I'm an Australian illustrator and author of children's books. Some of my titles include Too Many Elephants in this House, written by Ursula Dubosarsky, and The Swap by Jan Ormerod. I’ve also written and illustrated the Boris chapter book series, about a winsome and adventurous warthog. My books are now published in more than twenty-five countries.
My first picture book was The Terrible Plop, written by Ursula Dubosarsky. It was published in 2009, when I was nearly 40 years old. So I did a lot of other things before I got around to making children's books. I was a receptionist, a fruit picker, and a tutor in the English Department of Adelaide University. For many years I worked in a terrific record store called Big Star (a shop named after a band named after a shop), and for even more years I worked as an editorial illustrator for newspapers and magazines like The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin, Reader's Digest and Rolling Stone.
Somewhere along the way I also started working for The School Magazine, an Australian children’s literary magazine (which had its 100th birthday this year). Ursula saw some of my work in that magazine and recommended me as a possible illustrator for her new rhyming story. So one day in 2007 I had a call from Ursula’s publisher at Penguin, Jane Godwin, asking if I’d like to have a go at illustrating The Terrible Plop. I got the job, and ever since then nearly all of my work has been in children’s books. I feel very fortunate that Ursula and Jane took a chance on me. It means I’ve got to work with both of them on many more books (Jane is also a brilliant children’s book author), as well as many other authors, publishers, editors and designers. So thank you Ursula and Jane . . . and The School Magazine!
I like to draw with soft, dark pencils, or a brush dipped in a puddle of shiny black ink. I then like to play around with these drawings on my computer (or lately, my iPad). Drawing for me is a way of thinking and learning. Each time I do a drawing I feel like I’ve learnt something. Although sometimes it takes me a while to figure out exactly what I've learnt.
When I’m not making books I like to read them, especially poetry books. I don’t mean to be prescriptive, but I think more people should read poetry. Go on, give it a try! Here are a few to get you started: "A Chicken’s Head" by Sarah Day and "It Happens Like This" by James Tate. I'm also very fond of food, music, aimless country drives, and of course, my family. Happily for me, I live with my family in a small country town on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, in a house filled with delicious food and constant music (my wife is a piano teacher), and surrounded by plenty of winding old roads and byways.