I was born in Edinburgh in Scotland and raised in the south of England where I now currently live in Surrey with my husband and daughter. I have had the pleasure of working as a freelance illustrator for over 17 years and in that time illustrated more than 48 picture books, board books and early reader novels. My books have been published in 41 different countries and translated into 40 different languages, including ones from my family roots of Scottish Gaelic and Danish, so it’s always great to hear from readers from far flung places. In addition I have also created work for magazines, educational and greeting card publications.
I began my illustration training when I drew every night in bed as a girl on a little chalk board until everything was blue, pink or yellow much to the frustration of my mother. My parents’ back garden was like a small woodland and with it came lots of wildlife and so I was always chasing something or examining some creepy crawly much to the horror of the rest of my family. When I was asked by my teachers and other kids if I was going to be an artist when I grew up, my reply was usually ‘No way, I am going to be a vet!’ To the relief of many animals it dawned on me that was much better at drawing animals than examining them.
After completing a HND in Graphic Design at Cumbria College of Art and Design, and briefly living in the Cayman Islands I went on to study Illustration at John Moores University from where I graduated in 1992 with BA Hons (2:1) degree in illustration.
At the time the internet was a far off dream and freelancing seemed like a total mystery. Combined with the pressure of earning a living, I fell into graphic design for a few years, working on products for children. This in the long run proved a useful training ground for a wannabe illustrator. In between utterly deathly boring changes to packaging designs I secretly scribbled in my notebook. I would amuse myself with my imagination let loose, my world started to unfold with images of pigeons, gorillas and daft fairies. It was either that or find myself snoring on the keyboard. As my passion for my alternative world developed, I formed a cunning plan to escape drudgery and vowing to never commuting on that hellish road the M25 ever again.
Then I plunged myself into creating a new portfolio of illustrations and research. After I had started contacting potential clients, it was a case of sit and wait for that phone to ring.
In the spring of 2002 I briefly met Little Tiger Press at the London book fair, after a series of very happy accidents and a chance meeting on a tube train. Then one day in early 2002 the call came that I had been looking for, it was from Little Tiger Press to ask to meet me. They asked me to try and create a soft looking style, which if successful, could be used for a particular book they in mind. So I began the process of convincing them that I was worth a punt and after one small woodland’s worth of paper later, I had produced enough illustrations to convince them to give me a contract for one book deal.
That first picture book was ‘One Snowy Night’, written by M Christina Butler, about a Little Hedgehog, her first book about a Little Hedgehog in a red bobble hat. It is still in print today and has spawned a 13 book series with sales of over 2 million copies worldwide to date and counting. It also kick started my freelance illustration career and further commissions so I am very thankful to that little prickly fellow.
Clients: Little Tiger Press, Lion Hudson, Gullane Children’s Books, Cbeebies magazine, WHSmiths, Hardie Grant, Piccadilly Press, Modern Times, Tiger Tales, World Vision and many more.
Events: Edinburgh book festival 2007 and 2010, Wigtown Book festival 2012.
I continues to illustrate picture books today and provide guidance and advice to budding authors and illustrators when possible.