Me with my photograph by Chris Close at Edinburgh International Book Festival
Association of Illustrators Medal
D&AD Yellow Pencil Award in Illustration
National Trust Outdoor Book of the Year
Ordnance Survey Geovision Award
ALCS Education Book of the Year - shortlist
Klaus Flugge Prize - longlist
Here are some questions I've been asked by children
Q: Have you always drawn?
A: Yes for as long as I can remember I have drawn pictures. I started by ripping up cereal packets and boxes before school and drawing super heroes and castles and fire. Since discovering dip pens it's become a lot more messy which is quite frankly the most fun. If you haven't tried it you should. You can let the ink go for a walk and spill and splat about the place, it gets everywhere.
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: Yes, I have a cat (like a lot of illustrators) called Doctor Chaos (although I've never met another cat with the same name). We picked him up from Fife Cat Shelter, he was just called Chaos so we made him a Doctor. He likes to arm wrestle and he's been on the telly - BBC News no less, not for his arm wrestling prowess, it was a piece on how pets can help you in lockdown.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: It's great to put ideas in a notebook and save them for a rainy day. Hang on, that's where I keep ideas isn't it, not where they come from? So I'll have to say the end of a pencil, just keep writing and drawing and see what happens on the page. One thing can lead to another which you wouldn't have thought about if you hadn't thought about the other thing, or the thing before that, or something else. Keep reading, keep watching, keep listening, keep looking, keep playing, keep talking, keep drawing, keep still, keep quiet and something will likely happen. Or do something else and see what happens.
Q: Are you famous?
A: I've performed live on stage with Robert Plant (Anyone here remember the band Led Zepplin?) so Yes. But really no, (A) that doesn't make me famous, and (B) I was drawing Robert whilst sitting behind a very large speaker at the Cambridge Folk festival. We were at least performing our own respective separate art forms pretty close to each other on a stage, but it was much more (totally) Robert's gig, without a doubt and nobody saw me drawing. But it was great, I loved it.
Q: Are you successful?
A: Yes I draw a lot, I enjoy it, and just sometimes my pictures make me or other people laugh, smile, raise an eyebrow, blink, or think, or all five of these nearly all at once or never at all. I often make mistakes and the good thing about drawing is you can simply have another go right away. To my mind drawing is a good use of my time, I'm giving it a go, with ink, or a pencil, or whatever is at hand.
Q: What car do you own?
A: I have a nice Raleigh bike my friend put together for me. Does that count? Probably not, but bikes rule.
As the Boy Wonder on an early bike rocking my curtain cape - photo by Jon Blau
PS Nobody, not even Evel Knievel,
should attempt to read and ride.
Q: What's your favourite Children's book ?
A: I adore the Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl, the copy I had was the one with illustrations by Jill Bennett. As a picture book Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things is rather magical. I also have a soft spot for Fattypuffs and Thinifers by André Maurois and illustrations by Fritz Wegner. I was lucky enough to meet Fritz and get to know him a little. He let me interview him for The Cambridge School of Art's journal called 'Line' in 2001. You can read that interview here.
Q: Do you like cheese?
A: I ADORE cheese