Lo Cole's illustrations would brighten the most grey of days. How does he create such stunning images, and what (or who) have been the greatest influences to his art? Lo tells all.

I trained as a printmaker and specialised in screen printing; I fell in love with the flat colours and the velvet-like quality of saturated ink on paper. Although I no longer make prints in this way, I still approach image-making as a printmaker, applying a similar process to my work. These days, I work in Photoshop and although I miss the physicality of screen printing, working digitally is a lot less messy and doesn’t require so much space. I probably only use one percent of the programme, yet I find that it does all the things and more, that I demand from it. I have a very large Wacom tablet which I draw into - the size enables me to work more gesturally, drawing with my arm as well as my hand. I tend to work straight into Photoshop, usually creating a layer, drawing a shape and filling it with colour. In much the same way that I would approach making a screen print, I will build the image in a series of layers, one colour on top of another; sometimes opaque and other times transparent. I love the surprise element - what happens when you overlap colours and a third colour is created and I think you can see this in my book Doris. I still make prints, but now I print on demand and that saves a lot of plan chest space, as I don’t have to fill the draws with the wads of paper needed for entire limited editions.

When it comes to creating books, for me the story always starts with an image (or a set of images) as I am primarily a picture-maker. The writing is a more recent development, I find it gives me the freedom to illustrate my own ideas in both words and pictures. I set myself the challenge of finding a story to work with the images I want to draw, and that’s the starting point. As the idea develops, the tables turn and I find myself wondering how I can depict the words that start to appear - it’s a backwards, forwards process, one that I find immensely challenging, but also hugely satisfying when it comes together and everything clicks into place.

My parents were no doubt a major influence, my father was a writer of children’s books and worked for the BBC producing Playschool. He created numerous series for preschool audiences, including cult children’s TV shows Bod and Fingerbobs. My mother illustrated the books and created the puppets and she was also a wonderful artist in her own right. So, I came from a very creative environment, surrounded by all the paraphernalia that went into making books and tv programmes. We lived in central London in the 60’s and 70’s and I remember being seduced by the colours of Sergeant Pepper, pop-art and psychedelia - these still influence my work. The cover of Doris even reminds me of the ridiculously bright flowery shirt I selected for myself as a young kid in Carnaby Street.

I was also dragged round galleries, museums and countless churches. Although reluctant at the time, something filtered through and in later years I developed a love for work by Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Miro, Leger - masters of 20th century modern art - renaissance frescoes and romanesque churches. I developed a love for all things graphic and would pore over old editions of Graphis magazine, lapping up the work of Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser … not to mention Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy, who I grew up with and still think is rather fantastic!

Doris is a glorious picture book, published by new imprint, Rocket Bird Books. Each page is an exuberant display of colours and design, and the accompanying text is as uplifting and joyous as the artwork.

Doris, written and illustrated by Lo Cole, is our August Picture Book of the Month - read our full review here and browse the pages.

And we have added a few more of Lo's books below.