This time we get to watch Pete Olczyk in action. Pete is a freelance children's illustrator based in Inverness. He studied art foundation at Manchester Metropolitan University and then illustration at Stockport College, having illustrated for several self-publishing authors, hybrid publishers and children's magazines.

This video shows the illustration process of the poem ‘Wheels’ by the talented and kind Leslie Whitaker and published in April in Ladybug 2022. The brief was quite specific, it was for three kids of different ages cycling on a trike, a bike, and a unicycle, with their dad in the background. I used reference for the cycles and characters (the dad is very loosely based on Mo Gilligan).

I start really loose, usually quick energetic pencil sketches, then as I figure out composition, characters, storytelling and the keywords of the brief then I move on to digital, either Procreate or Photoshop. Here I work from a rough line sketch and I can play around with colours. Most of this was made in Procreate. I like the textures you can use and the speed you can work at. The tool's layers are limited so sometimes you have to use things like layer dumps and flatten your image down a lot. I started as a traditional artist like most of us, so I often work on one main layer. I find digital is handy for using new layers as a way of saving progress or as a way of experimenting.

I left school with my teachers telling me to go into art. I managed to get on the Manchester Met art foundation course, which was so big. It started to dawn on me here that I might have a learning difference. I took on commissions for greetings cards, paintings and a book, working in different mediums. Pastels and acrylics were a favourite and I loved oils but the drying time means you need space.

I studied illustration at Stockport college for a while, leaving after a year mainly for financial reasons. So I became a gardener, which gave me a creative outlet and steady cash. I became a firefighter too. It’s difficult to describe how a job like that helps you grow. Me and my wife started a little family. We have two kids and a safari of pets. A few years ago I started posting my work online. I did some online courses too. The instant feedback and generous online art community really nurtured my work. I can’t thank the kind people online (who I’ve never met) enough — I’m very grateful.

[Double click to watch it on wide screen]

*Header and video by Pete Olczyk

* See previous Featured Illustrators in our Showcase Gallery


See more of Pete Olczyk's work here. Follow him on Instagram and on Twitter.


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor for Words & Pictures. If you'd like to be featured contact her at Follow her on InstagramTwitter and find her work at

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