This month's featured illustrator is Suffolk based Sally Walker, an MA graduate of the Children's Illustration course at Anglia Ruskin, printmaker and busy picture book creator
See more of her work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.


Growing up I don’t particularly remember drawing all of the time, but I was a creative child and had many hobbies that were craft-based (many hours were spent making pom-poms!). And I did love books. I have a vivid memory of choosing The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the library at junior school. Whenever I found a book that I loved I would read it repeatedly which explains my very dog-eared copy of Raymond Brigg’s Father Christmas

Father Christmas
by Raymond Briggs

To be honest, as much as I enjoyed art at school I only really took the option to study it at A' Level as a sort of hobby alongside my business studies course.

I don’t think I’d realised that art could be a career at that point, but that decision ended up shaping my career as I left business studies behind and went on to study visual communications at university. There, I studied a term of illustration but went on to specialise in time based media. And from that I went on to have a career as a graphic and motion designer (which I still do today).

In 2006 I took a year out for a working holiday in Australia and was lucky enough to get a job as a graphic designer for a small gifts company. I got to work alongside an illustrator in residence, who was illustrating characters and patterns for products and it blew my mind. It was at that point that I really began my illustration journey. Once I came back to the UK I started taking various evening courses in illustration and along the way heard about the MA in Children’s Book Illustration course at Cambridge School of Art.

It was during my maternity leave with my first child that I plucked up the courage to apply.

It’s fair to say I was more than rusty despite taking the evening classes; my illustrations were over-stylised, and looking back just not very good. The course was fantastic, although hard work balancing a small child and my job as a designer for an e-learning company. But so refreshing. It got me away from the computer screen and back to drawing from observation which I hadn’t done since college. And it re-introduced me to the print room, where I tried new techniques such as collagraph, Riso-graph, mono-printing, wood block and screen printing. I fell in love with the physical craft of print making, the textures you could produce and the happy accidents that happened in the process.


Observational drawing

Collagraph created during my MA

It was also during my time there that my knowledge of children’s book illustrators really expanded, and I began to discover illustrators from all over the world. I have particularly fallen in love with Kaatje VermeireIsabelle Arsenault, Jim Kay, Améile Fléchais, Joohee Yoon to name but a few.

After I graduated I joined SCBWI and started building a portfolio and entering competitions. I got shortlisted a couple of times and won a silver award in the CCBF Golden Pinwheels competition and a place in the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices 2018 annual.

SCBWI Undiscovered Voice entry

 It was also around this time that I started regularly taking part in social media prompts which in turn helped me become active on Twitter and Instagram. Which is where my agent Jen Rofé (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) saw my work and approached me.

It took a little while until I got my first picture book contract, so I carried on building my portfolio, attending workshops and entering competitions. In 2019 I was a prizewinnner in the Picture This! Competition, won a bronze award in the Templar Illustration Prize, and more recently the SCBWI Don Freeman work-in-progress grant.

My work in the PictureThis! Exhibition

My debut picture book (as an illustrator) Chase the Moon, Tiny Turtle was published by Page Street Kids in March 2021. I’ve also just finished a picture book for PJ Publishing of PJ Library and I’m working on a book for Penguin Random House which is due to be published Summer 2022.


Chase the Moon, Tiny Turtle
Published by Page Street Kids, written by Kelly Jordan

Illustration from Until the Blueberries Grow published by PJ Publishing of PJ Library

My process for making pictures is always evolving, but usually incorporates both digital and traditional art techniques. After I finished my MA I tried various ways of printmaking at home. Creating textures using Gelli plates, monoprints with a wooden spoon, foam stamps, wallpaper samples, stencils and I also make use of everyday items such as old toothbrushes and wooden skewers to create interesting marks. These are combined with pencil or ink for lines and shadows, and then everything is brought together digitally where I layer, compose and colour the final illustration. I’ve always loved trying out new things and working this way has given me the flexibility to do so but still keep my work distinct and playful.

Prints made from foam stamps



My top tips are:

Utilise any spare time. Making art can be difficult when you have limited time, but making the most of ten minutes here and there (even if it’s just preparing materials) adds up. I also find it can help cut down on procrastination.

Stay curious and keep learning: attend workshops, online tutorials, listen to podcast, etc etc… but also take time to experiment.

Use cheap materials. It's tempting to spend a small fortune on art materials but some of my favourite tools have been the cheapest. I often raid my children’s art supplies and mainly use recycled copier paper.

Participate in social media prompts (I like #colour_collective and #portraitchallenge on Twitter), this can help build your portfolio and give you exposure as well as being part of a creative community.

And make the most of what SCBWI has to offer, there are many opportunities both regionally and internationally.


See more of Sally's work in the Featured Illustrator Gallery.
Her personal website is here

Find Sally on Instagram and Twitter

She's represented by Jen Rofé at Andrea Brown

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