This month's Featured Illustrator is Seán CaseyHe is an illustrator based in Glasgow with a degree in Classical Animation and Drawing Studies. He also just received a Margaret Carey scholarship with SCBWI to attend the upcoming Manchester Conference.

I grew up on a tiny Gaelic-speaking island off the west coast of Galway in Ireland (think Father Teds Craggy Island, and you're pretty much there) I come from a long line of fishermen and boat builders. Early on, everyone noticed that little Seán was bad at fishing but decent at drawing.

SCBWI Artober prompts Mystery”, "Smoke" & "Fur"

While the other kids on the island played football on long summer days, I was busy playing with dolls and creating my little stories. So, you can probably guess that attending a very Catholic 80s high school was going to be a tough time for me. Not least because I struggled to keep up, especially in mathematics (more on that later). Like most teenage boys my age, I absolutely reeked of Lynx Africa, but I have another odour I just couldn’t hide - Eau De Homosexual! The bullying was intense, every day felt like hell. I couldnt wait to escape. No matter what happened, I always knew I could rely on my hands - my drawings. I just knew it was going to be my ticket out of there.

The Wind and Willows LGBT+ 

I moved across the country to attend college in Dublin to pursue Classical Animation and Drawing Studies. Creating characters and stories had always made me happy. Suddenly, at the age of 18, I finally found fellow geeks who shared the same passions. We literally lived animation and breathed comics together. College was also a distracting time as I battled with some darker demons. Picture a movie scene where a young and desperately bald Hugh Grant plays me. I finally "came out" as openly gay in a dramatic fashion to my classmates while standing in the pouring rain. 

After all that, I imagined things would become easier, but still I found it challenging to concentrate, just like high school all over again. I would easily get confused and forget what I was meant to be doing, especially in technically challenging classes like computer animation. I was often behind my classmates, and I felt so stupid. Where was the pesky puzzle piece that was stopping me picking up Photoshop like everyone else?

Alice and Cheshire cat

Somehow, I managed to get my diploma, and it was time to say goodbye to Dublin. I moved to Edinburgh, where I spent the next 14 years. I taught myself to use the Adobe programs in my own wayusing YouTube tutorials where I could pause and watch parts back until they sunk in. This is when I discovered picture books. I didn't grow up with these types of books. A traveling salesman from the mainland had sold my mom some illustrated Childcraft encyclopedias, and that's what I drew from as a kid. I couldn't believe this new, and incredibly succinct, way of telling stories in so few pages. I was hooked and gobbled up everything related to picture books.

Working away

This is also when I started my "other career" as a Creative Practitioner. My mother always wanted me to be a teacher for 'stability' like my sisters (sorry Mom!) I could be in a school one morning, showing kids how to make zines using their favourite characters. In the afternoon, I could be working in a community centre with people suffering from dementia, helping them express their memories through painting. I also began to volunteer as a Youth Worker with LGBT Youth Scotland, working primarily with trans and non-binary young people. This inadvertently really helped me focus on the type of stories and picture books I wanted to create.

A story Ive been writing

Edinburgh was captivating, but I felt my creativity stagnate for a long time. Then, 2.5 years ago, I moved with my partner Piotr and our cat, Miss Business, just down the road to Glasgow. I had always worked from the spare room or the kitchen table, but now I moved into the most incredible studio, and immediately, Glasgow felt more like the creative community I missed from Dublin.

Some amazing studio mates built me a mezzanine so I could work above my friend's existing space!

Now between sharing a studio and working for the Culture Collective, a national arts program, I realised the power of connecting with other creatives and all the cool opportunities to collaborate that come from that.

As if by chance, very recently I came to hear about a subgroup of ADHD, not the hyperactive kind we often hear about, but one called Inattentive ADHD (formerly known as ADD). That missing puzzle piece hit me like a flying football to the face (ouch, Jan!) It's often linked to those who show signs of Dyscalculia (similar to Dyslexia but for numbers). Thanks to a chance conversation at the age of 42, my life finally started to make sense.

Since starting the process of getting diagnosed, everything has changed for me. I have been a part of many cool commissions and opportunities, including The Coming Out cover for Somewhere for Us Magazine.

The Coming Out cover for Somewhere for Us Magazine

I even received a Margaret Carey scholarship with SCBWI to attend the upcoming Manchester Conference. Im still pinching myself everyday since!

Like most of us, I have faced so many rejections on my path to publishing. Connecting with the Scottish SCBWI community has been super supportive and has helped me focus on the next stage of my career - writing.

Growing up the way I did, I know the importance of the stories I never had. Id love to create them for all those lost little Seans out there. I want them to know its going to be okay and that being different is okay!

The Truce Picnic Gallery 

Nen and the Lonely Fishermen fan art 

Santa's day off 

The Snowman fan art 

Scuff Lost (a new story I’m working on)

*All images: Seán Casey


See Seán's Portfolio

Follow Seán on Instagram


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures
Find their work at fourfooteleven.com 
Follow them on Instagram and Twitter
Contact them at illustrators@britishscbwi.org



  1. Great work Sean, and very jealous of your mezzanine studio!


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