1. Tell us about yourself.
I worked in animation for 20 years, working for 12 years in America for Dreamworks. I worked in the art department, visual development and layout department on films such as The Prince of Egypt, Shrek 1 & 2, Madagascar and Flushed Away. When I had my daughter I started to do children’s illustration, but mainly got jobs doing educational books. I wanted to write and illustrate my own stories and not do such computer looking illustration. When we returned to the UK I had heard about the MA at Cambridge and it’s great reputation. I needed to change my work and so applied for the course.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
Meeting up with my fellow students. A lot of people had to travel quite far to do the part-time course and it was fun to meet up at Kings Cross in the early hours and travel up to Cambridge. Also the return journey which was like an extension of the course where we would discuss our work.
3. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
How exciting it was to prepare for the final degree show. I was lucky enough to already have a publishing deal by then, having got a deal the year before, due to showing my book at Bologna. It was a lot of hard work but so worth it. I felt like I just had this one chance and I needed to make the absolute most of it.
4. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
The course helped me immensely. It made me make a massive change to my work and it made me more experimental. I also enjoyed meeting new people and them becoming good friends.
5. What did you love about your chosen course?
Everything. As I said above it made me more experimental. It changed how I worked. The course also helps you to build a relationship with publishers and gives you the opportunity to show your work at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, giving you a massive chance to get a publishing deal, which is what happened with me.
6. What would you tell someone thinking of studying at ARU?
As I only know Anglia from visiting it once a week and doing an art course, I would say definitely go there if that is the area you are thinking of.
7. In one word how would you describe Anglia?
8. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
I’m not sure I have just one. From loving the children’s books of Mary Blair when I was a child, to loving her when I worked in animation, to the tutors on the MA - all have had a big influence on me.
9. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Getting my first author/illustrator book deal. The book called Giraffe on a Bicycle, was published by Macmillan 3 years ago and only recently was read on CBeebies Bedtime Stories by Sir Chris Hoy. I’m also immensely proud that an illustration that I did while on the MA inspired an amazing school building in South-East London which went on to win a RIBA award. I’m so thankful to the architect Shoko Kijima at Hawkins Brown. It was basically down to them that I was able to win the Alumni Award last year for ‘Contribution to Culture’ which I am also very proud of.
10. What advice would you give your younger self?
Make the most of your time and opportunities
11. What drives you?
I’m very driven. I can’t imagine doing anything else other than drawing and creating stories and new characters and taking them on new adventures.
12. What’s next?
I am currently working on illustrating my second book with Faber & Faber, which is the second in the series written by Lou Kuenzler. The first book is ‘Not Yet Zebra’ and the second will be called ‘Calm Down Zebra’. I’m also on my second book with Andersen Press, which is also the second in the series. I’m the author/ illustrator on these and the first one is called ‘Duck and Penguin Are Not Friends’, which is out this summer. I’m not sure of the title of the second book with these characters but it does involve a sleepover. I also have a book that I have illustrated for Katherine Tegen Books in the US which is coming out in December, called ‘One Hug’ written by Katrina Moore.