UNDISCOVERED VOICES INTERVIEWS: Jacob Turner

This week we focus on Undiscovered Voices illustrator Jacob Turner, who chose to use a silhouette papercut technique for his Arthurian contribution to the anthology.




  • Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less


I’m a school’s library services librarian (free books and a salary!), trying to break into illustration whilst doing things like organising book awards and writing competitions. I trained in stage design and storyboarding, but early on discovered a love of children’s books (though no one seemed interested in my picture book about a boy with no friends who turns into a child-eating spider).

  •   Who or what do you think informs your illustration the most?


For the last few years, my long-lost twelve-year-old self has informed a lot of my art as I returned to the myths and legends and fantasy-game books that I grew up with. I’ve also been inspired by some of the more unconventional artists working today, such as Shaun Tan and Chris Riddell.

  •   What materials do you enjoy using the most?


Materials wise, I wasted too many years on purely digital art before rediscovering pens and colour pencils – I’ve realised how much fun I was missing out on when I was drawing and colouring just using a tablet. Though I still dabble in pixel art, I sometimes think that I am the only illustrator who has no interest in using Apple products.




  •   Why did you choose the scene you illustrated for UV2018?


This theme was actually my second choice for UV – I’d already begun work on one of the other categories in an entirely different style that involved fewer beasts with sharp teeth, but my heart just wasn’t in it (despite that scene involving manic squirrels mobbing someone). The great thing about rendering myths and legends in silhouette is that it lets you retain all the nasty bits that would otherwise offend / cause moral outrage if fully realised. I’d only ever completed one drawing in papercut style (a home-made gift), but people always remarked positively on it so I thought, what the heck. Plus, the choice of myth enabled me to create an illustration that functioned as a sigil – it’s always interesting to look back and see how so many chance occurrences work together in the end.

  •   If there was one thing that stood out the most about being a part of UV2018, what would it be?


The highlight of UV18 for me would undoubtedly be the boost of confidence and motivation that encouraged me to continue drawing, redevelop and promote my artwork. Navigating the industry can be a rather confusing guessing game, and events like these offer opportunities to gather hints and piece together scraps of the rulebook. I’ve been playing around with ideas, exploring classic fiction and traditional tales.

  • What has been the most valuable part of UV2018 for you?


Probably my favourite outcome from the competition so far has been having someone request permission to have my work inked onto them as a tattoo. There – my work has literally scarred someone for life.



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 Jacob's website is  : jacobturner.co.uk
Instagram : @JacobTurnerArt



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Undiscovered Voices is an anthology published every other year by the British SCBWI and aims to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers. Undiscovered Voices has launched the careers of writers and illustrators, who have gone on to publish more than 200 books. These authors have been nominated for, and won, an amazing array of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and nearly 30 regional awards. Visit Undiscovered Voices for all the details and news when submissions will open for the next anthology.

You can download the Undiscovered Voices 2018 anthology here.


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