Currently Listening To: All the Agatha Christie audio books.
Favorite picture book when you were little: I loved all the Janet and Allan Ahlberg books, especially ‘Burglar Bill’.
tell us about yourself and the kind of work you create.
I’m a picture book author and illustrator from Edinburgh. My work is driven by stories – I’m not very good at making illustrations if I don’t have some sort of narrative in mind! I really enjoy playing with the way words and pictures interact and using printmaking and collage to create bold and colourful pictures.
what is your typical day like? are there any challenges that you face on a consistent basis?
My days vary a lot depending on what stage I’m at with a project. At the moment I am working on final artwork for a book so I am spending all my time lino-printing in my little studio at home. I love this stage where everything starts to come together, although it can be quite exhausting – especially when I’m on a deadline! When I am at earlier stages I like to mix things up a bit more – dividing my time between writing, doodling and experimenting. And I really like to get out and about as much as possible – whether that is to work in a cafe, go for a walk (the best place for a good think!) or to do some drawing.
you went from working in theatre to illustrating for children’s books – that’s quite a big change of scenery! what made you decide to make the move into kidlit and how did you go about it?
I went into theatre initially because I knew I enjoyed working with character and text, but as time went on I realised it wasn’t quite the right place for me… Then I started working on a portfolio so that I could apply for the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. It was the best decision I ever made, and I am so grateful for everything I learned there. When I graduated I started working with my agent and publisher and now I get to make books as my job – which really is a dream come true.
your books are full of wonderful printed textures and we know you’re an avid printmaker. do you have a favourite form of printmaking or a favourite way of making your textures?
I love working with lino, and the way it encourages me to be bolder with my illustrations. I can sometimes be a bit tentative when I am drawing, and I like the way that there are no half measures with lino! A lot of the life and texture in the work comes from the lack of control I have over the process, but there is a fine balance between keeping the life and losing the clarity of the image. I try to embrace that as much as possible but it can be a little frustrating when I am on a deadline and things don’t work out! I also try to play around with slightly different ways of working to keep things feeling fresh.
in your book ‘i am bat’ you tell the story of a bat who really loves cherries. if you were bat, what food would you be most protective over?
Oh my goodness, I really love food so this is a tricky question! When I was younger my brother once ate the last chocolate mousse and I felt pretty protective over that at the time! These days I love sharing food, but me and a couple of friends have been known to spend an embarrassingly long time working out how to cut something delicious into three exactly even pieces. Food is important!
this year you won the ukla award for your fantastic book ‘colin and lee, carrot & pea. do you have any specific plans for what you’d like to do next? any exciting projects you can share with us?
In the future I would really like to try working on something a bit longer – a young fiction or chapter book and find out how I might write and illustrate something like that.
what is the prettiest picture you’ve made recently?
I think the prettiest pictures I have been making are for a new book, which isn’t out until January – they have a bit more detail to them and I LOVE the colours I’ve been working with – rich oranges and blues with little pops of contrasting colours. I can’t show you any of the insides just yet but this is the cover which gives you a bit of a taster! It is called ‘Aalfred and Aalbert’ and is a love story about two boy aardvarks, with a lot of cheese and broccoli.