Illustration Inspiration: Ged Adamson, Illustrator of Bird Hugs
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The Children’s Book Review | February 4, 2019
Ged Adamson is a children’s book author and illustrator. His picture books include A Fox Found a Box; Douglas, You Need Glasses!; Shark Dog!; and Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed). He has also worked as a cartoonist, storyboard artist, and composer for film and TV. He lives in London with his partner, Helen, and son, Rex.
I make art because…
I always have done. I’ve always drawn since I can remember, and when I was a kid I used to make little comics and magazines. I also used to draw a lot of sharks, dinosaurs, and footballers (soccer players). I think it’s an outlet for something. I do this with music as well. I used to work as a composer for adverts, tv trailers, films and stuff like that, and even though I don’t do that anymore I still make up tunes all the time, I can’t help it!
To be honest I don’t see what I do as “art.” Not because it’s illustrations for children’s books, but because I see things like illustration, music, clothes, writing, etc as all part of the same thing. Creativity is probably a better word for it. It’s all about ideas and design and trying to avoid cliché.
My latest published book is…
Bird Hugs. It’s about a bird with really long wings—they’re too long to actually fly with. He watches his friends fly away one by one. But then he discovers he has a special talent.
I have a big problem with that overused statement “You can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it.” That’s not how life works and it’s being dishonest with kids if you tell them this. I think it’s far better to say “Try to be the best person you can be.” And encourage them to make the most of any talents they have. A talent can be making people laugh or being a good listener—having empathy and an awareness of the wider world. Making other people happy and making them feel good about themselves is certainly a talent. This is what Bird Hugs is all about really.
Art medium used…
Pencil and watercolor.
I draw ideas in my sketchbook and then I start painting shapes. I use watercolor and color pencils. I scan these images and then work on them on the computer. For this book, some of the animals and scenes would be scanned in complete. Others, I would have separate parts and put them together in Photoshop. So for example, I’d have the shape of an orangutan but have the lines of his face and fur separately. Working like this gives you more freedom to change things further down the line.
I am inspired by…
Lots of different things. I love wandering around looking at things. I love films and music and comedy. I’m also inspired by where I live. I live in London and I love it as much now as when I moved here from Liverpool years ago. There is so much life here and beautiful buildings and places to discover. I live in a part of London called Greenwich and from the top of my house, you can see the Royal Observatory which is a very old place that has contributed so much to science over the centuries. Also, the Meridian Line (which is the center of the world!) actually goes through my house!
My favorite place to create & illustrate is…
My workroom at my house. It’s too small to call a studio but I love it all the same. It sounds weird but one of the reasons I love it is because it looks out onto an old brick wall with a lamp post next to it. In the evening, when the light comes on, it flickers. To me, it’s a really lovely view. I have a table there with all my paints and pencils on it.
Another favorite working place is the café down the road. Actually I go to different ones. I sit with my sketchbook and work on ideas and illustrations. Like most people, I need my coffee every day!
My most used art supply or tool is…
A Faber-Castell pencil. I now use a grade B. I used to use a 4B. I lived on the edge in those days.
My all-time favorite is Ronald Searle. To me, he is the Beatles of modern illustration. You can see his influence everywhere. I grew up seeing his art in books, magazines and in films. I especially love his 50s and 60s work.
Milton Glaser is another hero. His images and designs are so beautiful and every part is there for a reason. I’m always attracted to illustration that has a design element to it. Posters and advertising art are much more exciting to me than, say, detailed, realistic paintings.
Beatrice Alemagna is a children’s author and illustrator whose work is incredible. She’s an influence on all picture book people I think.
All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…
Panda-monium at Peek Zoo by Kevin Waldron
A literary character to create art with…
Not a literary character as such but a literary figure: Samuel Pepys. He’s another hero of mine and I’d love to do an illustrated version of his diary.
Currently working on…
A book about an imaginary dog for HarperCollins. Also working on a new story idea about an elephant.
Written and Illustrated by Ged Adamson
Bernard isn’t like other birds. His wings are impossibly long, and try as he might, he just can’t seem to fly. He’s left wondering what his wings are good for…if they’re even good for anything at all. But a chance encounter with a dejected orangutan leads Bernard to a surprising discovery: that maybe what makes him different is actually something to be embraced.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Two Lions | February 1, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1542092715
Enter for a chance to win a copy of Bird Hugs, written and illustrated by Ged Adamson!
One (1) lucky winner receives:
- A copy of Bird Hugs
Giveaway begins February 4, 2020, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends March 4, 2020, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
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Discover more illustration inspiration and books like Bird Hugs, written and illustrated by Ged Adamson, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with Birds, Ged Adamson, Picture Book, and Self-acceptance.
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