Inspiration from Nick Sharratt

At the children’s book museum we are currently running an exhibition dedicated to the work of Jacqueline Wilson. Of course her stories and characters are brought to life by illustrator Nick Sharratt. He has a very distinctive, cartoon style that, until now, I had paid little attention to. For the last couple of months I have had the privilege to live with his original art works and sketches while at work and I have been inspired. Sharratt’s work is deceptively simple. Oodles of ideas and sketches have gone before the finished piece, but it’s the detail that he leaves out that creates the character. For Sharratt less is definitely more.

Illustration by Nick Sharratt

The work that really caught my eye was for Wilson’s novel “My Sister Jodie”. He designed twelve different versions of the book cover alone. But it is the line drawings that I love. Although the figures remain simple there are lots of patterns and detail in the background which sets it apart from much of his other illustrations. It is wonderful to be able to press your face almost up to the glass and study the pictures so closely.

It’s this work that has been the starting point for my “Five Minute Faces” as I struggle to keep line to a minimum and learn when to stop adding detail.

There are several different originals from this book in the exhibition as well as notebooks kept by Jacqueline Wilson for My Sister Jodie. We also have a studio area inspired by Sharratt’s own workplace complete with light boxes that looks remarkably like the real thing. But my absolute  favourite illustration in the gallery is a personal piece he did for Jacqueline Wilson to celebrate the ten millionth copy sold of her books. It is a tiny pen and ink drawing of Wilson’s hands complete with rings on each finger marking the figure out in roman numerals. Exquisite.

If you are in Newcastle before the end of September 2012 stop by and take a look.

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