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Illustration by Helen Stephens

I was born in Darlington and when I was four years old I declared that one day I would go to art school. And I did, I went to Glasgow School of Art. My first illustration job was when I was 15, I drew a horse for a bookies’ window. Scroll down to read more …

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Helen Stephens, Children’s Illustrator

I was born in Darlington and when I was four years old I declared that one day I would go to art school. And I did, I went to Glasgow School of Art. My first illustration job was when I was 15, I drew a horse for a bookies’ window. After art school I worked as an editorial illustrator for a while, before having my first picture book published in 1998.

‘How to Hide a Lion’ has sold in 14 languages. It was nominated for The Kate Greenaway Medal, The Redhouse Book Awards and won the Prix Livrentete. It has been adapted for stage by The Polka Theatre. It runs until February 2017, then tours.

I regularly visit schools, museums and literary festivals, and taught on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, where I am currently a visiting lecturer. I have lectured for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and for the Association of Illustrators. My work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions and groups shows.

I have illustrated for authors including Michael Morpurgo, Cécile Aubry, Sophie Hannah, Holly Webb and Roger McGough, as well as writing my own texts.

My favourite picture books always have a strong sense of place, so drawing from life is an important aspect of my work. When I illustrated the Michael Morpurgo books, I travelled to Switzerland and Venice so that I could draw, explore, and get a feel for the places he wrote about.

I live with my partner, fellow illustrator Gerry Turley, and our child on the windy Northumberland coast, we have a scruffy mutt called Peggy.