In search of inspiration, Caroline Deacon invites established writers and illustrators to tell us about their creative space. This month features illustrator Paul Morton.

Paul runs Hot Frog Graphics illustration and design studio. He's worked on many top brands over the years. Bug Belly is the first book written and illustrated by Paul and Babysitting Trouble is first in the series. He's illustrating the second book at the moment, Bug Belly Froggy Rescue, which is planned for publication in 2021. 

Tell us about your creative space.
I’ve always worked freelance and from home. So my studio is well established and the place I get the most work done. BUT – since starting to write, I’ve discovered the joys of settling into a comfy cafe seat and totally detaching myself from any other intrusions. (Or I did, before the pandemic). For the main thrust of artwork for picture books, for example, the drawing is more organic and free and spontaneous, and so I tend to stand at a longer table. The process of scanning and tidying needs doing back in my studio in front of the Macs of course. 

Paul in his creative space. 

Do you need particular prompts? 
To concentrate, I need silence. To deeply concentrate I’ve sometimes played Gregorian chants. But once underway and when the path to the end is clear, then I can listen to spoken books. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials are 2 favourites. 

Your creative tools – what are they?
Pencils and sketch pad. Deep rich black Polychromos pencils are my favourite. Also, ProCreate and Apple Pencil on the iPad. And always Photoshop for production. 

Paul's creative tools. 

Do you have a routine?
No kids, so time is totally my own. Work when I need to. Mountain bike for recreation exercise and to break creative blocks. At the moment, my wife is home working and taking a corner of my studio, which is strangely enjoyable. 

What is the best creative advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself. Try and enjoy what you’re doing. Embrace mistakes. Find the YOU that makes your art so special. 
Paul's Morton's illustration and writing. 

What advice would you like to give to illustrators who are trying to get established? 
Do lots of looking, lots of drawing. Be inquisitive and always super aware of everything. 

What was your favourite book as a child? 
Stig of the Dump

Book cover of Stig of the Dump.

Favourite ‘how to write’ book?
Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul. So, so practical. 

Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books.

Do you have a word or image you are dying to use in a story, but haven’t yet found room for? 
My editor always spots when I’ve ‘crowbarred’ a word or a scene into a story for no other good reason than I’ve been saving it for such occasions. 

Why children? 
I still feel, think, and often act, childlike. One of my favourite sayings is the cute, “don't grow up, it’s a trap!”

* Images credited to Paul Morton

Paul Morton runs Hot Frog Graphics illustration and design studio and is the author of Bug Belly – Babysitting Trouble. His second book Bug Bully – Froggy Rescue will be published in 2021.  

You can find Paul on the following platforms: 

Caroline Deacon lives in Edinburgh and is the author of several childcare books. She now writes MG and YA and is agented by Lindsay Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, Edinburgh. Find her on Twitter @writingdilemmas and at

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