A Children’s Book Illustrator’s Life
Amanda has been illustrating children’s books internationally since the mid-1980s, with books published in 26 countries. After a period in London and abroad, she returned to live in Cambridge, England, where she had trained.
She works from her garden studio “The Shadowhouse”, a step away from the house which she shares with her musician partner.
You can find more on a children’s book illustrator’s life on Amanda’s Interviews & Blogs page.
An illustrator’s life
I love being a children’s book illustrator. It’s my vocation.
When I develop illustrations for a new children’s picture book, I relish the long process of visual storytelling ahead.
The process evolves from reaching into my glimpsed mind’s-eye responses to a text, through to pictorial realisation, pencil line and colour.
This process has distinct stages and intensities – as shown on my Techniques page – sometimes with the radio on, sometimes in silence. It’s a process I have to do alone in my studio to allow creative space for my ideas to emerge.
I like the sense of completion that comes with publication, followed by new and varied illustrative challenges.
Our timeless fairytale cottage
I grew up in this ancient thatched wattle-and-daub house in rural Cambridgeshire, England. Our wonderful home, set in green fields, found its way into my illustrations.
I was very lucky to be born into a creative household, surrounded by art, writing and music. My Dad painted and designed for the theatre and taught at art school, while Mum was a published writer, worked as a medical secretary and loved music. I was the youngest of four and we were all encouraged artistically.
I was constantly making things – some more successful than others! – but I had images in my head that I was determined to create.
My professional journey
I specialised in illustration at the Cambridge School of Art where, in 1978, I was delighted to be commissioned by Dinosaur Publications to illustrate a set of playing cards for the National Trust.
After college, I moved to London to begin my career as a children’s book illustrator in earnest. Magical connections happened during that period. There was a certain amount of serendipity and a lot of time spent drawing, experimenting and working.
Throughout, though, it has been engaging creatively with stories that has sparked my imagination and led me along.
Many books later, the more I do, the simpler and clearer it seems to become – and the more I love it.