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What do Caterpillars Dream of? Meet Bright Artist Clive McFarland

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Since Clive McFarland was little he only wanted to draw things. He grew up in Northern Ireland and studied at Liverpool School of Art and Design. Surviving endless paper cuts, he passed his degree and, after a series of other jobs, finally began working as an illustrator.We chatted with Clive about his latest publication, Caterpillar Dreams, a beautiful tale of a caterpillar who dreams of seeing the world beyond his garden. Caterpillar Dreams was met with rave reviews!

Bookpage says: “Each page of Clive McFarland’s Caterpillar Dreams delights readers with a colorful collage of images. Little Henri has personality to spare, and preschoolers and their parents will enjoy taking a romp with this bright-eyed, determined caterpillar.”

The book published in the US with HarperCollins on January 17, 2017, and in the UK on February 23, 2017, but even before it hit the shelves it was gaining buzz through a fantastic book trailer:

CATERPILLAR DREAMS by Clive McFarland – Book Trailer from Paper Panther on Vimeo.

This new book of yours is all about dreaming big! Did you always dream of becoming an illustrator?

It wasn’t until university that I realized being an illustrator is what I wanted to do. But an early love of reading books and drawing pictures is where it began!

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Tell us about the journey of working on this book. How did your ideas and processes change at all throughout the path from your initial concept to publication?

The tone of the story remains true to my initial concept, but it has developed and changed along the way. I enjoy working with people who will question my ideas and take me in directions I might not have considered. My work is better when I’m collaborating with people whose vision I trust.


My editor on this book, David Linker, is a brilliant writer. We worked a lot on the story together. Then we worked closely with designer Rachel Zeger through the process of bringing the story to life in the art. I worked with David and Rachel on my first book too.

My agent Anne Armstrong helps nourish and tighten the initial concept and helps me develop any new story ideas I might have!

Your artwork is done in cut paper, can you explain how you work in that medium to create your artwork and was there any new technique you discovered as you created the art for Caterpillar Dreams?

It always starts with sketches in pencil and on paper/sketchbooks. Then I create hand painted textures, sometimes cutting paper by hand but often cutting the shapes in photoshop from the textures. The final illustrations were composed digitally. I hope to keep learning and developing my creative process and feel I’m only getting started.

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A page from Clive’s sketchbook.


A glimpse into the cut paper process.

What is it like to grow up in Northern Ireland?

I grew up during a time of political progress in Northern Ireland. In some ways we remain a divided society but we are heading in the right direction. I think storytelling is ingrained in the Irish upbringing, especially in rural areas. There is a respect for books, stories and art and you are never too far from an inspiring natural landscape. The illustration scene in Belfast is really finding its feet at the moment so it’s a good time to be here.

What type of stories do you want to tell?

I try to create stories that are hopeful and honest. I don’t want to contribute anything overly cynical or negative in tone to a children’s bookshelf.


What next?

I’m putting the finishing touches to a counting book called “One Leaf, Two Leaves,” based on a poem by John Micklos Jr., which will be published by Penguin USAwith Nancy Paulsen Books. I am also continuing to write my own stories.

Also be sure to check out The Fox and the Wild, Clive’s author-illustrated book that published with Templar Publishing on June 30, 2016. The Bookworm Baby blog called the book, “A joyous read with lovely colourful illustrations that are sure to make you a fox lover.”
Clive McFarland is represented by Bright

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