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Windows into illustration: Matt Carr


Matt Carr caught the eye with his debut Superbat, which uses speech bubbles, sound effects, and the bold colours of action hero comics to create an accessible and visually striking picture book. On publication of his new book, Spyder, he discusses his approach to creating books, and his signature ‘graphicness’.


I don’t really class myself as a proper illustrator. I’m a graphic designer really but I have ended up doing different types of illustration for my day job. When you work for yourself you end up having to say yes to everything to make ends meet. So when I started doing my first kids’ book it took me a while to find a style that worked. In the end it happened organically and sort of reflects my ‘graphicness’ (if that’s a word!). I start each book with a storyboard with little rough sketches and I do a colour cover to help sell in the idea. I make my books square so that when they are open they are like a movie screen, so my illustrations are almost like stills from a film. Then I send it to the publishers, who add their ideas and thoughts. Strawberrie Donnelly (Art Director) and Pauliina Malinen-Teodoro (Editorial Director, Picture Books) at Scholastic have been amazing, in the most part they leave it as it is but Strawberrie is brilliant at speeding up or slowing down the story with her art direction. It’s been a real learning curve because usually I’m a one man band and with my first book Russell The Scared Crow, which I self-published, I made all the decisions (good and bad!) but it’s great to have all their experience helping me to refine the story until it works perfectly.


Once the storyboard stage is done (I usually have shoehorned as many jokes as I can get away with, back in) then I do a full size sketch dummy of the book and this is sent back for approval. With my latest book Spyder I wanted to try and play about with scale and perspective to show how small she really is.


8 Books for Keeps No.229 March 2018


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