Aside from producing illustration work the most enjoyable aspect of children's book illustration is to work with your audience - a day's visit to a school, be it a primary, middle, secondary or high school is always great fun. Steve began visiting schools in earnest some three years ago and has been a guest in several hundred schools & libraries to date.

When asked to work in schools Steve puts the emphasis on drawing 'live' rather than dwelling on showing children printed books, which he puts to the end of his session. So Instead, he draws for them, usually on a flip chart - large enough for everyone to see - and so the drawing can be kept as a keepsake in the class.

As the illustrator's job is to take written stories and turn them into vibrant pictures, Steve makes it clear to the pupils that he will only draw what they tell him to draw, kicking off with letting the pupils decide who or what the character in the picture should be followed by what they will be doing and perhaps wearing. Frantically scribbling down the notes dictated by the pupils after a couple of minutes we have a final 'brief' to work to: all of it conjured by the minds of the children. Of course the final jumble of notes makes a real challenge to draw but there in lies the fun for the audience as they witness their words being translated to a picture before their eyes.

rollover me for a suprise!

Bears on roller skates jumping over shark infested waters in ballet dresses, bow-tie wearing trolls in baths juggling plates of jelly while playing the flute - no two pictures are ever alike. And all of this takes about 15-20 minutes. It gives the pupils a feel for what it's like to commission an illustrator and see words being turned to pictures before their very eyes!

Then after all that's over, Steve (who needs a rest!) asks the children to draw something for him following a few simple instructions and armed only with a pencil & paper. What that something is depends upon the age group and whether or not the class teacher wants Steve to touch upon some current topic or theme the class has been studying. As the children begin to work Steve is on hand to offer help and let the children see his work portfolio close up and ask any questions they have.

A typical session lasts about one hour for the Key Stage 2 children or about 30-40 minutes for Reception and Key Stage 1 children but this does vary depending on the schools needs and class sizes - speaking of which, size is up to the school and available space, Steve has worked with single individuals and groups ranging from half a dozen up to 200! All the drawings Steve does stay in school as keepsakes for the children and staff alike. All he needs for the day is a flip chart (an occasional cup of black coffee!) and some drawing materials for the children to have a go.

The fee for a full day's visit to a school is £175 plus whatever travel expenses might be incurred. How the school wants to divide Steve's time amongst the children is up to their discretion, he's very flexible and if the school might have split break times for different age groups he would rather work through the break than sit idle! Likewise, if given enough notice Steve will also help out at any art clubs that might be run through lunch time or for an extra fee will work at after school art clubs/schools out sessions where they exist.

The only special equipment needs he has is for the provision of a flipchart or failing that at least 20-30 A1 sheets of plain paper that he can tack to a wall surface to achieve the same effect.

"Thank you so much for the sessions you did for us over the Easter holidays. The children obviously enjoyed themselves immensely - giving "brilliant" as a 100% response. We thought you might be interested in a couple of the comments on the evaluation sheets:

........... "Steve is amazing: he's very nice. And a cool drawer. And is very fast at drawing "

..........."Thank you Steve - you have learnt me a lot about drawing"

It was lovely for us to be able to host a workshop that was both fun and educational, so thank you once again."
Helen Cerroti; Principal Librarian: Children's Library Services Halifax

" A very welcome change having an illustrator rather than an author, the children were very enthusiastic. Steve was a great choice due to the content of his drawings, his manner and 'chat' with the children was superb."
Kirby Library Session - Liverpool

"Wonderful input - will lead us into some great story writing ideas back at school. Steve was great with the children. Thanks very much!"
Huyton Library Session - Liverpool

"Excellent illustrator - very talented, fantastic with the children and well organised!"
Kirby Library Session - Liverpool

Pre BA foundation course. Jacob Kramer College Leeds, 1988 - 1989

BA Hons degree course, Illustration/ Graphics. Newcastle Polytechnic, 1989 - 1992

MA Communication Design/Illustration Manchester Metropolitan University 1997 - 1998

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