I grew up in a small Scottish mining village but emigrated to Canada aged eight. I was lucky enough to spend the next 13 years in Vancouver returning to Britain aged 22. I started my career in London working in various small finished art studios but quickly went freelance and established my work fairly easily. Then after marrying Christine, a graphic designer and former client, there followed a few years in Hertfordshire raising my family, eventually moving to the Shropshire hills where I’ve lived for a good many years now, taking an active interest in downhill mountain bike racing and restoring and converting ancient farm buildings. But my great passion is old sports cars and summertime drives in gorgeous mid Wales roads with the top down is my idea of heaven.
I have been a freelance illustrator and sometime author for almost fifty years. In that time I’ve worked for most major publishers. Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Puffin, Harper Collins, Egmont, Scholastic, Usborne, MacMillans and many, many others. I have written and illustrated 23 children’s books including the 18 ‘Chain Gang’ series of mountain biking mini graphic novels in collaboration with my editor/graphic designer wife, Christine. They are still in print with Capstone under the ‘Ridge Riders’ series title.
Career highlight so far – doing a graphic novel adaptation of ‘the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ for Harper Collins and getting to collaborate with C.S. Lewis’ stepson on the projects.
Altho it’s only a guess I’ve probably illustrated about 400 children’s books and am now involved in illustrating mainly third world text books for MacMillan’s and Oxford University Press.
In the past I have illustrated many children’s classics including ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘The Secret Garden’ for Puffin, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘A Little Princess’ for Parragon, a Hans Anderson and Brothers Grimm collection for Kingfisher and Hamlyns and ‘The Nutcracker’ for Templar. In addition I have done many Enid Blyton jackets. Also I was privileged to illustrate the book jackets for several P.G. Wodehouise novels.
My historical work includes ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Alexander the Great’ for Usborne and ‘Perseverance’ (Edison), ‘Forgiveness’ (Ghandi)’, ‘Bravery’ (Sitting Bull)’Determination’, Jackie Robinson and ‘Dreams’ (Martin Luther King Junior) for Child’s World (U.S.).
In the past I have also done many greeting cards (mostly of vintage cars) for Gallery 5 and Inkdrop.
As well as illustrating I am currently producing graphic biographies on four Scottish Racing drivers and on five Welsh aviation heroes. I am also putting together a series of watercolours based on Vintage Sports Car Club events with a view to mounting a major exhibition next winter.
To anyone not familiar with my work it may seem strange that one artist can have so many styles. I suppose this has evolved because I find it hard to turn down work and it’s always seemed obvious to me that different subjects call for different treatments . Besides, as an artist you can’t help but evolve
Retirement has always ben a rather complex issue for me. When I was younger I thought it would never happen, and now I am a little older I find I think I should retire but that I get very restless if there’s nothing on the drawing board. Sure I’ve got plenty of other things to get on with, cutting up firewood from the occasional fallen tree, tuning the MG or fixing one of my 5 bikes but I realize too late that I’m addicted to illustration and there’s probably no hope for me. I’m hoping to do a bit more fine art in years to come, maybe, maybe not but it’s just not the same without the thing my soul seems to need – a good tight deadline!