Beacon Magazine caught up with iconic illustrator, Nick Sharratt, who is best known for his work with Jacqueline Wilson and Julia Donaldson, among many others.
When did you first discover your talent for drawing?
I’ve loved drawing since I was a toddler, but when I was nine I took a picture that I’d drawn at home into school to show my teacher and it was pinned up in the school hall for a whole term. That’s when I decided I was going to be an artist for my job.
Tell us about the studies you undertook to turn your talent into a career:
I did as much art as possible at school (which was a bit of a challenge at the grammar school I went to – it wasn’t a subject option for my form, so I did it instead of Games). I got my art O’ and A’ Levels, and did a foundation course at what was then Manchester Polytechnic and is now Manchester Metropolitan University. I then went to St Martin’s School of Art (now Central St Martins) in London and studied for a degree in Graphic Design. On graduating I went round all the publishers of books and magazines with my folio, in search of work.
What have been the biggest highlights of your career so far?
I’m lucky enough to have won quite a few awards over the years but I am super-proud of my gold Blue Peter badge, given to me for my contribution to the world of children’s books.
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
The one place I hardly ever get inspiration is sitting at my desk. I pick up ideas from getting out and doing book events, going to the cinema, theatre or exhibitions, from talking with children, going on walks in the country, long train journeys…
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got half a dozen light-hearted picture books in various stages of development at the moment. I’m having a great time!
Tell us about a typical week in your life:
If I’m at home I’ll get into my studio around 8am and apart from coffee breaks and lunch, I’m in there until 7pm. Once I’ve got through that day’s emails I try to concentrate on working out ideas in the morning, when my head tends to be clearer, and undertaking actual artwork in the afternoons. The day goes in a flash. Then every couple of weeks or so I’ll get out for meetings or to do book events around the country, which is something I really enjoy.
Why is World Book Day so important?
World Book Day is a fantastic celebration of books and reading. Reading from an early age brings a massive number of advantages and benefits in later life, and WBD brilliantly encourages engagement with books, by demonstrating what enormous fun they can be too.
You’re coming over to the Island next week for the IW Story Festival. Have you ever been before?
I’m very familiar with the Isle of Wight. When I was a boy I had relatives who lived practically next door next to Carisbrooke Castle, and it was the most exciting thing ever to come over on the ferry to visit, and to be taken up to see the donkey working the castle water wheel.