The Long and Short of it
The Shorter Story
Deborah Allwright is a best-selling illustrator of numerous popular picture books.
After studying art and design in London she stepped straight into a busy life of advertising work, package design, editorial and card design before being approached to develop a picture book with the publisher Templar. She has to date illustrated over 50 books for many celebrated authors which amount to co-editions in over 25 languages.
The Night Pirates written by Peter Harris is probably Deborah's best-known picture book. It was shortlisted for the V&A award, has been translated into many languages including Hebrew and Gaelic and also toured in stage productions.
Another more recent success, There Is No Dragon In This Story, written by Lou Carter and published by Bloomsbury, is part of a continuing series, which has been translated in 25 languages worldwide.
Her other publishers include Alison Green Books, Farshore ( formerly Egmont ) Macmillan, Nosy Crow, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Templar and Walker Books.
Deborah lives in London with her partner, their noisy cat and a chirpy, bird-filled garden mostly ruled by squirrels.
The Longer Story
"How long does a book take to illustrate?" people often ask. Hours and days and weeks of sketching, character development, shuffling and ultimately painting ...
My fascination with drawing and story-making began the moment I could hold a pen. It involved long things from the beginning. In the early days, there was no proper desk or table, only an old ironing board to draw on, and I was only given long thin strips of paper, so my first love was drawing long thin animals such as giraffes, snakes and crocodiles.
I then began to make my own comics based on classics such as The Beano and Topper. I created puzzles and advertising for made-up products and even a letters page. You could become a member of my comic club and get a badge and I got my mum and dad had to wear them too.
I was still young when my family moved to Germany via France and was given French copies of the Asterix books. Without understanding the language, I made up the stories by 'reading' the illustrations. Observing the characters body language and expressions probably started my visual deciphering and taught me valuable skills early on.
When I eventually went to art school back in north London, my portfolio included every type of media from photography, silk screen and painting all of which influenced my illustration.
I left college and promptly got myself not one, but two agents! One for advertising work and the other for everything else. Soon I was very busy with work in advertising, packaging, card design and some editorial illustration before being approached by a publisher for a picture book. It was a turning point.
I worked directly with the writer and art director at Templar publishing on Grunter, The Story Of A Pig with Attitude! which was enormous fun. I learned so much about the book-making process in this my first picture book. The pacing and spacing of this story even included a pop-up spread, making it a dream book to create, so I was thrilled to be asked to work on the next and the next title ...
Every book is a new adventure and I try to bring something different to the visual storytelling. Working in acrylic, inks and collage was my preferred method for books like The Night Pirates where I'd spend hours building up textures by paint- rollering, stencilling and sticking of layered papers. But later I embraced working on my computer screen and now the long hours are working digitally.
Happily this has all led to a giraffe-high pile of published books and working with many inspiring and amazing authors. The stories just keep coming...
Published Picture Books
The Thunk – Michelle Robinson 2023
Every Bunny is a Yoga Bunny – Emily Ann Davison 2022
There is No Big Bad Wolf in this Story – Lou Carter 2021
She Rex – Michelle Robinson 2020
You're not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green – Ruth Quayle 2019
Princess Swashbuckle – Holly Hughes 2018
There is No Dragon in This Story – Lou Carter 2017
Hooray for Knickers – Jill Lewis 2016
The Witch with an Itch: Dragon v Dinosaur – Helen Baugh 2015
Doctor Molly's Medicine Case – Miriam Moss 2015
There's a Monster In My Fridge – Caryl Hart 2015
The Witch with an Itch – Helen Baugh 2014
Mrs Vickers' Knickers – Kara Lebihan 2013
A Patch of Black – Rachel Rooney 2012
Pinkie Mouse, Where are you? – Alison Green 2011
Martha, No! – Edward Hardy 2010
Dinosaur Sleepover – Pamela Duncan Edwards 2010
Don't Read This Book! – Jill Lewis 2009
The Fox in the Dark – Alison Green 2009
Peculiar Pets – Victoria Roberts 2009
Cat-A-Wall – Sally Grindley 2009
Dinosaur starts School – Pamela Duncan Edwards 2008
Go to sleep little baby – Fiona Watts 2008
Hello, is this grandma? – Ian Whybrow 2007
Caterpillar Count – Claire Friedman / Keith Faulkner 2006
Ronnie's treasure hunt – Pippa Goodhart 2007
She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain – Jonathan Emmett 2006
The Night Pirates – Peter Harris 2005
The best Den Ever – Anne Cassidy 2005
Where are my shoes? – Karen Wallace 2004
Perfect Prudence – Peter Harris 2003
Sinclair, Wonder Bear – Malorie Blackman 2003
Goodbye, Amelia Jane – Enid Blyton 2003
Amelia Jane Has a Clever Idea – Enid Blyton 2003
Amelia Jane Goes Up a Tree – Enid Blyton 2003
Mary and the Fairy – Penny Dolan 2002
Now then Amelia Jane – Enid Blyton 2002
Amelia Jane is Naughty again – Enid Blyton 2002
Amelia Jane gets into trouble – Enid Blyton 2001
Amelia Jane, Again! – Enid Blyton 2001
Naughty Amelia Jane – Enid Blyton 2001
Good Idea, Amelia Jane – Enid Blyton 2001
Baa Humbug, The Story of a Sheep with a Mind of His Own! – Mike Jolley 2001
Grunter, The Story of a Pig With Attitude! – Mike Jolley 1999