Egg and save Easter.

This is Mr Hope's second festive picture book. The first, Where's Santa's Elf?, was published last year and there's a third in the works for Christmas 2021.

"I'd always wanted to do a 'Where's Wally' kind of book," said Mr Hope. "You're not trying to reinvent the wheel, you're just trying to craft a beautiful wheel, the best version of this very established, pre-existing template for these kinds of books."

Mr Hope moved to the Blue Mountains area over a year ago and has recently opened an art gallery called Little Fish Art Space. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the mental and physical space of the mountains has stimulated his creative process. Despite the "quirky, subversive vibe" of the area, Mr Hope does not describe the Mountains as a direct inspiration for his style.

"[My style] is some general cartooning illustration, but one of my lecturers at art school had a good phrase for it, a Latin phrase called horror vacui, which is fear of an empty space. I think a lot of my work is informed by a sort of classical sensibility. When I was a kid, I really liked looking at big Renaissance pictures. But I think my work is inherently silly as well. It's a mix between something that's big of scale, but quite silly. So I think that also fits into the pictures."

The majority of Mr Hope's illustrations start as iPad sketches, which he then transfers to his computer. The difference between his physically larger scale projects and his picture books is the pacing.

"A lot of the work that I do is spontaneous in terms of the inspiration of it. You have an idea, and you want to fulfill that idea as quickly as possible. It's like this dash to capture a certain essence or feeling," Mr Hope said. "Whereas a book like this is a very long process that took a really long time. It's much more of a marathon than a sprint, it's one of these things where you have to establish habits and rituals that will allow you to get through the process of making it."

One picture book takes, on average, six months to create. The first pages of Mr Hope's new Christmas book are currently in the works.

"Where's the Golden Egg?" was published this month.