Featured Illustrator: Julia Patton

This month's Featured Illustrator is Northumberland based author/illustrator Julia Patton. With a colourful style based around quirky effervescent characters, Julia's fun illustrations are a popular choice for publishers in both Britain and overseas. See more of her work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery

My creative journey began as early as I can remember, creating a post-office under my Grandmother's table, making envelopes and drawing stamps that I 'posted' to my sister. My most precious gift was a box of glue, paintbrushes, paper and scissors given to me by a dear aunt many years ago. I have always loved cutting and sticking, scribbling and painting, as I still do today. As a child I was captivated by Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss and illustrators such as Heath Robinson.

My undergraduate was at Manchester University studying textiles where I discovered my love for creating beautiful aesthetics. Afterwards I worked for Paperchase and Marks & Spencer for many years, creating greeting cards and wrap until I returned much later to education at Edinburgh University to study MA Illustration. This is where I learned that an image must be much more than just aesthetically beautiful, it must communicate the accompanying text.

Creating picture books is my passion. I'm a true workaholic. I'm in love with my job and I skip to my studio each morning, which is all of three paces away as my studio is a woodshed in my garden overlooking my vegetable patch. I'm lucky enough to be represented by a collection of dedicated Bright agents in London and USA who work tirelessly for me, sourcing international publishers and authors for me to collaborate with. They have seamlessly taken me from a fledgling graduate to an accomplished and globally published author/illustrator, holding my hand every step of the pathway.

Here is the cover of one of my first picture book collaborations with the former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson Don't Call me Mum.
I believe my role as an illustrator is to illuminate words, suggest the magical and interpret the unspoken. A good illustrator can capture the imagination and hearts of the audience whilst visually interpreting the emotion of the characters and adventures they explore. I love the idea that nothing is impossible to render and breathe life into, which can be a quite overwhelming challenge sometimes. As illustrators we have many tangible tools of colour, tone, texture and composition at our disposal but also the responsibility to create a visual vocabulary which expresses those dramatic experiences that occur from physical and emotional journeys. With the help of the brilliant Vivian French and the encouragement from my agents, I now write my own stories. I am currently writing my fifth picture book and find that creating both the narrative and aesthetic makes me feel complete.

Here is another career highlight; I was chosen to be the illustrator of The Curious Tale Of Fi-Rex, the 2016 BBC Children In Need collaboration written by a long list of celebrity writers. 
Every year I visit the International Children's Book Fair in Bologna, Italy. This is an incredible opportunity to meet face-to-face with my international publishers, strengthening those all important relationships. It's a delight to finally meet in person the individual with whom you exchange countless emails at usually very unsociable hours. Attending the trade fair is important for me to see the world's finest publishing houses under one roof, identify emerging trends and see where my work fits into the market - also who's on my next wish-list to work with.

Here is the cover of my first authored and illustrated picture book published by Oxford University Press Unstoppable Max.
I'm currently occupied with exploring narratives that challenge traditional stereotypes and that highlight issues concerning the challenging environments and emotions that contemporary children must navigate. My aim is to produce beautiful picture books that appeal to the target market (parents) with narratives that may inspire and resonate with my intended audience (child).

Here is the cover of the very latest picture book I've written and illustrated called Charlie & Pip. This is a picture book for anyone struggling to find their voice, or who doesn't quite know where they fit in.
And finally, here is an image from my next upcoming picture book I'm putting the finishing touches to, about the world's longest sausage dog Bartelby.


See more of Julia's work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery
Julia's official website is here.
Her agent is The Bright Agency
Julia also has an Amazon Author page, and regularly posts on Twitter


  1. Thanks for the illuminating write up and interesting to learn that you go to Bologna every year. Do you go with your Bright agents? Really look forward to seeing your next books!

    1. Yes, I attend Bologna most years. It's a good time to 'down tools' and I look forward to the social aspect of the fair after months of my solitary studio. My agents go too and we arrange meetings together plus a little bit of supper & prosecco! Showing your own portfolio to publishers is a real treat, but unfortunately rare. I know there are some creatives that find Bologna very overwhelming and intimidating, but I find the opposite. Bologna gives me a whole years' worth of images, experiences and relationships to build upon. Publishing executives are out of their offices, available to chat, and these have proved to be the most fruitful meetings. Thank you for your kind words.


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