ACHUKA is thrilled to have David Litchfield as the 14th guest on Meet An Illustrator, an informal weekend feature introduced this year.. Do visit the backpages to read the responses from previous guests.
The Bear And The Piano, David’s debut picture book, was published just 5 years ago, but he is already established as one of the UK’s leading illustrators and picture book creators. That debut title won Waterstones Illustrated Book Prize in 2016. Much more recently he has come to attention as the cover illustrator for David Almond’s Bone Music:
A particular favourite of ACHUKA’s is Lights On Cotton Rock:
His 2021 publishing year kicked off with illustrations for A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth
and the paperback edition of Rainbow Before Rainbows by Smriti Halls is published this coming week:
Next month (May 2021) we can look forward to Pip And Egg written by Alex Latimer:
and, as we hear below, there is lot lots more to come.
As a child, what were the first illustrations you remember being pleased with?
I think that it was a drawing of a panda. It was in primary school and we all had to draw one. We then put them all on the wall and I remember feeling a bit arrogant and quietly smug that my panda was definitely one of the best ones on that wall.
Who/what inspired you when you were young?
Again at primary school our teacher sat us all down and read us Where The Wild Things Are. I remember being absolutely blown away by Maurice Sendak‘s drawings and characters and totally felt transported away from the reading mat in that classroom to that dreamy monster island. Mr Sendak and Albert Uderzo were absolutely the two biggest influences on making me want to draw every day.
Who inspires you today?
Still mainly Sendak and Uderzo. But I love finding out about new illustrators. There are an infinite amount of styles and techniques and approaches to drawing and I love being surprised by how different people create a spread or tell their stories. My current 2 favourites are Sydney Smith and Frances Ives. They both have such a free and natural style. They are amazing.
Did you study art/illustration?
I actually studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Art. Graphic Design felt like the most sensible career choice in the art world. I loved the course and I met some great people there. But I was really shocked at how little drawing was involved. I think more than anything that course showed me how much I really loved to draw and that I just wasn’t a Graphic Designer.
What is your favourite artist tool/product?
It sounds obvious but a pencil and a sketchbook. My absolute favourite part of a project is when it’s just me, a pencil and a sketchbook and I am just letting the idea develop by scribbling and experimenting and making a mess.
Where do you buy your art supplies?
I have two favourite shops here in Bedford. One is called the Arc which sells all kinds of incredible arts supplies and exotic paints and brushes etc. I also like Coleman’s which is obviously more of a standard stationary shop. But I don’t know, I like their pens. I spend far too much money on pens.
What software/apps do you use?
I only really use Photoshop. I tried to get my head around Illustrator but I’m just not that technically minded to be honest. I have had a play with Pro Create but my kids keep stealing my iPad so I have not had enough time to learn it yet.
What was your first commission?
My first commission happened when I was 13 years old and I drew a poster for a local comic shop. They paid me in comics. My first proper paid commission was with The Beano comic. I think that it was in 2013 or so when the editor Michael Stirling found my drawings online. For a few weeks I drew the illustrations that accompanied a poetry section in the comic. It was amazing to be drawing for a comic I had been in love with for most of my life. I will forever be grateful to that team for giving me that opportunity.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just finishing drawing a pretty epic book written by Gregory Maguire. After that I’m so happy to be working on another ‘Earth’ book with Stacy McAnulty. I love drawing these books, and I learn so much about our planet too. After that I’m starting a beautiful book with the writer Nell Cross Beckerman which is going to be a total stunner. Towards the end of the year I’m creating artwork for my next author/illustrator book too.
Twitter or Instagram? Instagram I think. I love Twitter but Instagram just feels a lot friendlier. Also as an illustrator it is a great, visual medium to share work on. I have also found so many new great artists from this site.
Coffee or tea? I love coffee. But I have had to cut back a lot. I was getting the jitters because I drank it so much. Now I just have two cups a day. And only in the mornings.
Cat or dog? Oh my goodness Dog. Dog every time. I always had dogs growing up. They were my best friends. We got a dog last summer. I was adamant that my two boys should have a dog growing up. My wife wasn’t that convinced I don’t think but now that we have one she loves her as much as we do.
Grape or grain? Hmmm, both good, but I would have to say grape.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset. I don’t know if it’s a getting older thing but I love sitting in my garden as the sun starts to go down. It’s like a magic time of the day where everything is winding down and becoming peaceful.
What do you listen to when you are working? Mainly loud rock music. But I’ve also started to listen to a fair few podcasts. My favourite ones at the moment are ‘Pod Save America‘- helps me get my head around American politics, which I can sometimes find quite baffling from time to time- and The Force Center – which is a massively geeky Star Wars podcast which has none of the snark and negativity of other fandom type discussions. I recommend it if you are a Star Wars nerd like me.
This is a regular weekend feature, publishing every Saturday.