Cate James


I was born in Sheffield and grew up in the East Midlands, far from the sea, but surrounded by a creative family of artists, photographers, knitters and a jeweller.

My favourite childhood memories always include my grandparents, and usually the seaside where we took our annual family holiday. There began my lifelong dream to live by the sea.

As a child I was always drawing or reading (or ill in bed with tonsillitis) and apart from a brief dedication to becoming a ballerina, I have always wanted to be an artist like my Grandad and Mum. My Mum was a schoolteacher so I was always encouraged to read. My favourite picture book from childhood, which I still have, is Kate’s Christmas Present by Inger and Lasse Sandberg. I also remember reading The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and absolutely loving it.

Edinburgh is my home, and has been since 1992 when I moved to study Printmaking at Edinburgh College of Art. After graduation I travelled, and lived in Sydney for a year (by the sea). After returning to Edinburgh I found myself stuck on a tangent of jobs in catering and events management for way too long and eventually made the decision to return to ECA to study for a Masters degree in illustration. I am now lucky enough to be a full time Illustrator, but am still very much connected to ECA, having recently finished my term as the illustration department’s Artist in Residence.

I love working in children’s publishing because I am a big kid myself despite nearing middle age, but I like to balance my workload to suit my personality. When I’m not working in my cluttered attic room I am likely to be found watching live music, shopping, or out with friends. So, in addition to drawing for children I work on CD artwork for bands, advertising for lovely shops, and posters for cocktail competitions.

I am a dedicated swimmer and train at a great pool (near the sea) full of characters I want to write and illustrate a picture book about. I also run half marathons although I enjoy that less than swimming, but more than snakes, or the smell of honey.

My plan is to continue illustrating for children as well as grown-ups, and I have always dreamt of emigrating to Australia (near a real beach). Although my talents lie in the drawing part of publishing, I would love to one day see one of my own stories published.

If I was a book, the cover would probably feature a rabbit (by the sea) and it would have gorgeous typography, in red. 

Cate James is the illustrator for the Lollipop and Grandpa series written by Penelope Harper. The series currently includes: Lollipop and Grandpa Go Swimming, Lollipop and Grandpa's Back Garden Safari, and Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth.

My website is: http://catejamesillustration.blogspot.com/