Interview with Axel Scheffler
Who or what inspired you to be an illustrator?
I have always liked to draw since childhood. When I came to England I went to Bath Academy of Art to study illustration, which gave me the idea that I could make a living out of it.
After leaving the Bath Academy of Art, what was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
Initially, I illustrated for a selection of different English and German magazines and newspapers, then Faber commissioned me to illustrate the books The Piemakers by Helen Cresswell and The Bottle Rabbit by Bernard McCabe.
You often illustrate Julia Donaldson’s stories, for which you have both won many awards. The Gruffalo has become a modern classic. How and where did this partnership begin?
Julia wrote a book called A Squash and a Squeeze in 1992, which was the beginning of our collaboration. She sent the text to her publisher, and a friend of mine, who was working there at the time, recommended me to illustrate it. Julia and I met at the launch party afterwards and have stayed good friends ever since.
How long did it take you to illustrate Tiddler?
Actually, it took me longer than I expected it to, about five or six months.
Do you and Julia sit down and talk about how she imagines the illustrations will look or does she just leave it to you?
We never really meet to discuss anything. Julia will write a book and send it to her editor, who then passes it to me to illustrate. Julia sees my sketches and makes comments, but we don’t usually interfere with each other’s work, so it’s fine!
When you’re not drawing, how do you like to relax?
I enjoy reading, walking and listening to music.