For Jarvis, every book he creates has its own personality. We take a peek into his colourful world. 

Q. Do you feel your artistic style has been influenced by a particular illustrator? If so, can you tell us how this person inspired or influenced your work?  

A. This may sound odd but I don’t really see myself as an illustrator, I see myself as a children’s book maker. It’s the words and the pictures and the sort of chemistry that happens when they come together that I like. I wouldn’t really be happy drawing pictures all day, or just writing. It’s better when it’s both. And they’re both quite different. So in terms of influences, I’m influenced by people who dabble with different things, whose creative output is eclectic. Someone like David Hockney or The Beatles.    

Q. How would you describe your own style of illustration? Do you have a preferred medium?  

A. For each book I need a few months to get to know it first. It’s a time when I’m playing about and experimenting with different mediums and ways of telling a story. Sometimes the first thing you do is perfect, but actually with me, it tends to be the first thing I do is terrible! So I need time to get to know the project, and live with what I’ve done for a bit, then redo it in different ways. Each book I make has its own personality and its own world. I don’t really like to repeat myself. So I would describe my illustration as - whatever works! In my new book ‘Thank you’ I use a lot of collage, previously I’ve used a lot of pencil, or recently I’ve used the iPad. It tends to change depending on what I feel the book needs to be.    

Q. What comes first the images or the words?  

A. Book ideas come in different ways. There isn’t one set way of doing it. Sometimes it can start with an image. Sometimes a phrase. Sometimes the entire idea arrives in your head just as you’ve gone to bed. And lately some of my book ideas have started off as songs. I like to write songs as a hobby. Songs can be similar to children’s books- they have a simple understandable message, a repeatable chorus, the good ones are memorable, and they’re something you want to hear again and again. So recently the words have tended to arrive first as a song and that’s where my new book ‘Thank You’ began.    

Q. Perhaps an impossible question, but which of your books are you most proud of?  

A. It’s very difficult to choose! I think I’m probably most proud of my book series ‘Bear and Bird’. Each one has 4 stories and there’s going to be 6 books. So it’s a lot of stories! I’m quite proud that I have been able to write so many, and because I know the characters very well at this point, it feels very natural and enjoyable to write for them.  

Q. And which book was the most challenging?  

A. Oof! I honestly find all books challenging. It’s funny when you look back on 16 spreads and wonder how it took you nearly a year to do it, but sometimes telling a story with images in the best way you can is a real challenge. If I had to pick one I would say a book that’s coming out later this year was a big challenge for me. It’s called Mr Santa and there were numerous challenges throughout but the main one was illustrating Santa. A character everyone knows, who has been illustrated many, many times. To find my version of Santa took me a long, long time!    

Q. What are you working on at the moment?  

A. I’m illustrating the next Bear and Bird book, and I’m making a book that is set at the seaside. Both are projects that I’m very close to. Bear and Bird stories are often based on something from my life, and the seaside book is a nostalgic book about the place I grew up in North Wales.

Jarvis studied graphic design and previously worked as both a record sleeve designer and an animation director before becoming a children's bookmaker. He is the author-illustrator of The Boy with Flowers in His Hair for which he won the Oscar's Book Prize and Alan's Big Scary Teeth, the V&A Best Illustrated Book 2017.

Thank You, his most recent picture book creation, has been chosen as a LR4K March Pick of the Month by both Julia Eccleshare and our Guest Editor, Mariajo Ilustrajo, who wrote "Such a simple concept illustrated so warmly and beautifully. I liked his work before, but this book is beyond beautiful. You can feel the playfulness and joy of creating art on every page."

Find a selection of books by Jarvis below.