Behind the Book | Chris Jevons
last updated 26 June 2020
Chris Jevons’ latest picture book is full of comical characters and cheeky charm. We caught up with Chris to find out about his artist journey and the brilliance behind his hilarious new book 101 Bums (written by Sam Harper, published by Hodder Children’s Books).
What was your creative process for illustrating 101 Bums?
Hachette asked me to design a few sample characters to pitch for a rhyming picture book, originally titled Jiggly Bums. The text written by Sam Harper was extremely funny and I knew I’d have a lot of fun illustrating all of the crazy characters!
I began by sketching the T-rex and little mouse for the text ‘big bum and little bum,’ along with the mammoth and a prickly hedgehog. Once the pencil sketches were approved, I coloured the art digitally.
When 101 Bums was given the go-ahead, my fab designer Katie sent me the text layouts. Hachette gave me a lot of creative freedom which was a lot of fun!
To illustrate this picture book, I began by quickly doodling rough thumbnail character designs. Once I was happy with thumbnails, I illustrated neater sketches to show Hachette. Once the sketches were approved, I coloured the interiors and cover digitally, using my Wacom Drawing tablet in Photoshop.
WIP sketches vs the final image from 101 Bums
What was your favourite bum to illustrate in the book? Where there any particularly hard bums to draw?
The T-rex was definitely one of my favourite animal bums to draw! Who doesn’t love a T-rex jiggling his bum? I’ve always enjoyed drawing dinosaurs since I was a child. I’m a big fan of the Baryonyx which was first discovered in 1983, the year after I was born (yes, I’m getting old!). I managed to draw a Baryonyx riding a skateboard later in 101 Bums !
As for the most difficult to draw? For some reason, I did struggle to get the mammoth bum right! I was given some amusing feedback from my designer: ‘The mammoth’s bum looks a bit too much like testicles!’
Where do you do your best creative work?
I work from my home and I am surrounded by books and artwork. On my desk, I have my 27” iMac and Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet. I do the majority of my artwork and research here. I occasionally doodle in a sketchbook and I’ll take photos with my iPhone to use later for colour and reference. I also bought an iPad and Apple Pencil with the intention of drawing in coffee shops etc, but I seem to gravitate to drawing on my Wacom mostly.
Were you artistic as a child? Where did the creativity all begin?
I was definitely artistic as a child. My family and teachers encouraged me to draw and I was the arty kid in my primary school. I grew up in the 80s and I was inspired by all of the Saturday morning cartoons such as Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When I visited my Grandparents, they always saved the cardboard from cereal packets, just in case I ran out of paper!
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Don’t give up! Keep practicing and have fun! Creating artwork can be a slow and often a painstaking process. Take regular breaks and if something isn’t looking right or working, come back to it later. There are so many great online resources and the art community is generally very helpful and friendly on Twitter and Instagram.
Why, as an artist, is it important to have a creative community around you?
The creative community is very important to me! Thanks to Twitter, I’ve become friends with other author and illustrators. It’s great to share tips and tricks and chat over a nice hot cup of tea and chocolate biscuit.
Hachette have also recently opened new office in Manchester and founded Children’s Books North on social media. It’s great to have a Northern hub for children’s book community and it’s exciting to see how things will develop!
Other books illustrated by Chris
How has Bright made a difference to your career?
Bright has made a massive difference to my career. Before I joined Bright, I had to juggle finding work, pitching for projects and invoicing - all the stuff illustrators are pretty rubbish at!
When I joined Bright, I began illustrating educational projects and book covers, whilst slowly learning the ropes. As my skills improved, so did the frequency in jobs. I’ve now illustrated well over 50+ books (I’ve lost count!) and I’m now busier than ever!
Bright have been fantastic helping me develop my portfolio, and find me amazing book projects. I’ve now had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest publishers from around the world and I’m lucky enough to be illustrating amazing picture books, including 101 Bums! I’m just completing my fifth trade picture book, with many more in the future.
I feel very lucky to be part of the industry and to work with so many lovely authors and publishers. Big thanks to my agents, particularly Robyn Newton, Nicky Lander and Freddie Dawson for taking the time to help me develop my picture book artwork portfolio. I’ve got many more exciting picture books in the works; if you like 101 Bums, be sure to look out for 101 Spooky Bums near Halloween 2020!
Can you tell us what to expect next from you?
I’m lucky to be illustrating several exciting picture books and fiction titles. I’m currently finishing the first title in a series of fiction books for Walker, called Theodora Hendrix and the Monstrous League of Monsters. Written by Jordan Kopy, Theodora has a fab gothic world full of zombie’s and monsters!
I’m also working on several exciting picture books with Egmont and Hachette, including a new series written by Peter Bently!
You can see more of Chris’s work in his portfolio.