I’m an illustrator and designer from Ireland. I’ve illustrated for the Guardian, the Independent and Pomme D’api as well as done illustrations and design work for international advertising campaigns. During my travels in Asia I became interested in fair trade, and when I moved to London I became involved in the Fair Trade movement and with People Tree. In 2007 I was named by Time magazine in their “DESIGN 100” list for this fair trade work, a list that also included some of the world’s most influential designers and architects. Little Owl Lost was my first picture book
I have been a full-time illustrator for the past seven years. I have been working mainly for magazines and in advertising but I always wanted to write and illustrate my own children’s book.
Although the plot of Little Owl Lost changed a few times, there were a few things that I was sure I wanted to keep in the story somehow:
1. I wanted to do a fun and light book that was theatrical and very visual. In Europe we have plays for children called pantomimes where there is some visual humor. The “here is your mother!” “Are you sure this is not your mother?” dialogue is something that can engage the children. At each character meeting hopefully the child will engage and join in and say “No, no, that’s not his mother’.
2. Also in pantomimes, often the actor is standing behind the set out of view of another actor but the children can see him and will call out. That is why I wanted to have the mother in all of the pages but hidden from first view. That was very important to me, so it can be read and re-read, as there is something more to the first viewing that the children can pick up on.
3. I wanted it to be repetitive, so that young children can join easily with the story.
4. I wanted it to be comprehensible without words. Even very young children can follow in some way with the images.
5. I wanted to have some sort of visual symbolism in the book. Although the story is quite lighthearted, I like the idea and imagery of a little animal being lost in a forest. It is a strong image, and it can be applied to abstract notions of “being lost.” That is why I wanted to add the Robinson Crusoe quote. I like the idea of being “lost.” It can have more abstract meanings so everyone can relate to it.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
1. Little Owl Lost actually first came out in Korean. So although I had written it, I couldn’t read it. I just looked at the pictures.
2. My editor tells me I’m like the squirrel in the story. I get a bit ahead of myself. I want to get finished with writing the story as soon as I can so that I can get to drawing the pictures. Then I have to re-draw the pictures because I hadn’t thought the story through. I should listen to her more often.
3. “Coloring in” is easy if you do it on the computer.