25th of March, 2013
International honour for 'In The Lion'Great news- my book In The Lion was selected for the International Youth Library's 2013 White Ravens list!
250 books were selected from around the world. Congratulations to the other Australian and New Zealand creators who were featured on the list.
12th of November, 2012
artwork still up for grabsFor those of you who missed out on the One Word One Day auction back in September, good news: there's still some pieces that could be yours.
A few pieces didn't sell on the night, including a sketch by me plus art from Bruce Whatley, Ann James, Mitch Vane, Sam Hughes, Liliana Stafford, Jason Chatfield, Wendy Binks and David Miller.
The online auction closes Thursday November 22- check out the site for more details. All funds raised go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
10th of November, 2012
Save the Dates!There's two very important dates coming up-
Sunday November 25th, 2-5pm: Studio Open Day!
My studio is in a Leederville complex called The Ward, and on Nov 25th we're having an open day.
Come see how I make books, and what I'm working on next.
I'll have prints from In The Lion and The Last Viking for sale.
Plus you'll get to meet all the other amazing artists here: filmmakers, photographers, illustrators, painters, textile workers... it will be awesome.
Come down and say hi- we'll be open from 2pm to 5pm.
More info on the Artsource website.
Sunday December 2nd, 11am-4pm: The Literature Centre's Family Open Day!
Come down to Fremantle to one of our state's literary treasures.
See the original artwork for In The Lion!
There'll be prints from In The Lion and The Last Viking for sale here too.
Join me for a workshop at 12pm or 3pm.
The Lit Centre bookshop will be fully stocked too, bring your credit card to stock up on Christmas presents :)
More info on the Lit Centre website.
12th of September, 2012
Children's Book Week, Cocos styleAs part of my Children's Book Month, I was invited to the Cocos Islands.
Yep. You heard right.
I was flown out to the middle of the Indian Ocean, to a beautiful tropical atoll, a ring of 26 islands of which only 2 are inhabited, and I was paid to be there and draw with groups of schoolkids.
My job is tops.
The 2 inhabited islands are called West Island (where most of the Aussie expats live) and Home Island (where the Cocos Malay community has lived for 8 generations). The two islands each have their own school, and I visited both schools over three days. The kids were the loveliest, most talented, most well-behaved I've ever come across anywhere.
Maybe they're lovely kids because they live in such a beautiful, safe place. Everyone is friendly and relaxed. People leave their car keys in the ignition, they leave their doors unlocked... it's a different world.
The wildlife is hilarious. West Island is home to feral chickens and goats, and several species of crab- hermit crabs, land crabs, and my favourite, ghost crabs. These guys are the same colour as sand, and when they spot you they take off like they're jet-powered. They run at almost 2 metres per second, straight to the water's edge where they can bury themselves in the mud. Only their eyes stick up from the sand, watching and waiting until you've moved on. One day I also found a rather large land crab blocking my way to the library door; he held up his claw in protest. I had to shoo him out of the way with my flipflops.
If you're into fishing, birdwatching, windsurfing, kitesurfing or snorkelling, Cocos is the place to be. The most picturesque of the islands is Direction Island, where the locals go on a saturday to spend a day swimming in pristine water, lazing around on soft white beaches, or watching reef sharks and leopard fish going about their business in 'The Rip', a deep trench connecting the ocean to the lagoon.
There's Home Island Primary School in the background...
...and here's the view from the classroom.
Here's me showing the year 9s and 10s how to make character maquettes...
and here's the maquettes they made!
Here's me with years 4 to 6 on Home Island doing a cartooning workshop
and helping out one of the younguns
and leading the whole Home Island Primary School in a collaborative comic.
Here's what they came up with- a pelican called Bob who wants to get home:
Here's what years' 4-6 came up with for their collaborative comic:
Another hard day at the office...
Thanks to the Cocos chalkies for having us, in particular Mike and Jan. Thanks to 'Lameass' and 'Ringer' for making our Hash House Harrier experience one to remember (I'm lucky I still can). Thanks to the ladies at Dory's for making great coffee. Thanks to Jose for our lunch packs! Thanks to everyone else we met who made our stay so memorable. And thanks to The Literature Centre for sending me.
2nd of September, 2012
Children's Book Week, Kalgoorlie styleI spent the last week of August in Kalgoorlie, an old mining town in Western Australia's goldfields. The Library hosted me, and I saw three school groups per day for 5 days.
I'd been to Kalgoorlie twice before but only ever briefly (my first visit was for year 7 camp back in 1994). This time around I got to explore it more, and also see the nearby towns of Coolgardie and Kambalda.
Out there I was struck by how big the sky was. Sometimes you can see all the way to the horizon with nothing in the way.
They've got big trucks too.
And a big pit- a superpit, in fact.
I turned 30 during the week, and it was definitely one to remember. I had three different school groups (one of which was an entire school) sing me happy birthday. One of the groups had prepared me a huge bundle of birthday cards! There's too many to put them all up here, but I'll make a photo gallery on facebook to show them off. Here's my favourite one, from Michael. Great picture too.
The daughter of one of the librarians made me a lion cake as well. I was spoilt rotten.
I also did a short radio interview with fellow author Lorraine Horsley when I was visiting Kalgoorlie for Children's Book Week. Lorraine runs the morning show on ABC Goldfields. Thanks for the plug, Raino! You can find the interview here.
Thanks to Claire and Peter for feeding me and showing me around, and all the staff at Kalgoorlie Library for having me.
Here's some viking god designs from Rohan and Christian in Kalgoorlie: a colourful version of Thor, and a hairy bloke called 'Bothgolong', the god of fire and leading the Vikings.
30th of August, 2012
Children's Book Week 2012Children's Book Week has become Children's Book Term for me this year.
Thank you to Mt Hawthorn Primary, Rockingham Library, Tranby College, Melville Libraries, Clarkson Library, Kwinana Library, South Perth Library, Manning Library and Subiaco Library for inviting me.
workshopping under Shaun Tan's mural at Subiaco Library
Some feedback from the sessions so far:
"James' wonderful storytelling captured everyone's attention, great research and great activities."
"Best Book Week session I have ever attended... Subiaco Primary School"
"The combination of drawing, history facts about Vikings and storytelling was fantastic and really captured the children's attention and engaged them."
Here's some pieces of work that students gave me after the sessions. In one activity, I ask students to design their own viking god or goddess. Here we have the God of the Wind, by Tom...
Isabella the Goddess of Patterns, by Maddy...
and the familiar looking "God of Literature (books)", by Catherine. Aw shucks :)
In another activity I ask students to show me what crazy things the lion has eaten. (You can download the blackline master on the In The Lion page). Here's one example, from Ivan:
And I think this is my favourite letter ever:
29th of August, 2012
better homes & gardens for Alzheimer's sufferersEarlier this year I worked with Alzheimer's Australia on an interactive website.
The website shows how to adapt living environments for people with Alzheimer's.
I did the illustrations for each living environment. The illustrations stretched my perspective skills (and vice versa- I stretched the perspective in quite a few of these!). Here's some examples.
You can check out the website here.
15th of August, 2012
In The Lion launch and Family DayOn July 30, my friends, family and the Perth SCBWI crew gathered at Beaufort Street Books to launch my new book In The Lion.
My cousin, author Jon Doust, launched the book fantastically. Thanks Jon!
Then on August 11th, we had a family day at Beaufort Street Books! It was an all-day extravaganza featuring
and gingerbread lion decorating.
(that's icing inside the syringes... we thought it might make it less messy. We were wrong)
Thanks to everyone who came out to the events to support my new book.
Thanks also to Jane and co. at Beaufort Street Books for hosting both events, and for all your support over the last two months.
Thanks to Margaret, the fantastic WA sales rep for Walker, and of course to Walker Books Australia for publishing In The Lion!
You can buy In The Lion from your local bookshop, or from booktopia.com.au (Australia) or Book Depository (UK).
2nd of August, 2012
Buy art, raise funds for literacyThe 'One Word One Day' auction is coming soon!
One Word One Day is a fundraiser for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Artists from around Australia had a few hours to create artwork based on a one-word theme.
For Perth artists, the theme was 'nightly'. You can see the pieces I made in this post.
The auction will be held on Tuesday 25 September at the ABC Studios in Ultimo, NSW.
Those who cannot attend can bid by telephone or as an absentee.
Full details are at www.onewordoneday.com.au.
(I've got my eye on the Shaun Tan original).
Download pdf of the flyer
2nd of August, 2012
Throw your kids to The Lion on Aug 11th
Calling all families, little kids and big kids...
To celebrate National Bookshop Day, and the launch of my new book In The Lion, I'm having a family day at one of Perth's greatest independent booksellers- Beaufort St Books.
Come listen to a story or two,
do some drawing,
get a book signed,
decorate gingerbread lions,
and have your photo taken INSIDE the LION!
'In The Lion' family day
Saturday August 11th, 10am - 4pm
Beaufort St Books, 567 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley.
RSVP to Beaufort St Books on 6142 7996.
See you there!
Download pdf of flyer
1st of August, 2012
There's a lion on the loose!He's escaped!
My new book In The Lion is in all good bookstores now.
Magpies magazine released the first review:
"The format of the text is delightfully repetitive... in true children's picture story book tradition it is up to the protagonist Richard to save the day! The illustrations are colourful and there is action within for the reader to giggle over. A fun story." - Sharon Greenaway
But wait- THERE'S MORE! For a limited time, some bookstores are giving away a free In The Lion library bag with every purchase!
The flap opens up to make Liev the Lion roar.
12th of July, 2012
Telling Tales in Balingup this weekendI'll be in Balingup this weekend (Sat 14th and Sun 15th July) for the Telling Tales Children's Literature Festival.
Last year was my first time at the festival, and I was really impressed with the way the community runs it and gets behind it. It's not that far a drive from Perth city - only an hour south-east of Bunbury - and well worth the visit.
There's a great lineup this year, including Sean E Avery, David Caddy, Deb Fitzpatrick, Elaine Forrestal, Gabriel Evans, Sonia Martenez and Chris Nixon.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Here's a official blurb about the festival:
"Telling Tales in Balingup is an exciting children's literacy and story telling event. the next event will be held on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th July 2012. Held on the middle weekend of the July school holidays. The event is designed for primary school aged children 4yrs - 13yrs.
A host of published WA authors and illustrators will present interactive workshops throughout the weekend. A multiple of sessions are on offer at any given time so you can select a session which best suits you and your children. Children will also be able to learn the art of traditional book binding, and take home their very own book.
Adults can of course accompany the children to the workshops and enjoy a coffee in the cafés or browse the many interesting retail outlets. Balingup is renowned for its fabulous events and is sure to host a weekend worth attending."
For more info, check out the
Kids Registration Form
I'll be doing some talks and workshops on both Saturday and Sunday, talking about my new book In The Lion!
Hope to see you there.
Me with Liev the Lion at last year's Telling Tales
10th of July, 2012
In The Lion book trailer
I was busting to animate a scene from the book. When I rough out the illustrations, I see it as a movie in my head. And now, part of it is a real little movie!
I'd love to go through and do the whole book. It would take about a month though- it took 14 hours to do a minute's worth of footage.
Hope you like.
5th of July, 2012
The Lion is comingIt's coming! It's almost here!
My second book, In The Lion, will be released August 1st 2012.
Official launch details coming soon.
In the meantime you can see some sneak peeks on the official page.
5th of June, 2012
There was a Babushka who swallowed a flyAn illustrator friend, Karen Blair, recently had her first bub. So our local illustrator crew made a set of Russian nesting dolls for her, based on The old lady who swallowed a fly.
It was my job to do the goat.
here's the sketch-
here's the finished painted goat-
and here's the whole set.
The amazing artists are Shannon Melville, Sam Hughes, Frane Lessac, Briony Stewart, Campbell Whyte and Sean E Avery. Such a fun project!
4th of June, 2012
The Book of FaceI've started up a facebook page as a way to keep in touch.
I'll post up links to writing and illustrating-related things, more regularly than on this site.
Click the link to like!
4th of June, 2012
One Word, One DayBack in April I participated in "One Word One Day"- a fundraiser for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, supported by the Australian Society of Authors and Micador.
We had lots of luscious Micador art supplies, 3 or 4 hours, and a one-word theme ('nightly'). We made pictures, and they'll be auctioned some time in July, with all proceeds helping the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Most importantly: please check out the Indigenous Literacy Foundation website and register your interest in the online auction.
It's a great cause, so get behind it :)
Here's the main piece I made:
You can see rest of the pieces I put together (including my prep sketches) on the Micador website.
4th of June, 2012
Look, mate- a BookplateHere's a great project I was involved in earlier this year.
The Better Beginnings literacy program asked a bunch of local illustrators to design a bookplate (one of those 'This Book Belongs To' labels that goes on the inside cover of a book).
The best part is, they're all completely free to download and print!
You can download designs by me, Shaun Tan, Moira Court, Rebecca Cool, Karen Blair, Frane Lessac, Tracey Gibbs, Chris Nixon and Ambelin Kwaymullina.
Here's my design (click to go through to the Better Beginnings bookplate page).
8th of May, 2012
Tips for aspiring creatorsI've got some new talks to prepare for over the next few months- talks about how I got to where I am, and what advice I might have for aspiring children's writers and illustrators.
To clarify my thoughts, and to hopefully provide some help to you out there in cyberspace, I've posted these up in the tutorial section of my site. Here's three articles:
If you want a meatier resource, I recommend Hazel Edwards' webpage for aspiring writers.
2nd of May, 2012
Last Viking flying highMy first picture book The Last Viking (written by the great Norman Jorgensen) has won the 2012 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' (SCBWI) Crystal Kite Award.
This is a members' choice award. Writers and illustrators from each region voting on their favourite title for the past year.
Congratulations to all the other Crystal Kite winners around the world! And many many thanks to all the Australian and New Zealander SCWBIans for choosing our book; it's very humbling to have your support.
18th of April, 2012
Janet Shaw is A Bit of a SuperheroHere's the cover of Janet Shaw's new book, 'Bit of a Super Hero'. Janet is a Perth-based author, social worker, medal-winning ex-paralympian and motivational speaker. As well as these achievements, she has faced blindness and cancer. She is a definite hero.
I was very happy to get to work on the cover of Janet's book, and to share the duties with two illustrator friends. I did the linework, Briony Stewart did the colour, then Shannon Melville did the layout and design.
'Bit of a Super Hero' is available online now.
14th of April, 2012
Interview on 95.3fm, Perth World RadioYesterday, Peter Jeffery from 95.3fm interviewed myself and talented fellow Perth artist Sean E Avery about making a living as children's book illustrators. Click below to hear the interview.
Audio courtesy of The World of Art, 6EBA 95.3fm World Radio (Perth, Western Australia)
3rd of April, 2012
Children's Book Council of Australia Awards, 2012Brilliant brilliant news...
The Last Viking, written by Norman Jorgensen and illustrated by me, has been shortlisted in the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards 2012!
We scored two mentions:
- Notable Book, Picture Book of the Year category
- Shortlisted Book, Early Childhood category
I'm very surprised and very chuffed. It's one of those cliches... ever since I was a kid, I dreamed that one day one of my books would have the shiny CBCA sticker on the cover- and now it's happened, hooray! It's a great honour and a great affirmation. Congrats Norm! And thanks to the CBCA :)
31st of March, 2012
another sneak peek at 'In The Lion'My next book, 'In The Lion', will be released by Walker Books in August 2012.
Here's another sneak peek...
20th of March, 2012
Last Viking shortlisted for 4 awardsNorman Jorgensen and I received great news this year regarding our children's book, The Last Viking. It has been shortlisted for 4 awards!
- the 2012 Western Australian Young Readers' Book Awards
- the 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature
- the 2012 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Crystal Kite Awards
- the 2011 Aurealis Awards for Australian fantasy, science fiction and horror creators
It's a great buzz to be nominated with Norman, and also to be nominated alongside illustrators that I look up to.
27th of December, 2011
New illustrations finishedI've just finished the illustrations for a new children's book that I wrote a while back. It's called 'In The Lion' and will be published by Walker Books in the second half of 2012. It's a black comedy for kids and that's all I'll say for now... I'll put some more info on the homepage throughout 2012- in the meantime, here's a little sneak peek.
All the best for 2012! May your new year be filled with happiness, growth and creative fun times.
23rd of November, 2011
Top marks for bookmarksAs part of this years Premier's Summer Reading Challenge (supporting the Multiple Sclerosis Society), students from across the state were invited to design a bookmark. The judges included Bosko the Reading Challenge mascot and myself. As it was Movember, I was sporting a 3 week-old moustache at the time of judging.
We had many many entries to get through...
...but we eventually decided on two winners- Kaden Prowse from Swanbourne Primary School and Taylor Anderson from Newman Primary School. Congrats you two :)
2nd of September, 2011
HeARTlines in MundairingAlthough Children's Book Week is over for another year, the fun ain't over yet - because the HeARTlines Festival is just getting started.
This biennial festival celebrates children's literature and book illustration, and is held at the Mundairing Arts Centre in the Perth hills. This year HeARTlines is dedicated to the memory of the festival's founder, WA author Louise Schofield. Louise was an incredible woman and it's an honour to be a part of her festival this year.
I'll have original artwork from The Last Viking on display in the exhibition, and prints for sale too... the exhibition opens tonight (Friday 2nd September) and closes Sunday 9th October.
I'll also be running a school holiday cartooning workshop during the festival - here's the details:
Friday 7th October
Cost: $15 ($10 for members of the Mundairing Arts Centre or Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre).
Call (08) 9295 3991 to book your place.
28th of June, 2011
The Last Viking launched
(L-R: Author Norman Jorgensen, Illustrator- me, Kris Williams, our editor Cate Sutherland, Fremantle Children's Literature Centre director Lesley Reece)
It was a dark and stormy night...
Actually, it was. Norm and I had been watching the weather forecast all week, wondering what the heavens would bring on the Friday night of our launch. By Tyr's Day, we could see that rain was likely. By Wodin's Day, rain was certain. Come Freyja's Day, when the wind didn't let up all day, we knew a storm was brewing. Thor was angry. The joke going around was that his invite had been lost on it's way to Asgard. But maybe that was true, and he thought we were snubbing him... and when you snub a Norse god, you get a once-in-10-years weather event. Thirty millimetres of rain fell in 30 minutes: the precise 30 minutes in which our guests were en route to the launch.
Thus, three hundred drenched but daring Vikings descended upon the Fremantle Children's Literature Centre to celebrate the release of The Last Viking. Kris Williams, literary Valkyrie and descendant of Danish brewers, did us the great honour of launching the book. Norman and I were blown away by the turnout- it was wonderful to see so many of our friends, family and colleagues squished into that room, ready to party with us. It was exactly how I imagine Valhalla would be.
While Norm and I signed copies of books, Normans and Saxons murdered each other on the lawn. All in a night's fun for the Grey Company Medieval Reenactment Group.
Grey company staff on their tea break
Special Thanks to Cate, Cathy, Claire, Clive and everyone at Fremantle Press; Lesley and all the lovely ladies at the Lit Centre; the gallant warriors from the Grey Company; and everyone who has supported Norm and I as we've put the book together.
There's more photos from the night on the Fremantle Press facebook page. Check it out, and like the Press while you're at it. They're always bringing out great Western Australian books from Western Australian creators. Support your local!
So now the book is out- you can buy it from all good bookshops, or from the Fremantle Press website.
Norm and I busily signing
(all photos courtesy Fremantle Press)
1st of June, 2011
Let the Pillaging BeginIt's only three weeks until we launch The Last Viking!
The Last Viking launch
Friday June 24
6pm for a 6:30pm start
Fremantle Children's Literature Centre (Old Prison Hospital)
cnr Knutsford and Hampton Rd, Fremantle
RSVP to Fremantle Press on (08) 9430 6331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Come invade the Literature Centre and help us celebrate.
Here's the book trailer to get you in the Viking mood...
17th of April, 2011
Sun on my Stubble - workshops in the WheatbeltFour tanks of fuel,
5 meat pies,
6 choc milks,
2000km of driving,
and 10 million bugs stuck to the front of the car.
These were small prices to pay when I had the opportunity to run 4 youth workshops in the WA Wheatbelt.
In early April I visited schools and youth centres in Bruce Rock, Moora, Wagin and Toodyay. I taught around 100 young people the basics of cartooning, and each student worked on their own one-page comic story.
Students in some of the areas we visited will continue on with comics in school next term, producing longer stories about issues affecting them in their towns. Topics will include 'bullying' and 'a sense of belonging'.
Bruce Rock rocks
serious faces for the camera
Drawing Bart Simpson
They all wanted to wear my glasses
Next time I'll have to bring extra pairs so we can all wear them
Many thanks to Regional Development Australia for inviting me out. It was a brilliant experience for me - much more interesting than sitting at home in my studio twiddling my thumbs - so I'm looking forward to more community-based work in the future.
10th of February, 2011
Artwork complete for The Last Viking
The illustrations for my first picture book, The Last Viking, are all done! Hooray!
The Last Viking is written by Norman Jorgensen and will be published by Fremantle Press on June 24 2011.
The supremely talented book designer Tracey Gibbs has been laying out the pages and I'm really pleased with the proofs so far.
More info on The Last Viking...
10th of November, 2010
The Seven Year Itch
You might have noticed that the cartoons on the front of the Quokka have changed. I resigned from drawing their covers a few months ago, in August, so that I could focus on picture book projects like this one.
My 1st cover was in June 2003... my last cover, Aug 2010. It's been 7 and a bit years, and it has flown by.
It's been strange not drawing the covers any more, but it's also been nice not having the weekly deadline. I do miss drawing the little guys.
Thanks to Quokka Press for giving me a space to practice and learn. And thanks to the people out there who've sent me comments and encouragement over the years.
You can see some of my favourite covers in the Quokka Gallery. Also, I posted the last year's worth of covers on my blog.
27th of June, 2010
Ever wonder how a picture book is made?I'm working on the illustrations for my first picture book, called The Last Viking.
The book centres on Josh, a shy boy who is afraid of everything. His Pop teaches him about Vikings, those mighty warriors of the North, and Josh makes up his mind to follow in their fearless footsteps. He takes the Viking name Knut, dons his home-made armour and builds a longship. When bullies threaten Knut he must find the courage to stand up for himself- and luckily, the Viking Gods have been watching...
It's written by Norman Jorgensen- author of Jack's Island, In Flander's Fields, and the Ashe of the Outback series. It will be published by Fremantle Press in mid-2011.
Norman and I will be sharing the book-making process on a blog- come behind the scenes and see how it works! There'll be competitions to enter too.
Check it out at www.knutthelastviking.wordpress.com.
22nd of May, 2010
State Library workshopLast Thursday I was lucky enough to spend an hour running a workshop with some talented cartoonists. We covered facial expressions, bodies, movement and animals.
The expressions section resulted in some interesting photos: see below.
Thanks to both the State Library and the Wild West Comedy Festival for having me along.
I'm going to grow an afro THIS BIG
I can smell it. I hope they didn't hear it
28th of May, 2010
SCBWI- Scribblers Cover a Bovine With IllustrationsEarlier this year, myself and other local members of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) painted a fibreglass cow. (Have a squiz at Frane Lessac's blog for more pictures of our group at work.)
me painting a cow's bum
It was an art project for the Cow Parade, which came to Margaret River in March.
The cow features paintings by SCBWI illustrators Matt Ottley, Frane Lessac, Shannon Melville, Sam Hughes, Karen Blair, Briony Stewart and Wendy Binks. The cow also features cover images from books by SCBWI authors.
The finished cow was on display at McLeod Creek Wines during the Parade...
...but is now at the State Library in the children's Mezzanine section. Stop by and say moo sometime.
10th of May, 2010
Hello! Welcome to the new website. It's been in the works for a long time.
Thanks to Studio Robot, aka Jessee, for the awesome design.
Check the links up to the top- there's galleries, tutorials, and info on upcoming workshops. Soon I'll post some sneak-peeks at upcoming books.
If you'd like to stay up-to-date, sign up for my newsletter at the top-right. I won't spam you, I promise.
Thanks again- feel free to stop by whenever you're in the area. Got to go, must feed the quokkas.