Children’s Book Illustrator Emma Carlisle

Emma Carlisle is a freelance Children’s Book Illustrator/Author and graduate of Plymouth University with her first picture book out later this year.


‘I studied my BA in Illustration at Plymouth University, which was a wonderful course that made me fall in love with drawing. During my time at Plymouth it was always suggested by my tutors that I should try doing work for picture books, but as an argumentative teen I strayed away. It was very very very very late in the course (perhaps even a few weeks before our final exhibition) when a light clicked for me. Some of us were selected to take part in a 24-hour comic event at the Eden Project. I created my 24-page comic about a boy who gets captured by monkeys whilst taking his bananas to market. I thought I’d made a comic but everyone kept saying it was for children. It was then that I realised that all my strange stories and light hearted illustrations really were better suited for picture books.’


‘When I finished University I had a portfolio half full of screen-printed sex dungeons (which were based on a local news story and designed to be funny not sordid!!!!) and the other half leaning towards non-fiction picture books (and of course my monkey comic). After graduating I felt I’d only just scratched the surface on something I was really passionate about and in September 2012 I packed my bags and moved to Cambridge to start the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin, a course that had always been highly praised whilst studying at Plymouth. The MA beat my high expectations and children’s books have now completely taken over my life. I feel extremely lucky to have been taught by some of the most amazing children’s book illustrators and lecturers – Martin Salisbury, Pam Smy, James Mayhew, Marta Altes, David Hughes, Alexis Deacon and Paula Metcalf (to name a few!).’


‘During my time at Plymouth I was taught by Viv Schwarz who has always been a huge influence for me, I remember her saying that when writing for children you should think back to what you were like as a 4 year old and last year Viv wrote a whole blog post about this (which is a fantastic read).

I’ve recently become a pintrest-aholic, which means that now all my influences are in one small space on the Internet. But they are scattered between Children’s Books, print makers, ceramics, editorial illustrations, furniture, cakes, maps etc etc, the list could go on! But that’s the way I think influences’ should be, a big muddle that inspires you to do something wonderful and unique.’




Website | Blog | @_emmacarlisle