Competitions Illustrators


This month, MONSTER OF THE MONTH illustrator, Jon Holder, took some advice from the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and spent some time with his target audience. Jon took his work-in-progress to three UK schools and read it aloud to hundreds of primary school children aged eight and up.

Jon said, ‘To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I read the book with as much enthusiasm as I had in me. I performed actions, occasionally went off road to ask and answer questions and, of course, gave characters ludicrous voices.’

At the end of the readings, the children were given the chance to design their very own monsters with Jon’s help. This activity was Jon’s favourite part of the visits: ‘Never underestimate the imaginations of children – they are truly unique and often terrifying places and some magnificent creatures emerged as a resultDespite being asked some slightly bizarre questions (“How did you grow your beard?”, “Can we draw this monster sitting on the toilet?” and “Will you share your lunch with me?”) I found the whole day massively rewarding and I’m currently taking steps to arrange some more school visits.’

Bearing in mind what Jon has told us about the amazing imaginations of children, it is our pleasure to give you an insight and introduce…

Fish Fairy

 Ginormous Dragon

Gooey Face

Mr Muzzlejunk

Don’t miss out on your chance to win your own personalised monster this month.

Send a description and/or photograph of your monster to and Jon Holder might just bring it to life for you (with terrifying results).

Competitions Illustrators


This month the winning monster came from Rhoslyn Salisbury in Cheltenham. She has just moved house and said ‘I’m sitting in the bath preoccupied with the thought that there’s a monster constructed of the previous tenant’s hair down the bath drain, about to spring up from under the plug at any moment.’

Congratulations, Rhoslyn! Meet the monster of Plughole Hair…

Don’t miss out on your chance to win your own personalised monster this month.

Send a description and/or photograph of your monster to and Jon Holder might just bring it to life for you (with terrifying results).

Illustrators Interviews

Introducing Pete Williamson’s world of the spooky, gothic and weird…

How would you describe your work?

Quirky is a word that gets used a lot so I might as well go with that. Also scratchy, eerie, funny and (depending on the commission) strange and charming.

Did you like drawing and painting as a child? Do you still have your first drawings or paintings?

I always had an interest in drawing, scribbling and splashing paint around – there might still be old pictures up in my parents’ attic, among the old books and fish tanks.

What does your family think of your illustrations? Do they have a favourite character?

My nieces and nephews love Dinkin Dings and Stitch Head. My mum reads my books to children at the primary school up the road (which I went to) – she likes Stitch Head and The Raven Mysteries.

Stitch Head

How did you become a professional illustrator? And what is your favourite medium to work in?

Years ago I did some underground type comics but I also loved Dr Seuss and I wanted to mix the two. That style led me into animation design rather than  children’s’ books for a long time, but then my work was seen by the art editors for Dinkin Dings and The Raven Mysteries who were looking for an new illustrator. It all led on from there – now it’s  4 1/2 years and 30+ books later. I love working in black and white on watercolour paper with a nib pen – I can get a scratchy line but then add dark washes in watercolour, and then work into the watercolour to get a specific atmosphere.

Dinkin Dings

What’s being an illustrator like? How does the commissioning process work?

Sometimes I think it’s a bit odd that I now make a living from drawing as my career plan was actually more of a day dream than anything sensible or planned. It’s often great, often frustrating (like any creative work), often it’s just a job I have to do – but then I meet people who have jobs they dislike or stumbled into careers that they never really meant to have, and I realise how lucky I am.

Where do you take inspiration from for your characters? Do they have personalities before they appear on paper for the first time?

The books themselves have to have a personality in their own right, and the individual characters’ personalities are part of that. The writers always do a good job of breathing life into the characters in the manuscript – I visualise them to the best of my ability. Inspiration comes from everywhere – films, books, old black and white photos, previous characters I’ve designed that I want to develop further.

Where do you illustrate? 

In a small box room in a quiet cul de sac in a small town in Kent. When I work late into the night on a book I can watch foxes boxing in the road outside.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work in animation? How is this different to illustrating on paper?

I design characters but these are then turned into puppets – either in CGI or as stop motion puppets – they’re always less ‘edgy’ or ‘quirky’ than my illustration work as they need to sell mainstream products. I rarely have to do finished artwork so it usually involves drawing lots and lots of characters and then narrowing it down after feedback from clients.  A few years ago I was looking through some old files at the animation studio and realised I’d done hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of designs over the years, many of which I had no memory of doing.

Do you ever suffer from the equivalent of “writer’s block”? Does that have a name?

I’m lucky in that I’m always working from a manuscript so I can keep referring to that. I’m not really working with a completely blank canvas. Also, as I’m doing 40-50 illustrations a book, if I run out of inspiration on one image I can go to another one in the book and do that, and that might inform how I approach the image I’m having difficulty with. I’ll often have a few images at the end that I’ve put off until the last moment – they very often come out well as I seem to get a burst of inspiration when the end of the book is in sight.

What do you do when you’re not working?

Sleep or look after my daughter.

Who’s your favourite illustrator?

Leigh Hodgkinson – she’s incredibly creative.

What are you reading at the moment?

Up In The Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, too many grumpy bloggers.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Endless mugs of coffee while watching Homes Under the Hammer.

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Study at university so you’ve got a network of creative people for later in life, and illustrate as much as humanly possible – the 10,00 hours of practise rule applies to illustration as much as any other other art form. Ideally, tutors and fellow students should help you reach your own vision more quickly than if you were, like me, trying to come up with something while in a more isolated situation. Take inspiration from absolutely everywhere.

Pete Williamson is represented by Clare Wallace. You can find out more about Pete here.

Competitions Illustrators


Congratulations to the winner of February’s MONSTER OF THE MONTH:
Sophia Roberts from Jersey in the Channel Islands!

Sophia sent us this description of a particularly nasty monster she encountered recently:

I forgot that my mam had given me some home-made fish pie two weeks ago and found the mouldy (and very smelly) remnants of it whilst cleaning last night.

Illustrator Jon Holder got straight to work turning Sophia’s stinking two-week old fish pie into a Fridge Beast::

Sophia said: ‘This is amazing! I am going to put it up on my fridge to remind me to 1) actually eat the food my mam gives me and 2) clean it out once in a while! Ha ha! Thank you so much Jon for my Monster!

Don’t miss out on your chance to win your own personalised monster this month.

Send a description and/or photograph of your monster to and Jon might just bring it to life for you (with terrifying results).

Entries for March’s MONSTER OF THE MONTH will close on Friday 29th March.

Competitions Illustrators


Jon Holder, writer and illustrator extraordinaire, has set himself a monstrous challenge. Every day in 2013 will see him creating a different fantastical creature or character, using only paint, pencils and his own boundless imagination. Prepare to be impressed, amused, terrified, disgusted, appalled and enthralled by the results! You can catch a glimpse of them here…if you dare.

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s your chance to get involved. Once a month, Jon will be creating a personalised monster for one lucky fan! All you have to do is email an image of something that has turned your day into a bit of a monster. Jon will pick his favourite and unleash his MONSTER OF THE MONTH here and on his Facebook page.

The monster of your day could be the puddle that soaked your feet; a hot, smelly, commuter-packed train; that weed in your garden that keeps reappearing; the cake you made that turned out to be inedible; the shopping bag that split; the pile of washing up that won’t stop multiplying; the bus which arrived too late; the report that won’t write itself; the ketchup that won’t come out of the bottle just when you’ve got a delicious plate of chips; the cat that scratched your dining chairs … All those little things that turn a good day into a beastly one!

And to kick-start the monthly competition, we have our very first MONSTER OF THE MONTH.

Peggy, Camilla Wray’s usually gorgeous Pugalier, was being a little monster and tried to steal her lunch…she emailed Jon with an image of Peggy:

And Jon turned Peggy into MEGA POOCH:

Camilla says: Miss Peggy is a lovely little Pugalier, so cheerful, loving and fun. But be warned, if there is a crumb of food near this sweet pup will turn into a capital ‘M’ Monster.

Lunch time is the worst. She tries every trick in the book; from rolling over to jumping from the bookshelf onto the table. She has also worked out that if she sits under a pizza box and taps the lid with her paw, pieces may just bounce along the cardboard and drop into her waiting mouth.

So be warned anyone who encounters Peggy the Pugalier and double knot your sandwich bags, because the Monster will strike.

So, if you’d like Jon to create your own personalised creature, simply send a photo of your ‘monster’ to me,
Entries for February will close on Friday 22nd February.

By Clare Wallace