Featured Illustrator: Sharon Davey

 This month's Featured Illustrator is Sharon Davey. A background in theatre design led Sharon to children's book illustration, since when her work has explored character and narrative in a range of  techniques. See a full range of Sharon's work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery

 There has never been a scrap of paper safe in my house, receipts, magazines, phone bills- I will draw on just about anything I can get my hands on. I remember, aged 10, my mother trying to pay with a drawing I had done on a napkin in an Italian restaurant. Now, I’m sure it was rubbish but it was so lovely for my parents to have real confidence in my style. After devouring every perishable surface at home I went to Art College and bothered all the tutors to learn their ways of working. ‘What’s that? Can I paint that? Can I glue this to that?’ A constant barrage of questions and energy all day long meant the tutors would often give me the keys to lock up at night. I worked in print, paint, wood, cardboard, lolly sticks, chicken wire and over-sized corduroy trousers. I made something every day, I still do. I have an impulsive, collaborative mind that challenges me and artists who have experimented in different mediums really inspire me. The great David Hockney is a personal hero and I loved seeing Leigh Hodgkinson’s multi platformed artwork at the Winchester conference.

I’ve worked in theatre for a long time now. I was attracted to design because I got to draw daily, paint on huge canvases, make costumes, hats, puppets, and people always expect strangeness from theatre folk, so I had found my work family; great. It took me years and years to figure out that through the theatre arts I was telling stories, and I was a storyteller. For example, all the fur coats in my production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe also had names and personalities. A clear sign of characterization? Or madness? I loved to create worlds and imagine scenarios of what happened to the characters once the curtains had closed. I started scrawling tales, first for my kids; shout out Neve and Alex. Then for family members and always accompanied with illustrations (and sometimes hand puppets).

As soon as the characters were battling for space in my sketchbooks I started Creative Fox – a blog for my drawings to gather their audience and space for me to announce exhibition dates and news. At this stage I signed up to as many short courses as I could afford and learnt about creative writing, digital and book illustration. These were key in getting my head around the technicalities of children’s illustration, that and Google, we all love Google.

The illustration side of my business has steadily increased in the past few years and I now move seamlessly between theatre and illustration, depending on the project. I work predominantly from my studio in Surrey and love to hear of new, exciting projects that need a creative mind.

As you can probably guess, my style fluxes from traditional pen and ink to digital, with a bit of scanned coloured pencil in between. I’ve been working hard recently, formatting my artwork into one clear style (that elusive thing the agents are always asking for?) and although it’s like pulling teeth, I feel confident I’m on to something with my portfolio. I love to work in my sketchbook but I’m such a culprit of the random doodle I have to have a cut and paste day at least once a month. My desk is a sea of super important scraps, notes, torn up magazines and biscuit crumbs. I really admire those minimalist, super-efficient designers who work in a bubble of clean. I am never going to manage that but every now and again, I do clean everything into one drawer and ignore it really, really well.

Even though I’m a ‘wear party shoes to do the dishes’ sort of person and have loads of fun in my job, I do put the hours in. Usually at night, fully caffeinated and listening to Spotify. Whist being creative daily comes easily to me I do have to chisel time into my busy life to take care of all those other self employment items. Luckily, I have had some really great clients and get to work on some very cool projects for both theatre and illustration. I’ve loved seeing my artwork at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and working with self-publishing writers. Several have contacted me since January so I am working on book projects for the next few months. I’m always happy to talk kids books with them and usually assist with page breaks and storyboarding even if they are not ready to create a full book.

Drawing, creating and making are extensions of my ever-evolving monkey brain and my advice to people starting out or just changing career is to make something every day. Challenge yourself with a character, subject or animal. Write a poem, paint a picture, collect magazine cut outs of clouds, anything, just make, make, make. Write stories that make you laugh and draw pictures that make you feel full inside. Then do it again and again until you are giggling into your porridge and cannot wait another minute to share your creations with another.

Last year was my first conference with SCBWI and although I struggled at being socially inept with other humans I really enjoyed meeting people at the different stages of their publishing journey. I was really shocked to win the portfolio competition. I hadn’t remembered I’d entered and was busily stashing biscuits into my cheeks when the announcement was made. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

I’m a big fan of social media, posting my process is almost as fun as drawing it in the first place. If you want to talk illustration or children’s books, drop me a line because I love a good natter. I’ll bring the biscuits.


See more of Sharon's work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery. Find Sharon at @thecreativefox on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or email Sharon here.


  1. Fascinating reading such a positive outlook to a creative career. An exceptional talented lady and an inspiration.

  2. A very versatile established Artist with a creative outlook. Obviously very passionate about her work.

  3. So proud of having such a talented and inspirational sister. Keep inspiring the next generation of writers, illustrators and creative thinkers x


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