I was sitting at my desk at art school, way back in the late seventies, trying to feel inspired about the latest college design project while idly drawing funny animals in the margins of my note book, when one of the illustration tutors, a fine illustrator of children's books in his own right called Fritz Wegner, looked over my shoulder and said something along the lines of.
"Why don't you do that sort of thing as your course work? You could you know."
I was nonplussed. I think I stuttered something like, "Are you sure that would be all right?".
I was in shock. I mean, it was bit like someone telling you that you could watch telly and eat ice cream as a degree project, and that nobody would mind! Or something. . . Not only were the drawings very simple, they were funny. Two things which don't get you taken seriously in the usual course of events. But in the world of children's books, these are pretty much a requirement. I had found my home.
So I started an illustration project based on the idea of nonsense poems, which I decided to write myself. This became my first ever book, "A Bad Case of Animal Nonsense", published by the late Vanessa Hamilton at J.M.Dent. God bless you, Vanessa!
I wrote and illustrated several books over the next few years, while at the same time trying to get somewhere as a musician (bass), and co-running a small recording studio from a house in South London. I eventually decided to pursue my writing and illustrating career full time as it actually paid, and deep down I knew I was better at it than I was at audio engineering and bass playing. And anyway the music industry was pretty horrible.
It wasn't a hard decision. I really enjoyed my children's book work and had just had a book co-published in the USA and Japan. So that's what I have done ever since. I get paid to draw funny animals. I even earn a living at it. I still can't quite believe it.
Embarrassingly enough, I have only just read the reviews of my books that Amazon readers have left over the years. I feel very ashamed at not doing this before, as there are some really heart warming things in there. I have come over all humble and am emitting a warm glow from inside that could help heat a small town. Thank you very much. It is very nice to realise that the work I have done, on my own, behind my studio desk, has the power to touch other people and even help people discover the wonders of reading.
If you want actual biography stuff, here it is.
I was born in 1957 (Yes I know it's a long time ago. I can count. Unfortunately.) In the quaint market town of Luton.
OK, scrub the 'quaint' bit.
My dad worked in the bank. He was transferred to a branch in Cambridge when I was about 13 so we moved.
I went to Impington Village College, where I did my O and A levels, and thanks to an inspiringly eccentric Art teacher called Ray Malmstrom, I became interested in drawing and painting. With a bit of encouragement, I applied for a place on the Art foundation course at Cambridge Tech, as it then was. I didn't think that 'people like me' whatever that means, went to Art School, so I was surprised when I got in. I was even more surprised when, after my foundation year ended, I was accepted on the Graphics course at St Martins College of Art in London.
That takes you neatly full circle, to the top of this bio.
Best wishes to you all, assuming any one reads this.