How would you describe what you do?
I work as an illustrator, but do less editorial and advertising work these days and instead spend the vast majority of my time creating children’s books. I work with an old friend Dr Dominic Walliman on a series of science titles called Professor Astro Cat for Flying Eye Books. Last year, the first fictional children’s book that I both wrote and illustrated was published. Amazingly, I manage to pay rent from doing this.
What does a typical working day look like?
I aim to work from 9.30am until 6.30 or 7pm Monday to Friday. Being self-employed, I have to motivate myself and set routines. I have a morning ritual of listening to records. Each side of a record is about 15 to 20 minutes so it’s a nice way to measure how long I spend answering emails, reading the news and procrastinating. At the end of the first half of the second record, I stop what I’m doing and start drawing.
Unlike most editorial and advertising jobs, book projects are quite long so there is more room for experimenting and thinking about creative decisions. There’s still a deadline but it means my days can be quite flexible over a number of months. It means I can work on future ideas and be selective about what jobs I take on.
Where does the majority of your work take place?
In my studio in St Leonards. It’s a 30-minute walk along the seafront from my house in Hastings. The sea has a very calming influence on me, except in the winter when the rain is horizontal. My friend Tim works in the studio next door. I’m lucky to have a close friend around all day who constantly makes me laugh and shows me new things. The studio itself is in in an old town house hidden down an alley. In the summer, the alley is full of potted plants by one of the green-fingered neighbours and looks so beautiful that you might think you were somewhere in Italy. This illusion doesn’t last long when you walk back out onto the street with the drunks, betting shop regulars and dog poo.