After taking redundancy in 2010 from a Swindon call-centre, I decided to pursue my dream job by applying for a place on the Children's Book Illustration MA course at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.
My 2014 debut, THE QUEEN'S HAT, was a Uni project inspired by a photo I'd chanced upon. It won the Oscar's First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. My Shaun the Sheep sculpture, based on THE QUEEN'S HAT, raised £15,000.00 for the Wallace and Gromit Children's Charity, and the book was adapted into a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra. A sequel and a three-quel have since published.
I've written and illustrated several other books, including the popular MR PANDA series, and I've illustrated a cover of the FAMOUS FIVE series and adapted Tim Minchin's WHEN I GROW UP into a picture book (to be published soon). My books have been translated into lots of different languages, and I'm currently working on future books in my little Swindon studio.
Here are a list of books I've written and illustrated:
THE QUEEN'S HAT
THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG
THE QUEEN'S PRESENT
PLEASE, MR PANDA
I'LL WAIT, MR PANDA
THANK YOU, MR PANDA
GOODNIGHT, MR PANDA (COMING SOON)
BETTY GOES BANANAS
BETTY GOES BANANAS IN HER PYJAMAS
MONSTER IN THE HOOD
GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES
UNPLUGGED (COMING SOON)
Here are the books I've illustrated:
FAMOUS FIVE: FIVE HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME (COVER)
TIM MINCHIN'S WHEN I GROW UP (COMING SOON)
I often don't use many colours mainly because I'm red-green colourblind.
I am a proud Patron of Swindon Libraries Children's Services.
I am represented by Elizabeth Roy.
My first year as a published author was pretty incredible.
I released three books, travelled to The Big Apple for a promo blitz, had my book read in 645 stores across the States at same time, and I even got to paint a Shaun the Sheep which ended up raising 15K for charity! Only a few years ago I was working in a call centre and all of this was just a fantasy.
Born in England and raised in New Mexico, I was the British kid that liked to draw.
I was criticised by some teachers for not using the 'right' colours. I found out I was red-green colour-blind around the age of seven, but this never deterred me from using colour in my artwork. In fact, it's kind of helped me find my own illustrator's voice.
I studied art at Cirencester College and Swindon College, and then I worked in a Swindon call centre for nine years while spending most of spare hours drawing and writing. Like many aspiring authors, I received lots of rejections.
In 2010 I took voluntary redundancy. In a leap of faith I applied for a place on the MA Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. I commuted six hours to Cambridge every Wednesday.
I graduated from Anglia Ruskin in 2013 with a Distinction and three picture books dummies: THE QUEEN'S HAT, PLEASE MR PANDA and GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES.
I left a part-time job as Special Needs Support Worker at Swindon College to work full-time as an writer-illustrator in the spring of 2014.
My debut, THE QUEEN'S HAT (a nostalgic and slightly bonkers celebration of Great Britain's biggest icons, which was simply inspired by a photograph in a newspaper) was published by Hodder Children's in May, 2014. The response surpassed all my expectations and led to many exciting opportunities. It won Oscar's First Book prize and became a top ten bestseller in Waterstones. It was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal, and it was shortlisted for a clutch of awards, including the Waterstones Children's Book Prize.
My third book, PLEASE MR PANDA (Jan '15) was 'Picture Book of the Week' in The Times (here in the UK) and 'Picture Book of the Month' in Barnes & Noble (over in the States). Barnes & Noble chose PLEASE MR PANDA for their very first nationwide Story Time event, which took place on the 10th of Jan at 10AM in 645 of their stores across the States.
In 2015 I released three picture books (in the UK 1st): BETTY GOES BANANAS IN HER PYJAMAS, THE QUEEN'S HANDBAG and GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES.
In 2016 I'LL WAIT, MR PANDA, MONSTER IN THE HOOD and THE QUEEN'S PRESENT published, along with a FAMOUS FIVE book I illustrated the cover of. I'm currently working on future book publications in my Swindon studio, including more Mr Panda books. Next year, I've got two new author-illustrator picture books coming out (THANK YOU, MR PANDA and UNPLUGGED) and my picture book collaboration with Tim Minchin: WHEN I GROW UP.
One of the most rewarding things about being a writer-illustrator is watching my books take on lives of their own. It's amazing to see how people connect and respond to the characters and stories in their own unique way.
I love meeting other authors, as well as booksellers, librarians, teachers and anyone passionate about sequential illustration.
My route to publication has not been easy. It's been a very long and circuitous, and so my advice to anyone with a lifelong dream is simple - never give up!
I am represented by Elizabeth Roy.
How I Work
I use graphite sticks and soft pencils for 99.9% of my illustrations, and I use Photoshop to add colour by deconstructing my drawings into layers (it's a bit like screen printing but without the mess). The style in which I render each illustration can sometimes vary from book to book. This is because I try and let the story influence the way in which I tell it.
The story has to tell the picture before the pictures can tell the story.
Here's a blog post about why I work the way that I do.