I've Drawn Inspiration for Tracy and Pals from My New Life in Edinburgh; WHY NICK SHARRATT KIDS' BOOKS ILLUSTRATOR MOVED TO SCOTLAND
Byline: EXCLUSIVE AMANDA KEENAN firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN world-renowned children's illustrator Nick Sharratt took a career break to travel the world, he never imagined a chance visit to Edinburgh would inspire his latest work.
The 51-year-old admits he only planned a short visit to the capital but was so captivated by its history and scenery that he decided to move there permanently.
Nick, whose creative flair has helped to bring to life more than 200 books, including the popular Tracy Beaker series, said: "Being in Scotland has helped create a whole host of new ideas for my books.
"I've already started writing and it's a very inspiring place to be. I love the hustle and bustle of the city and there's always so much to draw. I could fill a sketch book with fascinating things I see every day. I'm having the best time of my life."
After turning 50 last year, Nick decided to take a gamble and leave his Brighton home for a new start.
He said: "I didn't really know anyone but I felt Edinburgh was a great place to live and it's a gamble that's paid off.
"I'm settled here now and have no plans to relocate, so you'll see a lot of Scottish influence in my next project. I've already started working on a new book and I'm very excited about it, although I don't want to say too much until it's finished."
Growing up, Nick always dreamed of becoming a successful artist and after studying graphic design at art school, his talents were quickly spotted. He was selected to illustrate more than 40 books by awardwinning author Jacqueline Wilson, among them her 1991 breakthrough title The Story Of Tracy Beaker and later the The Lottie Project and Little Darlings.
Her books have sold in excess of 30 million copies in the UK and sales of picture books illustrated by Nick are well over nine million.
His work is also now exhibited in Britain, Italy, Japan and America.
He said: "I liked to draw from an early age. When I was nine, a picture that I'd drawn at school was pinned up in the hall and the husband of one of the teachers saw it. He offered me a fiver to do a similar picture for him. That's when I decided I would be a professional artist one day.
"I nearly always drew in felt tip pens and I liked big crowd scenes. I'd start in the bottom left-hand corner of the paper and just let the picture grow, telling myself stories about each of the characters in turn as I drew them. My enco parents were very encouraging and our house was filled with my artwork. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself and, after art school, I started getting to know publishers who would recommend me to authors looking for a book illustrator."
But a chance meeting with Jacqueline Wilson helped propel Nick's incredible 30-year career.
He said: "She was working on a book called Tracy Beaker and as soon as she told me about it, I knew exactly how I wanted Tracy to look.
"I showed her a few drawings and she loved them. She said it was exactly how the character should be.
"I started drawing more pictures and she liked them so much that we worked on the entire series together.
"It was a great experience and helped to get my name known in the publishing world.
"From then on, every time Jacqueline was working on another book she would always ask me to be involved.
"I think out of every drawing I've ever done, I'm most proud of Tracy Beaker. She helped to h kick-start my career and the books were a phenomenal success, while they went on to become a hit BBC television series, too. …