Inspiration from Bright Artists
We asked all some of our artists to remember what books they read as children and what illustrations inspired them to become artists. Here are some of the stories we got back…
The books I remember vividly as a child were Danny the Champion of the World and The Hobbit, which my Dad read to me, but my favourite book from childhood was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham.
I used to spend hours looking at the illustrations in A Tolkien Bestiary and I think that influenced me to become an artist. I used to make up my own scenes and characters.
As a child I was never a great reader. However, once I started I quickly became adept at reading and writing. I did get to read most of Roald Dahl’s books (which I loved). But I was much more taken by comics.
This was the golden age of British comics, and it was a British comic called 2000AD that I loved most. I had always been good at drawing, and inevitably I began to copy illustrations by the best of the 2000AD artists, like Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Kevin O’Neil, who all went on to illustrate comics in the US, with great success.
I went on to write and draw my own comic stories and let my friends at school read them.
I had a lot of poetry books when I was learning to read. My favourite was, and still is, a poem called The Jumblies (they went to sea in a sieve, they did!). With illustrations from Selina Young; her work was so colourful and bright – the look of the Jumblies always made me laugh!
I spent a lot of my childhood reading the classic kids books from authors such as Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and C.S Lewis. I eagerly followed Redwall by Brian Jacques for its classic fantasy setting, full of all its talking animals and adventure. I also loved Goosebumps by R.L. Stine for its horror and weird twists on the scary stories and monsters we all know!
I’d say it was completely down to the illustrations I found within the books I’d read that inspired me to be an Illustrator myself; books have a way of making their readers become illustrators themselves, as we get lost in the text imagining the characters, scenes and situations. That is definitely how books inspired me to become an illustrator, and still do!
My earliest memories seem to have my mum reading Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg to me, which remains one of my favourite books. I love the rhythm of the text, and can still recite it off by heart! The illustrations are also fantastic; you can always find new things in every image, which is something I love putting in my own work.
As I grew up and learned to read myself, I found lots of other books. I read anything I could find by Roald Dahl, especially The BFG and The Twits. I was 10 when I read The Hobbit, a book that fuelled my imagination for strange creature characters in magic lands. As silly as they are, the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine provided some scares to my overactive mind, and were always a fun read.
A book which can’t really be read, but I would say is an amazing one for children to look at, is Where’s Wally and it’s sequels, by Martin Handford. In every inch of every page of those books you can find a story. My aim as a writer and illustrator is to someday influence children to read as much as these books did me.
Every night my dad would read me a bedtime story, which was pretty much always Winnie The Pooh. (The fact that he would do an amazing ‘piglet’ helped.) Obviously Pooh is simply genius and the EH Shepherd pictures were my first introduction to books with illustrations. Sherpherd’s influence is something that’s stuck fast all my life.
Due to my dad being an artist and cartoonist, I was always encouraged to draw, and during the bedtime stories my dad would pay particular attention to the pictures, explaining why they were so beautiful or funny or how if just a few lines were changed it wouldn’t work. From about the age of five or six I knew that I would become a cartoonist.
All of these stories about learning to read and how it can influence and change someone’s life highlights how important it is that children learn to read, and get excited about it. Bright’s illustrators are inspiring the next generation to become talented, hardworking and passionate artists.