Discover seven of the most talented artists to illustrate our childhoods
Kids are a demanding bunch and illustrating for them isn’t as simple as you might think. There are masters of the craft whose hands have created visual worlds that have captivated and calmed young minds for decades.
Here is a look at seven of the most celebrated children’s illustrators and their wonderful artwork.
The scrawling illustrations of Quentin Blake are inseparable from Roald Dahl and the stories he wrote, ostensibly, for children. In 2008, David Walliams, of Little Britain fame, managed to persuade Blake to use his inimitable style to illustrate his book The Boy in the Dress, the story about a young boy who likes to crossdress and the reactions this provokes in his friends and family.
A woman born into Britain’s upper classes, Beatrix Potter was educated by a governess and grew up isolated from other children. Instead, she turned to nature and animals for company, and her paintings would become renowned worldwide as the charming illustrations of her stories like The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
You may have thought he was a fictional character, but Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Ted, but most commonly known as Dr. Seuss, is quite real indeed. He published over 60 books during a career that spanned World War Two. Those tales and Seuss’ idiosyncratic turn of phrase have inspired countless interpretations, 11 TV specials, four TV series, five feature films, and a Broadway musical known as a Seussical.
Where The Wild Things Are made Maurice Sendak a star of children's illustration. His work was at first considered too grotesque and offensive for children, but many fell in love with them. One young boy’s reaction to Maurice’s work was totally unexpected and some of the best praise the storyteller ever received:
“A little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children's letters – sometimes very hastily – but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, 'Dear Jim: I loved your card.' Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said: 'Jim loved your card so much he ate it.' That to me was one of the highest compliments I've ever received. He didn't care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
The illustrator of a Chimpanzees for Tea was originally a graphic designer, and those who came to children’s illustration via the same path remain some of her favorite artists. Empson still reads her favorite picture books each night, and her lively connection to her craft is very much apparent in her work.
Creative minds are typically known to be plagued with self-doubt and tortured souls but this can’t be said of our final illustrator, Richard Scarry. The titles of Scarry’s books almost always begin with two words: The Best. Scarry’s self-assurance is vindicated by a portfolio of classic tales that fill the world’s children’s libraries.
E. H. Shepard
“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” Winnie the Pooh’s words, written, of course, by A. A. Milne could well be applied to the work of the artist who drew him first. His delicate sketches live long in the minds and hearts of the many generations who have been enjoying them for almost a century.