Illustration Week: Jo Davies meets illustrator Kitty Crowther

Bloomsbury Illustration Week

We’re spending a week celebrating the art of illustration! Stay tuned for exclusive interviews and excerpts from some of our favorite authors and books. And that’s not all – we’re also offering a sale on every book we’re featuring.

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We’re kicking off Illustration Week with a report from Jo Davis on her interview with Kitty Crowther, written while she was compiling her research for Making Great Illustration.

Making Great Illustration

Excerpt from Jo Davies’ report for Making Great Illustration, by Derek Brazell and Jo Davies, published by Bloomsbury in 2011.

My young daughter asked me to bring her back a bag of sprouts from Brussels, instead I brought her a book from the extraordinary illustrator Kitty Crowther, one of the artists included in Making Great Illustration.


What’s amazing about Kitty is that most of us here in the UK have never heard of her, nor seen her work. That’s amazing because she is a hugely talented writer and illustrator celebrated the world over, but not published in the UK. 

When I visit her in her studio in we both drink tea in big cups and Kitty talks about her prize (the Astrid Lindgren Memorial award 2010)

I know it’s not polite to ask about money, but I can’t help wondering about what it’s like to be given almost half a million pounds. She is very humble about it and says that it will give her some freedom and the chance to buy a house of her own.

She tells me a story about one of her sons inventing other prizes that she thinks she should be awarded and although I can’t remember the details the gist of it is that she realises it’s not an excuse to get a big ego.

What is most memorable is the way that Kitty giggles as she speaks, whilst rolling up her own cigarettes. We sit in her big loft studio with the roof windows open and the sound of the birds outside is quite astounding. It may sound condescending, or corny, to say that Kitty is charming but really she is. I find her quite magical.

When she talks about her visits to Norway during her childhood and her interest in folklore it’s easy to imagine her in some mystical landscape, it seems to be where she belongs with her cast of creatures.

I’m not surprised when she muses about using some of her prize money for that same purpose. No sprouts there either but more chance of encountering the witches and other ethereal beings in which she believes.

Photography by Paul Duerinckx

Jo Davies is co-author of Understanding Illustration, Making Great Illustration and Becoming a Successful Illustrator, all with Derek Brazell.  Jo and Derek are currently working on the second edition of Becoming a Successful Illustrator, which will publish in 2017. Their website has more information on all the books including additional material and blog posts.