Monday, 20 March 2017

5 Minutes with... Neil Clark

Today we're very excited to be catching up with our newest PP artist, Neil Clark! From his work with Tigerprint, to his journey into illustration and his advice for aspiring illustrators, let's take five to learn a little more about Neil...

Where do you live/work?

I live in Rodley, on the edge of Leeds, somewhere between the rolling hills and the bustling city. I like the balance. When I'm illustrating greeting cards, I work in the lovely Tigerprint Studio, near Bingley. Otherwise, you'll find me beavering away at home, tucked away in my spare room/studio.


What do you like about working there?

Tigerprint has been great to me over the years. It's inspiring to work in a big studio surrounded by so many like-minded, vibrant creatives. In contrast, when I'm working for myself at home, it's quiet and peaceful. There's something comforting and magical about that alone time - moments to truly get lost and absorbed in your work - and I do get welcome distractions from my cat, Mila.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

When you’re fully engrossed in the process - I love that moment when something you're working on suddenly sparks and you can't wait for it to all fall into place. And of course, when you see your illustrations on products, in the shops and with happy customers!

How do you work – what are your techniques?

Everything starts life in a sketchbook, or in a layout pad / on the back of an envelope. By sketching I can create a vision, not only amongst the scribbles, but also in my mind - something to aim for I guess. Then it's onto the Mac… I can't imagine life without Illustrator and Photoshop! I guess my technique is often to combine bold vector shapes with hand drawn line, mark making or texture. It depends on the brief though - one job can be very clean and graphic, and the next really inky and messy!



What is your favourite thing to draw and why?

It changes all the time. At the moment its rabbits!

If you had to choose, what would be your favourite character you have created?

I've got to say Rusty the Robot - I love that guy!



What or who are you most inspired by?

Gig posters, books, comics, people watching, travelling, music, so much music, my many  talented friends, and my super talented wife Dalia - she's always bursting with creativity which is infectious!

Do you have a favourite illustrator?

Such a hard question! At the moment I can't get enough of Chris Sasaki, Ben Newman, Jon Klassen, Robert Hunter, Malika Favre… I could go on and on.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?

I love to skateboard. It's just the best feeling. And I'm in a band. We're called The Razerbills, we wear masks, capes and fezzes and play wild instrumental surf garage!



How did you get into illustration?

I studied Illustration at Manchester Met, it was great, I loved it, but it didn’t prepare me for the working world! I spent months struggling for work, and getting rejections, before Tigerprint gave me a break and I started helping out in their studio. Since then I’ve spent years learning about commercial design, building skills, building contacts, and generally putting in the hard graft.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

No matter how many knock-backs, be confident in your abilities… it’ll show in your work.  Don’t stop learning new skills – it’s what keeps things exciting. 
And like that poster says… Don’t be a dick, just be nice, it’s that easy. Haha.

What were your favourite books when you were younger?

The books that jump to mind are The Jolly Postman, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and those Usborne Books of Monsters and UFO’s.



What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

It was The Bear & the Piano by David Litchfield. I got a signed copy when I visited the Seven Stories Children’s Book Centre in Newcastle. An amazing place, and an amazing book – I love it! The last adult book I read was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I just love his style. I must admit, I’m not a huge reader of novels, but his use of words is amazing. I’d recommend any of his books for some beautifully written magic realism.

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017?

I can see it being a busy one! I want to get as many pieces of work out there in the world for people to enjoy as i can. There’s a few projects on the go already that I’m excited about.

What’s your ultimate dream?

To stay happy and creative I guess. To create characters and illustrations that travel far and wide! Getting some more children’s books under my belt would be amazing. For children to look back in years to come, with fond memories of my illustrations, would be a dream come true!


We really hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Neil! We're so excited to have him with us at PP, and if you want to see more of his amazing work, head to Neil's PP folio page here!


Monday, 13 March 2017

Alison Brown's Illustrated Window!


On Friday, Alison Brown took to decorating the window of the wonderful Grove Bookshop in Ilkley! With the help of local primary school children, who coloured flowers for the display, the window came to life with the characters from two of Alison's books: The mouse pair from 'I’ll Love You Always', and the bears from 'I’ll Never Let You Go'! We thought we'd share with you some pictures from the process!






The finished window!

Friday, 10 March 2017

5 Minutes with... Ana Gomez

In today's instalment of the '5 Minutes with..' series, we're catching up with Ana Gomez from her home in Madrid! From her favourite childhood (and current!) illustrators, to the inspiration behind her fantastic illustrations, lets get to know a little more about Ana...

Where do you live/work?

I live in the centre of Madrid. I work at home in a tiny, sunny room. My views are as though I'm in a village but actually I'm in the centre of the city. I love that.



What do you like about working there?  

There's so much culture here! I live in a very lively neighbourhood, where all the main museums and cultural centres are. I like to stay at home, so I have all I need. I can sing really loud without disturbing anyone...



What do you love most about being an illustrator? 

Imagining… characters, situations, scenarios.

How do you work – what are your techniques? 

Firstly, I do the sketches with pencil on paper, then I scan the sketches and I make the illustrations completely digital. I used to work with an Intuos tablet, but recently I have bought a digital screen. 

What is your favourite thing to draw and why? 

Animals (including fantasy ones!) and kids!!


If you had to choose, what would be your favourite character you have created?

A friendly Dragon I did for a book called “Campfire Tail” by Sterling publishing. I just 
adore it ! (A Campfire Tail will be published in May 2018 - keep an eye out for Dragon!) 

What or who are you most inspired by? 

I'm inspired by kids, humour, books (not necessarily with pictures), everyday life and movies amongst many other things.





Do you have a favourite illustrator? 

I have lots of them. There's so many good illustrators out there. I love the humour of Quentin Blake and Tony Ross.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 

Spend time with my kid, travel, read, paint ... 



How did you get into illustration? 


Through working hard and perseverance.

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators? 

Keep going, keep learning, keep enjoying!

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

"The Witch's Handbook" by Malcom Bird:


“The Fantastic Adventures of the Untamable Little Man” by Hans Traxler


“I'm a fish” illustrated by J.R. S├ínchez


What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

It was a comic called “Skibber Bee-Bye”. Is a unique story with a personal look and it's told in a very different way. The main character is so well constructed. Very inspiring!

What are your aspirations for the rest of 2017? 

I would like to create my own picture book. As an author and illustrator.

What’s your ultimate dream?

In the illustration field …to just keep enjoying.


We really hope you've enjoyed catching up with Ana and learning a little more about her life as a children's illustrator! To see more of Ana's work, you can visit her PP folio pages here, or visit Ana's website here!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Fantastically Great Women's Day!

We're elated to see that Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, written and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst, hit number 2 on Amazon's best sellers list this morning! This incredible news follows yesterday's International Women's Day, and we're so glad that the stories of these inspirational women are being shared! 






Monday, 6 March 2017

Christine Pym & Kate Pankhurst long-listed for SLA award!

We are very excited to announce that titles illustrated by Christine Pym & Kate Pankhurst have been long-listed for the SLA Information Book Award!  The School Library Association have said of this year's entries ‘The submissions for the award this year include more really impressive very well created and presented books than ever before." We can't wait to find out the short list in a few weeks, and will have our fingers crossed for Christine and Kate! 


'Where do babies come from', illustrated by Christine and published by Usborne, has been entered into the Under 7's category!


'Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World', written and illustrated by Kate and published by Bloomsbury,  is in the 7-12 category!


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day all! We hope you're suitably dressed up, or deciding what it is you'll be settling down to read tonight! Whether you're looking for your next captivating character or stunning picture book, why not check out these newly release titles, beautifully illustrated by PP artists...



Tiger Tiger
Jonny Lambert
Little Tiger Press


Hugs and Kisses
Judi Abbott
Simon & Schuster


My Tail's Not Tired
Paula Bowles
Child's Play



Marge and the Pirate Baby
Eglantine Ceulemans 
Piccadilly Press


I'll Love You Always
Alison Brown
Bloomsbury Children's UK

We hope you get the chance to enjoy one of these amazing titles, but whatever it is you're reading, have a wonderful World Book Day from all of us here at PP! 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Jonny and Alison at Cardiff Children's Literature Festival!

Amongst many other fab events at Cardiff Children's Literature Festival this March, on the 26th you can attend workshops run by wonderful PP artists Jonny Lambert and Alison Brown!! 

Jonny will be showing you how he creates his amazing animal characters, as well as the inspiration behind his most recent title Tiger Tiger, you can get your tickets here!


Alison will be reading Little Owl's Egg, a heart-warming story about the arrival of a new sibling, as well as organising lots of crafts to take part in, tickets for this event can be found here!

We really hope you get the chance to pop along to one of these workshops and meet the artists if you're in the area! Be sure to let us know on twitter (@Plum_Agency) if you're heading to the festival, we'd love to see your pictures!