Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 104: Drawing Tracy Beaker with Nick Sharrat and Jacqueline Wilson

Nick Sharrat's bio, in his own words:

I was born on August 9th, 1962 in Bexleyheath, Greater London. I grew up in Suffolk, Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester and I'm the oldest of four. My dad worked in breweries making beer and my mum was a teacher and then a social worker.

I've loved drawing for as long as I can remember and my parents always gave me lots of encouragement as well as plenty of art materials and masses of drawing paper!

When I was nine I drew a picture of a market square and took it into school to show my teacher. She thought it was good enough to be pinned up in the school hall and from then on I was determined that I was going to be a professional artist one day. I really enjoyed art at school and spent all my spare time at home drawing pictures, mostly from imagination.

After primary school I went to a comprehensive for a couple of years where I had an excellent time decorating all my work with illustrations and then I moved to a grammar school where I hardly got to do any art at all. In the end I was allowed to go and work alone in the art room store cupboard instead of doing games lessons. That way I managed to get my art O' and A' levels.

When I left school I went on an art foundation course at Manchester Polytechnic ( now called Manchester Metropolitan University ) where I spent a very happy year learning to draw people and places from real life.

I then got a place at St Martin's School of Art (now Central St Martins) in London to study graphic design for three years. There I learned about design and typography as well as developing my illustration skills. We students also had the opportunity of meeting and working with leading illustrators and designers who came into the school as visiting lecturers.

I left St Martin's in 1984, set about going to all the publishers with my folio of drawings to find work and was lucky enough to be given small commissions almost straight away. I have been working as a freelance illustrator ever since.

To begin with most of my work involved drawing for magazines. I illustrated for a wide range of publications that were about all sorts of things: homes, business, cars, parenting, computers, gardening, fitness, cooking, fashion, puzzles, teenagers ... I also designed packaging for cakes and confectionery which included creating Easter egg wrappers and even coming up with ideas for lollipops.

The first books I drew pictures for were educational textbooks and after a couple of years I was asked to illustrate my first picture book Noisy Poems which was published in 1987.

I gradually did more and more book illustration and began writing my own books too but it wasn't until the mid 1990s that I decided to stop the other kinds of illustration and concentrate solely on children's books.

I've now illustrated close to 250 books. They range from board books for babies to novels for young teenagers. I've worked with authors including Julia Donaldson, Jeremy Strong, Michael Rosen, Giles Andreae, Kaye Umansky, Kes Gray and most notably Dame Jacqueline Wilson and I've also written around 40 of my own books. I'm delighted to say that quite a few of the books have won prizes. I was the official illustrator for World Book Day in 2006 and I have a fellowship from Hereford College of Art. I'm also the proud recipient of a gold Blue Peter badge.

Jacqueline Wilson was born in Bath in 1945, but spent most of her childhood in Kingston-on-Thames. She always wanted to be a writer and wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was nine, filling in countless Woolworths’ exercise books as she grew up. As a teenager she started work for a magazine publishing company and then went on to work as a journalist on Jackie magazine (which she was told was named after her!) before turning to writing novels full-time.

One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Since then Jacqueline has been on countless awards shortlists and has gone on to win many awards. The Illustrated Mum won the  Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, the 1999 Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was also shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Children’s Book Award.

Double Act won the prestigious Smarties Medal and the Children’s Book Award as well as being highly commended for the Carnegie Medal. The Story of Tracy Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People’s Choice Award.

Jacqueline is one of the nation’s favourite authors, and her books are loved and cherished by young readers not only in the UK but all over the world. She has sold millions of books and in the UK alone the total now stands at over 35 million!

In 2002 Jacqueline was awarded the OBE for services to literacy in schools and from 2005 to 2007 she was the Children’s Laureate. In 2008 she became Dame Jacqueline Wilson.

Remember to visit with Nick's and Jacqueline's Web sites!  

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