Red Light Green Light 20th Anniversary

Its now twenty years ago since my first published children’s book came out.

1992 was a significant year, my son Joseph was born in the October of that year, however July ’92 saw my first authored book see the light of day. The idea for Red Light Green Light arose  from a meeting with the publishing director of ABC books, Sue Tarsky. She had been introduced to my work through the pages of Vogue. It was whilst I had been regularly working for John Hind and his assistant James at Vogue on Food, Beauty, Horoscope pages that my work had started to take on an aesthetic that suggested ‘children’s books’. At the same time Sara Fanelli was working with Sue and her team on her first book, ‘The Button Book’ and this had opened up new approaches to picture books. Of course like many a first timer starting to write for children, I got it completely wrong. There was no need for my generous descriptive passages, this was going to be a concept book so ideas and visuals were the most important element and not so much the lengthy word count. Words were to play an important role but imagery was to drive the book forward. The book was eventually to become a 32 pager made up of 12 spreads of vibrantly coloured reduction lino cuts. What had started with pencil crayon sketches soon started to develop into my familiar way of working. I put down the pencils in favour of sharp cutting tools and without fully realising just what I was taking on I began gouging away. Despite the risks of this method everything went smoothly and the whole exercise was tremendous fun…

The book went onto to win a number of industry awards and the artwork became part of the European Illustration Collection. If I was to  revisit the whole project what would I tackle differently now? Well I’m not sure I’d brave a whole book of linocuts, particularly given that this particular approach does not allow for mistakes but the book does stand up well today and was featured recently in and Martin Salisbury and Morag Style’s new book Children’s Picturebooks, published by Lawrence King.

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