Paul O'Sullivan

Paul O'Sullivan

Q&A with Illustrator Paul O'Sullivan

What inspired you to be an illustrator?

Inspiration for becoming an illustrator happened at an early age for me. My mother had me drawing ships as soon as I could hold a pencil... appropriate as we lived in a large naval port. The rigors of life in the public boarding school system as a child taught me to keep a visual diary to escape the grey corridors of routine and latent home sickness, to dwell in other worlds of the imagination. Later books such as Kit Williams' Masquerade and Michael English's The 3D Eye drew me to the pursuit of learning how to draw well... That's a life long mission, you can always improve no matter how old you are and create your own, unique visual language.

How did you get into illustrating children's books?

A leap of faith during a period of uninspiring work had me knocking on the office door of renowned author Gary Crew. My previous experience had been commercial Graphic Design and illustration in the London area. Cap in hand and just wanting something more led to the production of three books starting with The Visions of Ichabod X and some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my life. I guess I got hooked there and then. Hours alone in my studio were never lonely but a pursuit of dreams and a realisation that a blank canvas has infinite potential.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

Oh yes and it's a corker! I'm in the final stages of putting together The Photographer with author Mark Rafidi. Also I'm working on a training manual for special forces and a couple of other picture books... never a dull moment!

What is your professional background?

I have a degree from Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge in Informational Illustration and Diplomas from Plymouth College of Art and Design and Falmouth School of Art in Graphic Design and Illustration. Currently I am freelancing in illustration and working at a local college. My professional career has largely been working alone though I did my tenure in ad agencies in the 1990s.

Any advice you’d like to give aspiring illustrators?

Keep practicing your craft... each day, no matter how small do something that forwards your goal... think outside the box and dream big.

Who/what inspires you?

Shaun Tan... meeting him is quite the experience... outrageous talent packaged in genuine humility!

What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books?

I really love a whole spectrum of books from true stories to fantasy. I absolutely love Stephen Donaldson and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant... I prayed specifically that I wouldn't die whilst he was writing the last trilogy so I could hear how the story ends... I'm absolutely lost in its inner landscape, that guy paints with words! I am an avid collector of anything old, till quite recently my daily transport was a 1931 motorcycle and sidecar!

How can readers contact you?

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