Anna Doherty is an author illustrator from Edinburgh, whose work grabbed the attention of publishers at her Children's Book Illustration MA graduation show from Cambridge School of Art. Her final year project on Ada Lovelace was picked up by Wren and Rook and was transformed into the successful Fantastically Feminist series. Since then, Anna has enjoyed working across a range of projects featuring illustrations that are full of warmth, humour and adorable characters.
June 2013: David talks for TedX in his home town of Bedford.
May 2014: David joins Bright having been spotted by Anne Moore Armstrong.
“I’m going to let you into a secret now, but when I quit my full time job to become an illustrator in January 2014 I was completely terrified.
But suddenly from out of the blue I received a message from Anne Moore Armstrong who had seen some of my work on twitter and asked if I would be interested in signing for Bright and developing ideas for picture books.
And all my worries went away.” David Litchfield
[From Art School to Publication: Why Having an Agent is Key . . . read full article]
September 2015: Frances Linclon publishes The Bear and the Piano, which has now been translated into over ten languages and a beautiful electronic sounds book to boot!
April 2016: David Wins The Waterstones Book Prize in best Illustrated Picture Book category.
A Bear in every window for 2016 as David tours the UK with The Bear and the Piano.
April 2017: David’s second self-penned picture book, Grandad’s Secret Giant is launched at The Bright Emporium with Frances Lincoln.
June 2017: A Giant in every bookshop window across the UK and even a mural on a school wall!
July 2017: Camp Bestival with a live perfomance of The Bear and his Band!
September 2017: The Bear and the Piano is made into an animated film by Carrot Productions and goes on tour with The Snowman this Christmas along with full orchestra and narration by Joanna Lumley. Read more here.
November 2017 Grandad’s Secret Giant and The Building Boy nominated for a Kate Greenaway Award 2018.
There is so much more than this — and if you’d like to have a look, visit David’s blog here.
If you’d like to work with David, you can reach him via his agent, Anne Moore Armstrong here.
An illustrator with a back catalogue of fantastic books to his name, not to mention other exciting creative projects, we were delighted to welcome Aaron Blecha to The Bright Agency back in March of this year. With an exciting creative project currently under way with the Sea Life Centre in Brighton, and a forth-coming exhibition of his work at the Hove Museum and Art Gallery in February 2018, he is not only a successful working illustrator, but he is exploring the boundaries outside of children’s book illustration.
Where did it all begin – in terms of becoming an artist?
From an early age, I was always drawing and working on projects of my own — lots of castles, pirates, monsters, and Star Wars aliens. I was a student with pretty average grades so luckily I had art to carry me through and keep me interested. I had an inspiring art teacher in high school who let us explore our style rather than demand you stick to specific rules (Captain Calamari was the title of my comic book senior project). After university, I worked as a graphic designer and then a 2D animator, but I’ve now been a freelance illustrator / character designer for over 12 years.
What possessed you to leave sunny California to come to the mostly grey UK?!
Ha ha! Well, after living in San Francisco for many years I met a nice English woman there that talked me into moving to London with her! I have always been interested in the European lifestyle and backpacked around here a bit, so I was up for a new adventure (although I didn’t realise how grey the summers could be)! That nice English woman is now my wife and after five years in London and wanting to start a family, we moved down to Hove. We love it down here — lots of creative people/events around, all surrounded by inspiring coastal and hilly scenery everywhere — a little like San Francisco!
You’ve worked on projects for companies like Disney – are you able to talk a bit about that and what you’ve worked on there?
Sure — sometimes I’m hired to help design characters for television development pitches for studios (Disney TV, Cartoon Network, Curious Pictures, eOne Family). There’s usually a cartoon pitch already written and they need an artist to bring the characters to life. I enjoy the process of working with a team of writers and creative people to find the personality of the show. Like many development projects, none of the pitches I worked on made it to production but they are still super fun to work on.
I also work on other fun side projects like creating zombie, dinosaur and monster-filled art for stickers, cards and temporary tattoos for a variety of companies.
Can you talk about your influences in terms of style, other artists you like – say from books or comics from your childhood to present day.
I’d say my influences are mostly Mercer Mayer’s early monster books, Sendak’s seminal Where the Wild Things Are, Paul Galdone’s scratchy, creepy folktale stories (Tailypo) and Richard Scarry’s fun creature-filled worlds are still influential.
I would especially say Mercer Mayer has a lot influence on me as an artist. He created such a rich world of goofy characters and monsters that still live with me to this day.
I have two young daughters so I now have extra incentive to keep up on new picture books and their creators too. I love the humour and characters in Mo Willems’ and Jon Klassen’s books.
I’m also influenced by a lot of other creators and concept artists outside of children’s publishing — Marc Davis (Disney Imagineer), Jim Henson (Muppets genius), Ralph McQuarrie (original Star Wars concept artist), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight), Charles R. Knight (vintage dinosaur artist), Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) to name a few.
Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show
UK and US markets differ quite significantly sometimes in terms of trends in publishing: Do you find that working as an illustrator in the Uk means a change in perspective in terms of what publishers are looking for?
Yes, definitely. The majority of my projects have been from the States, but I’m gradually now working on more UK books. I’ve been told I have an American style, which I think comes from my years working in animation and what entertainment I consumed while I was growing up. As time goes by, I’m still keeping true to my outlook and style but I’ve been altering some character proportions and mixing up the media I use to create my art. I think my style works well with middle grade books and I’ve been lucky to work on several long running book series in America: George Brown, Class Clown (Penguin) and Shark School (Simon & Schuster). I have just started to work on the super fun series, Dino Wars, here in the UK. I’m looking forward to engaging more with readers and book stores here rather than being far away across the ocean!
What aspect of your job do you most enjoy?
I absolutely love the initial spark of visualising new characters and their undiscovered world. I’ve authored and illustrated two books for HarperCollins that follow a bear named Grizzle Grump on his adventures to find a quiet place to hibernate (Goodnight, Grizzle Grump!) and then when we finally wakes up, his journey to find a springtime snack (Good Morning, Grizzle Grump!)
The problem solving on how an illustration creatively fits on a page is a fun challenge too. I also enjoy the last few days of project where I add finishing touches like shadows, highlights and textures to my illustrations.
I also love a good cover design project- I just finished one titled Margot & Mateo Save the World!
What are you looking for in future projects?
I’m interested in projects that are fun and funny that take place outside of the normal events of day to day life!
I’m busily working away on my upcoming exhibition at Hove Museum titled Aliens, Zombies & Monsters! The show starts in February 2018 and will run for six months. My sketchbooks and illustrations showing the process of creating children’s books will be displayed alongside 3D models of my aliens, zombies and monsters – there will be strong emphasis on interactivity and fun for all age groups. Stay tuned for more news and hope to see you there!
My huge thanks to Aaron, and we recommend his exhibition if you’re in the south of England, it’s going to be great fun!
If you’d like to work with Aaron, you can get in touch via his agent Arabella Stein here.
Every October in the UK, for the past 30 years, we’ve remembered Black History and commemorated achievements made by people of colour. Not so long ago, America saw its first black President. From that incredible shift in history came quite a blow, as in the US, Trump came to power, whilst over in the UK we battle on in the face of Brexit.
Art Is Never the Easy Option, Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Differently . . .
Mark Chambers has been with Bright from the very beginning. Through sheer determination, hard work and an ability to adapt and develop his style over time, he has made illustration his career, and a successful one at that.
As adults we often worry: about paying the bills, about work, family, politics, health — well just about everything really. But as adults we also know there’s a way to sort things out (hopefully and for the most part) We know we can talk about it, and there is help out there. We understand why we worry — mostly.
Jessica Courtney-Tickle is an incredible talent. Her soft and misty landscapes are dream-like and comforting. The perfect, peaceful way to send little ones off to sleep at night. Her debut picture book is due out in February and published by Egmont. The theme is environmentally friendly as is the material from which the book is made; Egmont use paper sourced from sustainable forests, which is the first message you see on opening the book.