Hello, it’s Lydia here! You are probably visiting here because you have read one of my books. I hope you enjoyed it! I am best known for illustrating Julia Donaldson’s stories. (No, I didn’t do The Gruffalo!)
I’ve worked with lots of different authors over the years, and I also write my own stories to illustrate. That’s how I started – by writing my own books.
I went to art college for five years to study illustration. An art director from Puffin came to my final show at university, and saw some of the work I had done for some Roger McGough poems. She asked if I would like to illustrate an actual Roger McGough book for Puffin. That’s how I got my first book.
After that, I got lots of work for newspapers and magazines. I had a regular spot in Tatler and often featured in The Evening Standard and The Times. I also did a lot of work for teenage magazines like Just Seventeen and Sugar.
But I wanted to illustrate more children’s books. I made appointments to see lots of art directors at different publishers in London. They all seemed to like my work, but couldn’t find a text that would suit me.
I thought I would write a story myself, as an example of how I would tackle a picture book. Over the following two years, I brought my book to show various editors, and they all rejected it! In the end, I stopped showing it.
I had an appointment with Reed Books. They were creating some lovely books at the time with people like Bruce Ingham and Sara Fanelli. I showed them my portfolio, and they asked if I had thought of writing my own story. I said I had, but that it had been rejected over and over again. They said to send it in anyway…
I did just that, and they published it the following year. It won the Bronze Smarties Award in 1999, and from then on, I got lots of offers to illustrate picture books!
In 2003, I was commissioned to illustrated a young fiction book called, Princess Mirror-Belle by Julia Donaldson, shortly followed by a picture book called, Sharing A Shell. We have continued to work together ever since. Our most successful book is What the Ladybird Heard series, which has sold over four million copies, and has been translated into many different languages.
I work in a studio in my back garden, and have a big dog who keeps me company. I still like to write my own stories, but I still often feel like not showing them to anyone.
If you’d like to know more, I have answered some frequently asked questions in the FAQ section.