The Irish children’s book illustrator talks new projects, life in London and his passion for fair trade
You’re best known for your distinctive children’s picture books. Tell us a bit about your new title, Goodnight Everyone.
I was trying to experiment with scale. It seemed like a nice non-verbal way to communicate with younger children. They are able to understand the concept of turning pages and things getting bigger. I tested the idea on my eight-month-old twin nieces who were too young at the time to grasp my other books. They got this one, though.
You taught English to children in Hong Kong, and recently took part in a project inviting kids to your studio. Do you find working with children inspiring?
I hadn’t a clue about children until I was thrown in the deep end with my teaching job. I never had any training, and I just made up the lessons as I went. It was actually quite helpful when I think back – I can tell pretty fast which stories are going to bomb from my time reading to kids in Hong Kong.
Do you also find your work is inspired by your travels?
It helps a lot! Although, I may just be telling myself that because I love travelling. I always have my best ideas on the road, though. I find just having your routine turned on its head shakes you out of your usual ways of thinking.
If you could settle anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I have chosen to be in London for the last 12 years. I love it. Actually, though, I am looking around for somewhere new, just for a change. I love San Francisco and would love to give New York a go, too.
What are your favourite places to visit in London?
The Wellcome Collection and British Library have great exhibitions. Plus, the Design Museum and Tate. And nothing beats sitting in the parks with friends and a bottle of wine!
You’re co-founder of Fair Trade initiative Node. Can you tell us a bit more about the project?
I found this amazing business when I was working in Nepal in 2010. It was set up by a family of the lowest caste to train adults in technical skills. One of the things they do is weave rugs, so I helped them by offering some designs. First it was just my own, then later I roped in other designers and artists. We are selling them online and through the Design Museum.
What’s on your reading list?
I’m reading about computers at the moment. I’m working on something new about the history of IT – it’s taking a while!
Goodnight Everyone (£12.99, Walker Books) is out 4 August