Like myself, Danny Deeptown was obsessed with wildlife from a young age, often spending his time seeking out new adventures in nature. Danny found his love of drawing through hours of copying scientific illustrations from books about animals and dinosaurs.
But what Danny doesn’t know is that his writing buddie, aka me, often did the same! As a child I spent many an hour sketching animals in my quiet time and although I rarely find time to pick up a pencil these days, I think our joint love of nature and mindful activities is what has made our illustrator/writer partnership so strong.
Realising that we have a lot in common, I was keen to get to know Danny even better and so I asked him a few questions about himself!
I know you particularly love to draw animals Danny, what is your favourite animal to
draw and why?
Tough question. I would have to say a tiger. A Siberian Tiger if I’m allowed to be specific. I’ve been obsessed with tigers since I was little. They’re just beautiful. A dream of mine is to see and draw a tiger in the wild, but the odds of that happening are unfortunately slim due to their decline in numbers and isolation in small areas away from people.
Dare I tell you Danny, that I have actually seen tigers in the wild, in India? It was truly a wondrous moment and I hope you get to realise your dream very soon.
I am sure you thought that I was pretty crazy when I first approached you with the
idea of drawing a whole book full of sheep. What is the most bizarre thing you have
ever been asked to draw by someone (besides lots and lots of sheep!)?
Ha! With a book titled ‘Counting Sheep’ I had a pretty good idea it wasn’t going to be based on just one sheep. I dunno, those sheep do get up to some crazy things! However, my son did ask me to draw a digger with shoes on the other day. I tried to decline the job but was forced into doing it by his tears. I did it. It was rubbish.
It sounds like your son has a great imagination. There is a children’s book in that idea for sure!
When you are not drawing for writers like me, what do you like to draw for yourself
in your free time? Do you have other hobbies too?
I like to go on long walks, preferably amongst forests and alongside rivers and usually have a sketchbook with me. When I find a nice spot where the scenery is inspiring I’ll get the inks and watercolours out and see where it takes me. It’s a great way to practice. I find if the drawing is not for anything or anyone in particular, then I take more risks and make mistakes that a lot of the time tend to make for a more interesting image. Other hobbies include listening to music/ going to gigs – I’m a big fan of 60’s garage rock, folk rock and blues music. I’m in to my sports too, especially football.
Living in the English countryside sounds pretty inspiring. Does it influence your
work? If you could work anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Definitely. I tend to use a lot of natural colours in my work and there’s no doubt a large variety of contrasting colours can be found in the unpredictability of British weather. I’d love to work in many parts of the world. Freelancing whilst travelling through Africa would be at the top of the list.
I know illustrating ‘Counting Sheep’ was pretty great (ha, ha) but what would be your
ultimate dream project?
It was pretty great. However, drawing that many sheep did keep me awake at night. Bit ironic that, right?! My dream job… if David Attenborough wrote a book and wanted me to illustrate it, or, even better, needed an artist to accompany him to visually document his/our travels together. I know, I’m a dreamer.
Dreaming is what made our book come to life Danny – never stop dreaming!
What is the most useful piece of advice you could give to a budding artist out there?
It can be really tough starting out as an artist, it was for me anyway. But if you create art that gives you a buzz feeling, then there’s a chance others will experience it too.
That’s great advice!
What is your all-time favourite children’s book you didn’t illustrate and why do you
love it so much?
This is a tough question as I could give you a whole list!
If I was to narrow it down….
‘The Enormous Crocodile’, written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. I
was fascinated by this book as a kid. The croc was frightening yet humorous and
loved how this came across in Blakes illustrations. This was the first book
Dahl and Blake worked on together and as most know was the start of a magical
partnership in children’s literature.
‘The Giving Tree’, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstine. Even though first published in 1964, it’s definitely more relevant today than ever before. So much truth in this story that’s sensitively written for both children and adults to understand.
‘The Gruffalo’, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. I just love the trickery of the tale, the way the words dance of the tongue and characterful illustrations.
You’ve mentioned some real treasures there!
Would you ever like to write your own children’s book as well as illustrate them?
What would it be about?
Oh, yes! Watch out…..oh, and that would be telling.
O wow! That would be amazing! You heard it first here folks!
For more information about the wild and wonderful world of Danny Deeptown, please visit his website https://dannydeeptown.com
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