An Unexpected Life in Books

It would have been hard to believe when I started out but I now have had more than a thousand images published in over 60 books. This has varied from a single black and white illustration to creating the whole book myself. The latter was Celtic Dreams back in 1998. I did all the type setting, page layout and design for it. Teaching myself what I needed to know as I went along, I was not really prepared for this unexpected life.

There is a list of books covering every book I have been involved in, with a very brief description of the type of content I contributed.

First Commissions

My first commission to produce art for a book came in mid 1994, shortly after my first set of cards being published. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. My phone call to Element Books, asking if they wanted to use my artwork, coincided with their producing ‘The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Wisdom’ by Caitlin and John Matthews. They liked what they saw of my work. I got the job.

This then led to a contact at Blandford Press, editor Stuart Booth, who oversaw my early major book projects. Key to those early books were “Celtic Dreams,” “Celtic Bards, “Celtic Druids” and “Heroes of the Round Table.” My work and style has moved on since these three books but they were important stepping stones in my development.

Figurative Work

Most of the books have required me to do pieces that were more figurative than work I had been doing previously. The somewhat graphic Celtic style. This has allowed me to develop as an artist and so been invaluable to me. They have mostly been monochrome pen and ink images. Quite old fashioned really, as I use a steel dip pen along with technical drawing pens on a hot press watercolour paper. See the examples in the Gallery section for some of these. I like the contrast these produce with my digital work.

From August 2002 to June 2003 I worked on a large scale project for the publishers David and Charles involving over 250 images. The title is ‘The Crafter’s Design Library – Fantasy’. It was published in February 2004. This was a follow up from 2002’s work on ‘The Crafter’s Design Library – Celtic’ title. Also for David and Charles, this was published in February 2003. Since initial publication, both books have been reprinted as paperbacks. Both titles have a German, Russian and Chinese editions. In addition, fantasy has a French edition.

Biggest Project

In early 2014 I was commissioned to produce the art for a tarot deck by Llewellyn Worldwide. This was completed at the end of 2016 and was the biggest project I have undertaken to date. In that period, I produced 78 original paintings. On publication the deck was well received and less than a year later went into reprint. The Celtic tarot will undoubtedly be the high point in my career in publishing.