Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Illustrators' rooms / Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne's studio.
Photograph by Eamonn McCabe

Writers' rooms: Anthoy Browne

Illustrators' rooms: Anthony Browne

Saturday 13 June 2009 00.01 BST

This is my wonderfully light-filled studio, the conservatory at the back of my house in Kent. It's where I do all my illustration work - the words can come to me anywhere. I work fairly normal office hours, starting at 9.30am and usually finishing late afternoon/early evening. Although I have two good Anglepoise lights, I much prefer to work by daylight.

The painted papier mâché Frida Kahlo was made by my daughter, Ellen, and the portrait of me was made by Ellen and my son Joe to celebrate my 50th birthday. They, like me, have been influenced by the colours and images of Mexico. The Willy acrobat on the window-sill was given to me by a young fan in Colombia. The stuffed toy of Willy with a hand-knitted sweater was made by an old, beautiful Indian woman also in Bogotá. The calendar with the image of a rose was painted by my girlfriend, Hanne, a children's illustrator who lives in wonderful Copenhagen, and the cushion with the chimpanzee's face is from an exhibition of my work in Venezuela.

Most of the day I work standing up, as I once read somewhere that it's the best position for the back. The laptop I use mostly to play music as I work - an eclectic mixture of jazz, classical and pop. I'm impressed by the way some illustrators develop their images on computers, but it's too late for me to start and I'm still in love with paper and paint and pencils.

The artwork on the desk is from my next book, Me and You, a reworking of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I always thought that Goldilocks got a rough deal in the original and I'm trying to redress the balance. How do we know that she was a greedy, selfish little girl? Perhaps there was a reason for her to enter the bears' house? I'm trying to tell the story from two different points of view: the baby bear's story shown in warm, reassuring coloured pencils, and Goldilock's harsher existence painted like a graphic novel, in sepia tones.

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