Helen Craig

Helen Craig

Bio

Helen Craig has illustrated more than sixty books for children, including the Angelina Ballerina books. She lives in England.

Helen Craig

Helen Craig

Books

Q&A

PLACE & DATE OF BIRTH:
London – 30.8.34

FAVOURITE BOOK:
Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Maurice Sendak

FAVOURITE SONG:
‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’

MOST TREASURED POSSESSION:
‘A crystal pendant that belonged to my great grandmother’

FAVOURITE FILM:
The Wrong Trousers

When did you start illustrating?Although I loved drawing when I was a little girl and always wanted to be an artist of some sort – I was 40 years old before I had the courage to try and illustrate a children’s book. It takes a long time to produce a book and an even longer time before you start earning enough to live on. I had to work at another job to support myself and my young son and so I did my illustrating in the evenings and at the weekends. After a few years when I had enough books in print I was finally able to give up the job and work on illustration only.

Where do you get your ideas?I don’t really know! When I read a story I always get pictures in my mind but they are quite vague. They are probably based on all the things I have seen in my life and are stored as memories. The illustrations for the Angelina stories are based on my childhood memories when I lived in the country with no electricity – just oil lamps and candles to light us to bed! But once I start drawing, the picture becomes pure invention and takes on its own life according to the needs of the story.

Can you give your top 3 tips to becoming a successful illustrator?1) Don’t get hung up on success – you can’t control it, just do the work because you love doing it.
2) Never stop working at your drawing skills and never give up, even if one of your books is not so successful – keep on trying.
3) Don’t be too lazy or proud to re-do something if you know it is wrong – there’s nothing worse than knowing a wrong image is out there in hundreds of books!

Favourite memory?
Giving birth to my son – watching and holding him in the first days of his life.

Favourite place in the world and why?
In the quiet of my studio in the garden with the birds singing outside – when the drawing is going well!

What are your hobbies?
I don’t have much time for hobbies as I am drawing most of the time and drawing would be my hobby if I wasn’t doing it professionally. However I love reading and I enjoy relaxing by watching TV – all sorts of programmes and I do eventually want to find the time to do more sculpture and etching.

If you hadn’t been an illustrator, what do you think you would have been?
A musician – or maybe a racing driver!

Series

Penguin Hotline