Katie Cleminson’s 8 books on route to becoming an illustrator

posted in: Katie Cleminson | 3

When I recently fell in love with Katie Cleminson’s newest book, Otto the Book Bear, I had fun re-reading an interview I did with her last year. It was my first ever interview with an author/illustrator and I was so nervous!

Since then I’ve got to know Katie a little better and so I recently asked her if she would share with us 8 books that reflect pivotal moments in her life so far, with particular reference to her journey towards becoming a published author/illustrator. Here’s what she had to say…

The amount of time between first deciding I’d love to make my own picture books for a living, and doing it for real, was only about three and a half years. That was the length of my course at Art School, and so this list is from that time. Before that, my mind wasn’t on children’s books – I’d thought of becoming everything from a muralist, wildlife artist, to an interior designer.

The House at Pooh Corner written by A.A Milne, illustrated by E.H Shepherd.

Shepherd’s illustrations have been imprinted on my mind since the age of 6. However looking at these drawings as an adult, and still feeling the pull of them, reignited a childhood desire to create my own illustrated books.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Shelley wrote this breathtaking book between the ages of 17-19, that fact blows me away every time. I first read this aged 20, and I couldn’t believe something so complex, complete and powerful could come from such a young mind. It made me feel like anything was possible.

Alice in Wonderland by Suzy Lee.

During the summer I turned 22, I went with a friend to visit her Aunt who lived in Milan. We visited the Corso Como bookshop and I found this, and I’ve been a fan of Suzy Lee ever since. It felt as though I’d found a masterpiece! Also, for the first time the production of a book, the printing, binding, fonts, even the paper, really interested me.

The Royal Tenenbaums (Film, 2001)

This is a film that’s framed as though it’s a novel, and the characters are loosely based on those of the ‘Glass family’ by J.D Salinger (one of my most beloved writers). It’s a highly stylised film, and the director Wes Anderson’s attention to every detail really appealed to me. Watching this inspired me to think harder, about every element of my work. (P.S ‘Rushmore’ is an even better film.)

Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction by Christopher Butler.

The first picture book I wrote was a postmodern story about a boy who lived in a book (but quite different to Otto!). I chose to write my dissertation on postmodern elements in contemporary picture books, and the subject opened up lots of exciting, dynamic new works to me.

Happy Hocky Family by Lane Smith

I had very little money for books as a poor art student, but I just had to buy this one. It’s Lane Smith at his sharpest, and the retro-looking illustrations are very fashionable in picture books now, but this book preceded the trend.

Belleville Rendez-vous (Animated Film, 2003)

I stumbled upon this genius french animation by Sylvain Chomet, one languid Christmas afternoon. I quickly found a copy, and have been pestering everyone I know to watch it ever since. It’s bizarre, witty, inventive and the hand-drawn animation is rich with detail. After seeing this I searched out French and Belgian illustrators, and discovered Olivier Tallec, Ann Herbauts, Kitty Crowther and Louis Joos.

Bologna Annual 2007 (Bologna Illustrators Exhibition of Children’s Books)

This book is enormously important to me, I was chosen to be part of this exhibition whilst I was in my last year of study. This book was the first time I’d had my work published, and I was the only illustrator selected from Great Britain. The exhibition was held at the Bologna Book Fair, and then went on to tour Korea and Japan. It was in Bologna that I first met my publisher, and my career began.

My huge thanks to Katie for taking the time to share her 8 books with us. If you’d like to read more from Katie, she has a super website here, and she’s also on twitter.

3 Responses

  1. Library Mice

    Belleville Rendez-Vous is soooo great!
    I cannot understand why Olivier Tallec is not published more in this country; “Mercredi a la librairie” and “Il Faudra” are just wonderful.
    I would LOVE to go to Bologna Book Fair *sigh*
    Great post :0)

  2. Zoe

    Thanks Library Mice and Ali for your comments. With its cycling theme we too love Bellevill Rendezvous. I was delighted Katie bent the “rules” a little to include her two films.

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