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Nick Sharratt needs little introduction with books going down a storm time and time again. He has written and illustrated many books for children, and also enjoys great success illustrating books for Jacqueline Wilson and Jeremy Strong.
He was born in 1962 and trained at the St Martin’s School of Art. Inspired by 1960s pop and graphic art, his work is instantly recognisable for its bold images and punchy colours. With lots of moving tabs, flaps to lift and other interactive features, as well as exciting wordplay and cheeky humour, Nick’s books let children discover all the different ways in which books and words can work.
He lives and works in Brighton, in a studio overlooking the sea.
Nick has won numerous awards for his picture books, including the Sheffield Children’s Book Award for A Cheese and Tomato Spider and the Nottingham Children’s Book Award for Elephant Wellyphant.
Interview with Nick Sharratt
How do you decide which bits of a book to illustrate?
I read the manuscript at least 3 times to get a good feel of the book and note down any important physical descriptions the author’s included. Then I decide if it’s a book that needs lots of pictures or just a few. As a general rule the more funny bits in the story the more illustrations it’s likely to get. (I’m happier illustrating humorous passages of text than very serious ones). Then I go through the story again and mark the sections I think would be good for illustrating. Sometimes the author will let me know if there’s anything that he or she is very keen on having illustrated but usually it’s up to me.
Do you work closely with the author to decide what a character looks like?
Usually I find that the author will have described a character in quite a lot of detail by the time I’ve read right to the end of the story and that gives me plenty of information as to how to draw that character. If there’s not much physical description I go on the personality described and try to come up with a person who looks right for that personality. Very occasionally, I might think of some detail, a hairstyle perhaps, that I think would work better in the illustrations than the one described in the text and I might suggest it to the author, but that very rarely happens.
Any advice for aspiring Illustrators?
It’s what everyone says but the best thing you can do is lots and lots and lots and lots of drawing.
Look at the work of other artists but try to draw from your own observations of the world, using your own imagination and ideas rather than copying someone else’s. Try to complete your drawings. Join an art group, which is what I did when I was a teenager. Enter any art competitions that you come across. And stick at it!