Clare Elsom


I grew up in a village just outside Oxford, where I could walk everywhere and my best friend lived just around the corner. I was a complete bookworm; I would read and re-read books and get completely absorbed in the characters’ lives. I adored Enid Blyton and wanted to have adventures in boarding school, dig up buried treasure or live in a castle. I also loved watching cartoons and was fascinated by all their tiny details. I used to pause videos and draw the characters from the screen.

While I’ve always been creative, I was not a child who drew all of the time. It was a love of books, stories, characters and a vivid imagination that led me to my job as an illustrator. Or, I suppose, what literally led me to be an illustrator was a journey from a truly inspiring art department at school, to a challenging Art Foundation course, then to a degree in Illustration at University College Falmouth. My time in Falmouth was brilliant: a beautiful, fun and creative place by the sea. I made more friends that lived just around the corner, drew every day, and tried to limit the amount of fish and chips I consumed!

I now work full time as a children’s book illustrator from The Papered Parlour studios in London. I love my job and get inspired by all sorts of things – clutter, colours, meerkats, patterns, people watching… as well as the stories that land on my desk (or inbox, to be more precise.)

 My work is led by hand-drawn lines: scribbling characters and backgrounds with pens and pencils onto paper, which are then scanned in and collaged together in Photoshop with digital colour and scraps of pattern and hand-made textures. I could never eliminate the hand drawn element from my work, but I really love working digitally too – it also removes any fear of mistakes!I like: tea, pastry and chocolate; meals with close friends; the sound of writing; walking; cold, sunny days; otters; long train journeys; bookcases; photographs; clothes shopping; ambitious people; old, beautiful, rambling houses; egg on toast; music; dancing; treats; and travels.

I dislike: doorbells and telephones; clowns; wasps; vinegar; disorganisation; laziness; and rain.

I really like working on Arthur – drawing him came very naturally to me; it’s almost like he was already in my head, waiting for me to read the story and bring his image to life. I’m also slightly envious of his pet duck. Well, who wouldn’t want a pet duck?!

My website is: http://www.elsomillustration.co.uk