Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an artist and as a child I was forever scribbling away. I also loved reading and I can still remember some of the wonderful illustrations I saw in a huge book of fairy tales by The Brothers Grimm.
I have illustrated a lot of fairy tales and I would love to think a child somewhere might be as smitten with one of my illustrations as I was so many years ago.
How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?
My first job after art college was designing postage stamps for the Commonwealth countries. Later I moved to a studio designing t-shirts and packaging before freelancing as a greetings card designer. But I always loved the idea of illustrating books so I wrote and illustrated a couple of stories and sent them to a book company and that was the start of my career as a children's book illustrator which has now stretched over 35 happy years and allowed me to illustrate over 600 titles.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
When I begin a new book I start by sketching the character in a variety of poses. The initial drawings are very sketchy but I build on the images and refine the drawings until I have characters I'm happy with. I also do a thumbnail of the background with the characters positions marked out then everything is scanned into Photoshop so I can play around with the composition.
Which project has been most instrumental in developing your personal style?
The creative advice and support I received whilst illustrating 6 titles for Little Tiger Publishing was enormously helpful in my development as an illustrator. My first book with them was 'The Very Noisy Jungle'.
Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.
I'm lucky to have worked for a number of publishers and it's good to build a relationship with each of them. Some I will work with for only one book and others with many books over many years.,Occassionally some publishers suggest new styles for me to try. This is really exciting and has allowed me to discover and add variety to my portfolio, so I have a number of options to offer.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
For anyone starting out as an illustrator I would say read the brief really carefully, ask questions if unsure about anything and never ever miss a deadline. And enjoy yourself because this is one of the most fun jobs in the world.