I guess my future was all too predictable, as the only teachers I could look squarely in the eye at school were of the Art and English variety, Oh! and Biology but that’s because you got to draw cow’s hearts, frog’s giblets and stuff. I started illustrating in the 1980’s when it was hard to keep either your sleeves or your hair out of your work. Since then I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked for, I’ve lost count of how many, design and advertising agencies, as well as producing book jackets for numerous publishers. This has all been washed down with a gloriously giddy cocktail of magazine and newspaper titles, educational illustration and web imagery. I ran and worked in lovely mucky, paint splattered studios, full of art whiffs, spray, turps, paint, charcoal and, well, grubby artists. Now, when I think about it, I also can’t believe how many wonderful artists, art directors and designers I met over that time.
In around 2000 (I can’t bring myself to say early noughties) Wow! I went digital. Up until this moment I had painted most everything, which I loved. It has to be said, the learning curve was about as much fun as hitting yourself in the face with the sole of a golf shoe. But once I got going, well, a whole world opened up. Not only could I draw characters but I could animate them, make 3D models of them, have them talk, run, skip, BLOW THEM UP! So I joined a design agency for several thoroughly enjoyable years doing exactly that. This was far cry from what I was used to. Suddenly it was all clean chrome and the gentle hum of Macs, the only smell; coffee and whiteboard markers. This was the first time as a creative I had worked as a team and it was incredibly inspiring. It also gave me a significant insight into employing creatives and how to forge really strong and successful working relationships with both clients and artists. I suddenly knew what it was to be on the other end of the phone, what people actually wanted from me!
Curiously, over the years, I found myself more and more drawn to working on imagery for young children and teenagers. This, no doubt, has a lot to do with having children of my own, but also has a lot to do with rediscovering that sitting in a tree house, sucking your thumb and playing with Lego is pretty hard to beat. Yep! Latent regression. Never fight it.
So I left the agency world and threw myself a world of children’s illustration which in turn has led me to the door of Vicki and her team at Bright and a new and really exciting chapter.
These days I work from home in Sussex with my wife, son and cat Dillweed. I’m stuffed in my attic studio, away from the public gaze but with a cracking view of the Norman castle next door and a plate of biscuits in arms reach. I have a clean chrome section and a right royal bomb site of acrylics, watercolours and ink at the other end.
Just about right.