Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I knew I liked drawing and enjoyed comics and animation but I wasn't aware that Illustration was actually a career path until my foundation art course! (i'm from a town where 'artist' isn't really seen as a viable career for most people) It was one of my tutors from the course who suggested it as an option at University and a whole new world was opened up to me!
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
Yes, I did a 2 year foundation in Art & Design after school and then went on to do a BA in illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. I have recently been topping up my experience with a few short courses.
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
I currently live in beautiful Vancouver, Canada which is a world away from where I grew up in Yorkshire, UK!
Was creativity part of your childhood?
Yes, I was always actively encouraged by my parents and teachers to be creative and was forever drawing and making things.
Have you always loved to draw?
I have loved to draw since I could hold a pencil! I had a period in my late 20's where it fell to the wayside a little but I rediscovered my love for it a few years later!
Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?
The work of Hayao Miyazaki has been a huge influence on me and Japanese art in general. Also the French comic book artist Moebius, the work of Brian Froud and Jim Henson (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth).
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
I would say anything by Roald Dahl that was illustrated by Quentin Blake, Where the Wild Things Are, The Worst Witch, anything by Janet & Allan Ahlbergh and The Hobbit
Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?
one of the first picture books I remember is 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' - no wonder its still a classic to this day! One of my favourites picture books is 'Angry Arthur' illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. I love the level of detail he puts into his images.
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
A commission to design illustrations for greeting cards with a 'SATC' vibe - not at all for children!
Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.
I work exclusively digitally these days, with an Ipad and apple pencil. I wouldn't say it is perfected by any means though. As an artist I am constantly learning and evolving new ways to make work.
What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?
My Ipad pro and apple pencil and the Procreate app have all become pretty essential!
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I love working digitally because theres so many possibilities and its easy to backtrack if you mess up or want to change something
Do you keep a sketch book?
Not at the moment but it's a practice I should probably start again.
Tell us about the creation of your favourite character from one of your books.
Maddie from 'Maddie Makes a Movie and Maddie Makes Money' was alot of fun to create. She is based on the authors daughter so I already had a basis of what she needed to look like and I just make a slightly wilder version of her
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
it depends, sometimes it comes out right first time and sometimes it takes several attempts
Have you ever thought about trying out a different technique or a different style?
At the moment I am actually learning lots more about lighting and colour theory. my original style was very line art based with mostly flat colour and I decided I wanted to push it in a different direction. (images from a lighting course I did earlier in the year)
What do you hope children take away from your drawings?
A sense of wonder and magic and that the imagination is a powerful thing
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to get out into nature whenever I can, biking, walking or just hanging out on the beach. luckily living in Vancouver makes this pretty easy! I also love to travel and see new places but theres not much of that happening right now!
What is your favourite children’s book and why?
'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman is an amazing piece of storytelling. Gaiman is a master at making his creations come to life using only words. I read this book and see the world in my head as clear as day.
Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
sometimes they are inspired by real people, sometimes by fictional characters and sometimes they are completely from my own imagination
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
keep on learning new things and don't allow yourself to stagnate.