This month's Featured Illustrator is Rikin Parekh from North London. Many readers will be familiar with his quirky fun-filled pen and ink characters, seen regularly in the SCBWI Illustration Showcase and other selections. But he's worked in a variety of media, with an art career that started in the film business! See a wide selection of Rikin's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.
I’ve always loved to draw and paint. It was the only really good thing I could do! When I joined my second primary school, I did an amazing drawing to illustrate the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Instantly I was royalty and I had unknowingly taken the mantle of the class’s best artist from a now rather grumpy 7 year old girl!
Books and their illustrations fascinated me. I would stare at the drawings for ages trying to work out how that illustrator came up with such wonderful characters.
|The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr: my first true illustration inspiration!|
|The Meanies by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Deirdre Gardiner: a memorable picture book that was so funny!|
Picture books were my one true love, even though later on in my life I would forget about them and become infatuated by the world of film production design and all things Jim Henson.
During High School, I drew all the time, excelling at art, and began to think of what I really would love to do in the future. I decided back then to become a comic book artist, drawing Spiderman and Predator and Aliens! The careers advisor was helpful, telling me that it might be good to have a back up like maths, just in case things went pear shaped. I hated maths but tried anyway. Thanks to my mum and her condition that I get tutored, I passed!
I failed A-Level maths and everyone was sad. I wasn’t! I continued to hone my craft and got rejected many times by comic book publishers in the US.
|Predator Comic Book|
My tutor expressed how important print was for comic books and books in general. This pushed me to understand the importance of experimenting with line and process. I loved life drawing. The tutor emphasised how much passion goes into just drawing one single line.
I then wrangled my dream spot at the University of Westminster in Harrow, on their Illustration degree. I was over the moon! My tutor loved films and introduced me to storyboards and production illustration whilst at the same time nurturing my comedic side and edging me to develop children’s illustrations. He suggested I read Kipling’s Just So Stories, and I was hooked.
|Jurassic Park Storyboard panel|
After university, I freelanced as a Storyboard Artist in the film/TV industry and worked mainly on monster movies. I was also working as a Bookseller in Borders and met an independent publisher who was looking for an illustrator for picture books. I somehow ended up working on four picture books!
It was also at this time that I decided to leave the world of production illustration behind and go after my childhood passion - picture books! I discovered SCBWI and am so glad that I did! Since joining, I’ve been fortunate to have an illustration of mine featured at every Illustrator Members’ Showcase and have recently won the Re-Imagine a Roald Dahl Character, competition with my take on Crocky-Wock from the poem, The Crocodile!
|Mr. Crocky Wock!|
I’m hoping to soon bag a wonderful agent and have a wee lovely line of picture books that I’ve been writing!
Don't forget to check Rikin's Featured Illustrator Gallery for a broad selection of his work. Rikin Parekh's personal website is here. Follow him on Twitter @r1k1n, or contact him by email