I grew up in a small quiet town called Lutterworth in Leicestershire, England. My brother and I were always drawing but what really inspired me were family outings to historic buildings such as medieval castles and cathedrals. I remember the physical atmosphere of the past as being a very vivid experience. It captured my imagination, and I spent hours afterward drawing battle scenes with lots of knights in armor and siege catapults.
At school I knew I wanted to be a commercial artist of some sort, and I went to study illustration at Brighton College of Art. I loved making big freehand perspective drawings of buildings and enjoyed working out how they were made. Then at the end of my second year I discovered historical reconstruction and the work of Alan Sorrell and David Macaulay. This was my big turning point and I began making my first cutaway and cross-section drawings.
I have worked as a freelance illustrator since 1985 creating a wide variety of information books for both adults and children. I always begin a project by doing lots of research and background reading. I make lists of all the important details and content that I want to pack into the drawing and if it’s possible to visit the subject that’s even better. Then I’m ready to begin. First I do small sketches to work out the composition. Then I make a full-size working drawing with labels so that all of the detail can be checked over by historical experts to make sure everything is correct. The final stage is to make any amendments or additions to the drawings and then to color them using a mixture of watercolor and colored pencils. I prefer to freehand on paper, I only use a computer for research and communication.
Into the Unknown is my first book for Candlewick. When I began thinking about how I would like to illustrate these fourteen famous journeys of exploration, my ambition was to create a more atmospheric style of cross-section drawing. I wanted to use this to show the explorers in action surrounded by danger, and at the same time take the reader behind the scenes to see in detail how technology allowed explorers to succeed. My aim with this book was to show how amazingly exciting these stories of exploration are. I wanted my illustrations to invite close and repeated viewing so readers can discover more about being an explorer and see how these great feats of adventure were achieved.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. I have grown bonsai trees since I was fifteen. I now have a collection of English natives such as Oak, Beech, and Field Maple.
2. I live in a small village on the Somerset Levels, which is a beautiful landscape of wetlands with many nature reserves. And I enjoy bird-watching.
3. I have a very vicious pet cat called Blossom who likes to bite everybody, including me.