When following guidlines dulls your shine…

 Earlier today I was pottering about in Waterstones, looking at the latest children’s book publications. 

I came across these two:

 What struck me most about them as how they didn’t seem to adhere to the illustration guidlines that industry folk would encourage. 

For a start, the colour palettes were very left of field. One used a lot (!) of heavy black outlines in the artwork and the other, a very muted palette.

Both of these things are heavily discouraged in my experience of childrens book illustration 

I had even battled with changing my own illustration style more recently off the back of hearing that black is too harsh for a child’s eyes. My style is very scratchy and messy and dependant on black ink. It is, of course, inspired by the work of Quentin Blake who uses a lot of scratchy black outline. I had started thinking that maybe that style is more suited for the older market? I wondered, If my work is not fit for purpose. 

Then I saw this…Comfortingly heavy black lines!

It can be quite confusing when publishers and agents advise a standardised, look, feel and structure but what they really want is something brave enough and bold enough to flout the guidelines. And I know that’s a bold statement – I’m not going to tone it down.

To summise, learn the rules so at least you can count how many you want to break 😉 


Taking bad selfies. (Not all I produce will be good)


What makes a good artist? I had always thought it’s the type of person who could produce an impressive piece of work at the drop of a hat channeling concentrated talent. Effortless. Right? No, you fool – WRONG.

The difference between a successful artist and a woefully middle of the road one in my opinion is the T word. Not talent though, tenacity. 

The ability to keep producing work even though the last few pieces were terrible.