Oliver Jeffers

Freelance Illustrator.

Nothing to see here image
Nothing to See Here

What was your key motivation in becoming an illustrator?

I didn’t really have specific motivation. I’ve always thought of myself as an artist, and as a storyteller. I discovered, somewhere in the process, that I was good at visually solving other peoples problems, and that it sharpened my mental and drawing skills.

How do you feel being part of an agent as a freelance illustrator has helped with your work to date?

It’s made it easier to have conversations about money that’s for sure. I’ve never been a good business-man or producer. I have a hard time saying no, and often put myself in difficult situations because I under value my work.

Oliver Jeffers by Malcom Brown image
Oliver Jeffers by Malcom Brown

When a commissioner contacts you with a piece of work, what are the first three stages you take?

Often these days I just straight up say ‘no’, because my current workload has me booked up to the end of next year- my time is planned out with future painting exhibitions, my own picture books, picture book collaborations, and the occasional other publishing commission like a book cover or to illustrate a chapter book.

When a project comes along that does pique my interest, its usually because I admire the work of someone- a writer whose work I’d illustrate, or a musician I’d provide album art for. I’ve generally stopped taking on editorial and advertising commissions. I’d make the occasional exception for editorial.

All got stuck image
All Got Stuck

In your most recent solo show at Lazarides, you exhibited a side to your work that many people may not have seen. How do you divide your time between your illustration style and working on your paintings?

I’ve always had this division. I suppose my painting work has been in the shadow a bit because of the success of my picture books. I’ve always organized the division by writing lots of lists, being disciplined and placing deadlines on myself, even when they are random.

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas cover image
The Boy Who Swan with Piranhas Cover

What importance do you put on your own personal body of work and how does this influence your commissioned work?

My personal body of work is of the upmost importance to me. Its pretty much all I do these days. Even the few commissions I take on anymore (with writers and musicians) I’d see as collaborations rather than commissions.

This Moose Belongs To ME PG 12-13
The Moose Belongs to Me

What’s next for you?

I’m writing and illustrating my next picture book. Its a mammoth 112 page book called Once Upon an Alphabet, due to come out next year. I also have a few publishing collaborations lined up for next year working with writers and, in one case, another picture book illustrator. And finally I’ve started preparing for my next show of paintings.


14th March 2014
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