Author website/social media:
When you were my age, did you like to read?
I adored Richard Scarry’s Busy Day A-Z Book because of the amount of detail it contained. No matter how many times I dipped into it, I always spotted something new. I have chewed this book almost within an inch of it’s life I loved it so much.
What was your favorite story?
Dr. Suess ‘ Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are’ I believe the narrative is as poignant now as it was all those many *ehem years ago. I feel it’s so important to see the world as a bigger picture, see others struggles before your own and having a moment to put your worries into perspective I adored the fantastical creatures and environments he conjured up allowing me to be transported to another world. I feel this has given me permission to be much more creative as and author and artist.
How do you get your ideas, especially illustrating another author’s book?
When illustrating other authors book, I wait for the text to arrive and read and read and read it again until I almost know it verbatim and then instantly start sketching characters, scenes anything that arrives instantly. The words I read I see in pictures because I’m dyslexic-it’s a very useful tool to utilise. These early pencil sketches are lively, vibrant and full of energy that I try not to loose as I travel further down the editing, design path. These characters are taken to full colour and shared with the team and the author then I create the thumbnails, which are tiny pencil sketches of each individual page. Everyone comes together and agrees on a pathway forward then I create the full colour book (always with some small tweaks at the end but never too far from my first vision)
The snails are very detailed. How did you do it all?
After I’ve found out the individual characteristics of each snail I draw them in pencil. Here is a before and after shot of the snails. I scan the pencil drawing into Photoshop and then colour the snails digitally in many layers so at a moments notice I can change the colour of their jumper or size of the eyeballs!
What author do you really like right now?
Some career highlights have included working with the Gruffalos’ Julia Donaldson (Don’t Call Me Mum) and Sesame Street’s author Samantha Berger (Snail Mail) and I’ve had this special author on my bucket list forever, my writing mentor and all around mega-star, Vivian French. There are some more sensational ladies smashing the picture book scene right now that i’d LOVE to work with too, Lucy Rowland and Rachel Bright, they’re creating super smart, funny books with identifiable themes that are full-to-busting with real heart. I seriously admire all of these ladies talents.
Do you have any new or lesser known authors or illustrator you would suggest?
These are definitely not lesser known illustrators, but creatives who’s careers I’ve followed for a long time who are creating sensational picture books that I covet. Awards, accolades and world domination awaits them all. Roccio Bonilla, Kris Di Giacomo and Marianna Coppo.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author/illustrator?
Draw, write and create without constraints of any rules, freely, with all your heart and with the depths of your imagination. It doesn’t matter if you can’t spell, make sentences, let your creative spirit free. If you’re 4, 40 or 400 just simply write, draw, create and do it for you, not for a gold star or affirmation from anyone else. Carry a note book with you at all times and fill it with all your thoughts, ideas, scribbles and everything you see and feel. DON’T ever throw any ideas away, you’ll be amazed at ow often you re-visit and image or idea that was a seedling which when watered by time, confidence and experience that blossom into fully grown books. Remember that you are unique and let’s celebrate that. There’s a new initiative just about this very idea of creative freedom being launched by author Cressida Cowell called #FreeWritingFriday and I couldn’t be more delighted.
As an illustrator/author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
Yes, my readers are an utter delight sharing their photos and letters with me via social media sites. It makes me feel so happy to see how far reaching my work has traveled and who can identify with it all over the world. My books have been translated into many different languages and it’s a real treat to receive an note from anyone. I work alone in a my woodshed in rural Northumberland so anyone saying ‘hello’ makes my day.