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Interview with children’s book illustrator John Shelley – Japanese influence

Meet illustrator John Shelley and learn about his experience drawing for children’s books and advertising both in the UK, USA and Japan and learn how his love of Japanese culture and art has inspired his work.

John Shelley studied at Bournville School of Art, in the UK, amidst the aroma of chocolate from the nearby Cadbury’s works, then in Manchester under Tony Ross, before debuting as a children’s book illustrator in London. A fascination with Japanese art then took him to Tokyo, where he lived for many years, seeking the connection between Ukiyo-e and Ultraman.

In Japan, John illustrated for a wide variety of clients from advertising to editorial, and children’s books for publishers in East and West.

He now divided his time between Japan and the UK, writing, drawing, and annoying his cat.

John talks about his career as an illustrator, his influences and the lure of Japan which has influenced his style in a way that Japanese art has been influencing British art for a couple of hundred years, The influence then returning to Japan in a regular cycle. Being island nations, the British and the Japanese actually have quite a lot in common and hold a mutual fascination for each others cultures and arts.

John is on instagram @studionibs and Twitter @studioNIB

In this video:
00:00 introduction
00:36 Background and training
02:03 The lure of Japan
06:03 making posters in Japan
11:29 self promotion
13:02 Manga and Anime
17:53 Manga covers
20:44 Arthur Rackham influence
22:58 One Inch Drawings
28:00 Talking about Sketchbooks
33:00 More about one inch drawings

Drawing · How to draw animals

How to illustrate Cute Puppies

Learn how I illustrate cute little puppies. This video explains how I draw characters from different angles and shows how I paint them in watercolour.

There’s a lot of chat about illustration and technique along the way.
Base on yesterday’s drawing on my other channel

Have your dog immortalised in my new book – details here http://bit.ly/Dogs100

See the other video on DrawStuffRealEasy  make sure you subscribe when you get there!

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books · Illustration · Reading and Literacy

Did my editor like my artwork?


Did my editor like the artwork I finished for Walker – the boy who can talk to dogs?

She did, but she didn’t like the character in the image on the left. It reminded her of someone when she was young who she thought was a werewolf.

My immediate reaction was to think, “Oh yes! There the plot for book 4 in the series!”

A little though and I realised that wasn’t going to happen, so I made Mr Bonus, the Latvian village shop keeper and Walkers  business inspiration, look a little softer around the eyebrows. I think it make him look a bit like Lemmy from Motorhead!

Click the picture at the top to watch how I go about revising a piece of artwork.

I’ve since changed a few other illustrations as I noticed inconsistencies with the text as I went through the final edit with illustrations in place. Of course I should have noticed before I did the artwork!

Walker is out on the 14th of March and you can preorder the book at Amazon with the link below, so you can be the first to read it!