Book Illustrator


The freelance artist and cartoonist Richard Deverell's illustration portfolio features book jackets for adults and children, children's bible sstory illustrations, picture books and pop-up books, as well as examples of a large number of commissions for educational material for all ages, including EFL material for teens and adults.

A book illustrator is generally regarded as a co-author with the writer when his work appears on at least half of the pages. Illustrations in a book can in themselves tell the story, they can play a significant role alongside words, or they can be merely decoration, perhaps just a frontispiece, adding a little spice and to assist the reader in understanding characters and settings. Mention book illustration and most people will think "children's books". At a certain stage in a reader's life, illustrations are no longer deemed to be necessary by some. The words form their own pictures in your head. This is one of the great pleasures of reading, to let the black type on a white page create an unlimited stock of images in your mind. Until that day dawns, we have the help of book illustrators to illuminate the text. However most adults have strong memories of illustrated books of their childhood and can vividly recall their favourites and we must never forget that in days gone by, the work of many artists featured in popular books and magazines. Novels in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries frequently had line illustrations within the text, and even coloured plates that made the book a treasure to own. Charles Dickens worked very closely with a series of illustration artists, and for his serialised stories in monthly or weekly magazines, would brief the illustrator before he had started to write the story. He was domineering and hard to please. Robert Seymour was an established and popular illustrator before Dickens appeared on the London scene, a painter and political cartoonist who had also been commissioned to illustrate the works of Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth. Seymour's publishers approached the young, upcoming Dickens with a proposal to write a series of short sketches to enhance the work the artist, but Dickens insisted on his words taking precedence over the pictures which should complement his text. The ill-advised collaboration was a disaster and an argument between the two men led the already emotionally fragile Seymour to commit suicide.

There is a strong tradition of children's book illustration in the UK. The Victorian era produced some of our most accomplished children's illustrators. Edmund Dulac (French) Arthur Rackham, Kate Greenaway, William Heath Robinson and Beatrix Potter. These book illustrators took their work very seriously. Some taking it to a sublime level. Arthur Rackham's illustrations for Wagner's Ring Cycle had a profound effect on the philosopher and writer, C S Lewis. These illustrators were all freelance artists, not employed by a publishing house but commissioned project-by-project. Hence they could work for several publishers, though some, like the author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, worked exclusively for one. Famous partnerships between writers and book illustrators include Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, Terry Pratchett and Josh Kirby, A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard and Janet and Allan Ahlberg.


Book illustration is no longer limited to the printed page. With the advent of the Ebook and downloadable apps books can now be viewed on laptops, iPads, Kindles, even mobile phones. This unlocks the static page to all kinds if digital wizardry. The reader can stroke the screen with their finger to activate all kinds of magic movements on the screen. People are now looking at animated books on their hand-held screens. But with all this digital magic, we must not forget that illustrators, cartoonists and graphic artists have created the original images. The techno geeks need something to play around with in the first place.

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