No Time for a Sleep with the Klaus Flugge Prize ...
As a counter to COVID enjoy the first in a series of five quick Q&A Blogs with the year’s best new picture book illustrators each of whom are working to bring children love, warmth and reassurance thought their work. We have old friends, new friends, peace and security in each of the five books shortlisted for the 2021 Klaus Flugge Prize and we begin with John Broadley , illustrator of Mick Jackson's While You're Sleeping.
Can you tell us where you were when you were asked to illustrate While You’re Sleeping, and what your reaction was?
I would be at home wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I actually was contacted by Pavilion a few days after leaving a full-time night shift job at which I’d worked at for over twenty years. I’d finally taken the leap and was trying to make a go of illustrating as a career rather than something I did in my spare time, so the thought of illustrating a book precisely about what I’d been doing for the past two decades felt like a reward for all the nights of frustration doing a job I didn’t really enjoy.
Whereabouts do you work when illustrating, can you paint us a picture of your studio set up?
I work at home - our living area is virtually open plan and I have an alcove surrounded by books and records where a desktop computer sits and I pull out a fold-up dining table when I need to draw. I try to pack things away at the end of the day.
When you first read the text, did you know immediately how you wanted the illustrations to look, or did it take a while to figure it all out?
When I first read the text I was reminded of the documentary Night Mail made by John Grierson for the GPO in the 1930s. It is a tale of the travelling post office trains that used to cross the UK overnight, sorting and delivering the mail as they went. It has a very striking visual style and I saw myself using sharp perspective and dramatic views of the various occupations that were being served up by Mick to illustrate.
The illustrations you have created for the book are really unique, striking and they fit the world at night so well, can you tell us about your illustration process?
I start with a very quick sketch which is the basic composition of the drawing which I scan into photoshop, enlarge so it’s probably about four times the actual size of the printed book, and then start drawing a more worked up version using a light box.
It probably takes a couple of attempts to get all the details sorted before I can work on the final drawing. I work with rulers and stencils for the parts that have straight lines, using a sharpie pen, and then the looser lines are done with a dip pen and a bottle of ink. The textures are made using patterns which I create from samples of texture I have found, and I cut holes into the paper and place the textures behind the paper to create patterns, such as the road surface or fabric, or brickwork etc. There is no colour in the original drawings, that is all added later, digitally.
Finally , can you tell us about any new projects you’re working on, and what we can keep an eye out for in the future?
I have completed work on a follow-up book to WYWS called ‘We’re Going Places’ which is also written by Mick Jackson and has a similar illustrative style. The theme of this one is the journeys that people make in their lives, from first steps to some much more dramatic adventures, such as travelling in hot air balloons, or even going over Niagara Falls in a barrel!
That book is published in September by Pavilion Children's Books.
Away from children’s publishing I’ve recently completed a project to illustrate all of the menus for a new restaurant called ‘The Alice’ which is opening in summer inside The Randolph Hotel in Oxford. The restaurant is named after the book written by one of the city’s most famous alumni, Lewis Carroll and the illustrations reference that as well as the illustrator Osbert Lancaster, who used to reside in the hotel and pay for his board with paintings he did for the establishment.
With thanks to publicist Andrea Reece for facilitating this Blog series for us and Armadillo illustrator in residence Sarah Lovell for undertaking the interviews (and doing all the associated reading!)
The Klaus Flugge Prize honours publisher Klaus Flugge, a supremely influential figure in picture books, and the founder of publishing house Andersen Press.
It was founded in 2016 and recognises a published picture book by a debut illustrator; the winning illustrator receives a cheque for £5,000. Past winners are Nicholas John Frith (Hector and Hummingbird), Francesa Sanna (The Journey), Kate Milner (My Name is Not Refugee), Jessica Love (Julian is a Mermaid) and Eva Eland (When Sadness Comes to Call).
The Klaus Flugge Prize is funded by Klaus Flugge and run independently of Andersen Press. It is administered by Julia Eccleshare, children’s director of the Hay Festival and head of Public Lending Right policy and advocacy and Andrea Reece, reviews editor at Lovereading4kids, managing editor of Books for Keeps, and children’s director of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival.
About Klaus Flugge
Klaus Flugge was born in Hamburg in 1934, apprenticed to a bookshop and sent to Book Trade School in Leipzig. He emigrated to America at the age of 23 as an East German refugee who spoke only German and Russian. After a variety of jobs, and two years as an American GI, he was offered a job working as a Personal Assistant to Lew Schwartz, owner of Abelard-Schuman publishing in New York. After only a year and a half Schwartz suggested he go to Europe to build up the very small list they had there and came to London in 1961. He launched Andersen Press – named after Hans Christian Andersen - in the autumn of 1976.
The roll call of artists Klaus Flugge has worked with at Andersen Press reads like a textbook on illustration: David McKee, Tony Ross, Satoshi Kitamura, Michael Foreman, Susan Varley, Emma Chichester Clark, Sir Quentin Blake, Chris Riddell, Ruth Brown and David Lucas to name but a very few.
In 1999, he became the first publisher to receive the Eleanor Farjeon Award for outstanding contribution to children’s books and in 2010 he became the first and so far only publisher to be awarded Honorary Membership of the Youth Libraries Group. In 2013 Klaus was made an honorary citizen of the City of Bologna in recognition of his commitment to children's books abroad.
About Andersen Press
Andersen Press is one of the leading independent children’s publishers, publishing some of the biggest names in the world of children's books including the much-loved picture book characters the Little Princess and Elmer the patchwork elephant. Andersen Press is the home of many award-winning authors and illustrators including Melvin Burgess, Rebecca Stead, Satoshi Kitamura, Tony Ross, David McKee, Chris Judge and Jeanne Willis. Andersen Press was founded in 1976 by Klaus Flugge.