Nick Sharratt is the artist behind hundreds of beloved children’s book characters created by authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Jeremy Strong, as well as timeless fairy-tale characters and characters of his own creation – his personal favourites being Timothy Pope and his dad in ‘Shark in the Park’. As an advocate of creative expression, Nick has always had a passion for drawing.
“I’ve loved making pictures for as long as I can remember. It always felt incredibly natural and enjoyable for me. I was the artist of the class at school, and I was very happy with that role!”
Whether it was for school or a competition he’d found on a box of cereal, Nick took drawing seriously and encourages other children to do the same.
“Young children are brilliant at picture making, but they can quickly become self – conscious about it. I think everyone has the potential to draw. It’s a brilliant activity to do; it involves all kinds of thought processes, and as with everything, you have to work at it if you want to improve. I used to be a perfectionist and start a drawing, do a few lines, then turn the page and start again. I’d go through a whole pad that way! But I taught myself to complete my pictures and even if the drawing was not quite what I’d expected, it gave me a sense of achievement.”
Starting out as a magazine illustrator, Nick has now illustrated over a hundred books and written more than fifty of his own. But, how does he do it?
“By the time I’ve read the manuscript, I’ve got a clear idea of what the character will look like as it seeps into the story. When I’m working with Jacqueline (Wilson), I just try and create a visual interpretation from Jacky’s description. There will always be mentions of the character’s size, hair, dressing style etc within the story. I spend a lot of time thinking about hairstyles for my characters, as hair can really reflect the character’s nature.”
Having achieved his childhood aspiration of becoming a professional artist, Nick encourages children to find joy in art too.
“It’s so important to find time for drawing and story-telling at a young age, as more than anything else it’s fun! It’s a fabulous way to stretch your imagination as a child.
“When I used to go into schools it was brilliant to see a classroom with art on the walls. I think it’s good for children to be shown how to draw things by their parents or teachers or via YouTube. There are lots of videos demonstrating how to draw a character sharing top tips such as starting with the shape of the face. Group drawing activities are also fantastic, where everyone contributes to a picture so it’s a team effort.”
Illustrations in books are a great way to grip the reader and create a memorable story.
“When I think of the books I had as a child, the words are a bit hazy but the pictures come back sharply in my memory. Children interact with visual images in a really direct and intense way and it’s amazing to think that my illustrations might be enjoyed like that.”
Nick’s top tip for aspiring artists is simple, keep drawing!
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