A lead-driven, pencil-pushing, 25-frames-per-second, Led Zeppelin fan, Jim Field is also a hugely talented illustrator and animation director and we’re delighted that he is the World Book Day 2018 illustrator!
Jim was born and brought up in Farnborough. He drew from a very early age, with a burning ambition to make cartoons. He studied animation at Hull School of Art and Design, graduated in 2002, and made his way into the animation industry, working as a director for Partizan in London. Meanwhile, he was also penning his way as a freelance illustrator, working for editorial publications.
Jim’s first picture book, Cats Ahoy!, written by Peter Bently, won the Booktrust Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2011 and was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. The bestselling Oi Frog! books, written by Kes Gray, have been shortlisted for numerous prizes, as has The Lion Inside with Rachel Bright. His vibrant, energetic style and witty detail delight children and adults alike.
We’re so excited that you are the World Book Day illustrator for 2018. How did you feel when you were asked?
My reaction when my agent Jodie told me the fantastic news was something like this, “Whaaaat? Reeeeeally? Meeeee?” I was really very surprised and so delighted to be asked. SO thank you so much for choosing me, I feel incredibly privileged to be the illustrator for World Book Day 2018, roll on March I say!
We love the new look for 2018 particularly the books with legs! Did you have a clear idea in your mind of what you wanted everything to look like or was it a gradual process?
I’m so glad you like them! I worked with the lovely Art Director Nikki Dupin at NicandLou and we were bouncing ideas back and forth on the phone and by email, initially playing with the idea of sharing stories from morning to bed time. I came up with quite a few ‘concepts’ but nothing really seemed to shine. It was tricky for me to design something that could appeal to very young children to teenagers at the same time. The book characters were actually a side doodle in my sketchbook and I was pondering whether to share them at all as I thought it was too character based, it was a sketch of four books holding hands spelling the word JOIN. Nikki really liked this and had the brilliant idea of the big parade of books. I then had lots of fun coming up with more book characters young and old.
What was your favourite book growing up? Do you have one in your mind that you wish you’d illustrated?
Like lots of children (and adults) I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl’s books, paired with the humour and energy of Quentin Blake’s fabulous illustrations they will always be fond memories growing up. It’s very hard to pick a favourite but probably James and the Giant Peach, it has the amazing mix of tragedy, humour, magic, adventure and of course talking giant insects. This would have been a dream book to illustrate.
We know there are some fantastically creative young people out there. What advice would you give to any budding young illustrators?
Well my advice is echoed by many, draw, draw, draw and draw. Don’t stick to one style at first, you need time to find yourself I think. Don’t categorise yourself to be a children’s illustration to early on, try and work in many mediums and develop yourself and your network.
Which authors and illustrators have inspired you over the years?
Definitely Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake as mentioned, also Tomi Ungerer, Enid Blyton, Charley Harper, David McKee, more recently illustrators David Roberts, Marc Boutavant, and Frederick Pillot.
What one picture book do you think all children should own?
Oi Frog! just joking. I think a copy of Where the Wild Things Are should be owned by every child, it’s perfect captivating escapism for children.
What does a typical day look like for you? A lot of your work is very detailed so do you find yourself getting lost in it?
My day starts when our 15 month old daughter wakes up, once she’s fed and dressed I’ll feed and dress myself – then I’ll head into my studio which is a 10 min walk near Bonne Nouvelle Metro (we live in Paris). I’ll try and reply to emails and do the business bits n pieces I need to, so I can then crack on with the current projects. through the day I’ll do a mix of drawing by hand on paper and colouring/artworking on the computer, it can be pretty intensive on some spreads, a detailed spread can take me 5 days of art working and I do find myself totally getting lost in it. I’ll then head home at 6.30pm to see my daughter and wife and enjoy some family time.
What’s your favourite part of your job? Is there anything about it that you’re not so keen on?
I think I have the best job in the world, to think I can draw for a living and bring stories to life is a dream come true for me. I like the whole creative/making aspect of it. I just wish I had more time and didn’t have to do any of the ‘business’ side of things, they chomp up a lot of time.
Are you able to tell us what you’re working on next or is it top secret?
Oh let’s see… I can say I’ve just finished the World Book Day book with Kes Gray, Oi Goat! I’m now starting my fourth collaboration with the wonderful Rachel Bright and Orchard Books, which is a story about a Wolf in the arctic. I’m also starting work on a Christmas Book with an incredible author for Egmont, I can say no more or the book police will get me.
And finally, what do you think is the most exciting thing about World Book Day?
I think the fact that so many children, parents, teachers, are enjoying sharing stories together is totally magical.