Christyan Fox

…is a freelance illustrator, author and lecturer living in Thames Ditton, UK. He creates children's books – both with and without his wife Diane – as well as packaging design, graphics, magazines and advertising. Christyan also teaches children's book illustration and writing, from early school years all the way up to M.A. level. He currently runs classes at UAL-Chelsea, Kingston University and the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington.

Diane Fox

…was a senior graphic designer with London design consultants Minale Tattersfield for twelve years. She now works with Christyan in creating children's books. 

Together

…they are a multi-award winning author and illustrator team. Over the last 30 years Christyan and Diane have created more than 50 children's books as well 22 educational books and stories for the BBC. They also run various courses and workshops on creating children's books. They live in Thames Ditton, UK, and are the parents of three children - one of whom is severely disabled with Angelman Syndrome. 


+ BOOKS WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY DIANE AND CHRISTYAN FOX

  • A Dog Called Bear (Faber & Faber 2016) Award nominated
  • The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, The Wolf and Grandma’s Wardrobe (Words & Pictures 2014) Award winning
  • Dinosaur Poo (Words & Pictures 2014)
  • Snip and Snap – One or Two (Orchard/Hachette 2012)
  • Snip and Snap – On and Off (Orchard/Hachette 2012)
  • Snip and Snap – Rain or Shine (Orchard/Hachette 2011)
  • Snip and Snap – Red or Blue (Orchard/Hachette 2011)
  • Bet the Vet (Gullane/Meadowside 2011)
  • Delivery Man Stan (Macmillan 2010)
  • WheelyWorld - Ratty Patty the Rusty Car (Egmont 2009)
  • WheelyWorld - Big-Tow Joe the Breakdown Truck (Egmont 2009)
  • WheelyWorld - Enzo the Racing Car (Egmont 2008)
  • WheelyWorld - Monty the Rally Car (Egmont 2008)
  • Little Tom and the Trip to the Moon (Gullane/Meadowside 2008)
  • Tyson the Terrible! (Bloomsbury 2006)
  • Jungle Street Hide & Seek (Campbell Books 2005)
  • Around the World PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2002)
  • Pirate PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2002)
  • What colour is that, PiggyWiggy? (Little Tiger 2001)
  • Count to ten, PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2001)
  • What shape is that, PiggyWiggy? (Little Tiger 2001)
  • What's the opposite, PiggyWiggy? (Little Tiger 2001)
  • Spaceman PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2001)
  • Bathtime PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2000)
  • Cat and Mouse - The Hole Story (Little Tiger 2000)
  • Fireman PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 2000)
  • Goodnight PiggyWiggy (Little Tiger 1999) Award winning
  • Tilly Tote, Build a Boat! (Walker 1996)
  • Shipwreck! (Walker 1995)
  • Top Secret! (Walker 1995)
  • The Black Hat Gang (Walker 1994)
  • Creepy Castle (Walker 1994)
  • Santa's Crazy Christmas (Walker 1993)

+ FILM AND TV

  • Christyan studied animation at BA level under Bob Godfrey and Mike Joyce.
  • Co-wrote scripts and produced model sheets and template drawings with Varga Studios for the pilot episode and proposed series of Goodnight PiggyWiggy, 2002.
  • Wrote two stories for episodes of the CBBC TV series Driver Dan's Story Train, 2011: Doug the Most Famous Dog in the World (which he also illustrated) and Elephant Jump.

+ GREETINGS CARDS

  • Munchkins: Occasions range, 14 cards, Paperlink 2012
  • Cool Cats & Hot Dogs: Occasions range, 18 cards, Paperlink 2012
  • Cool Cats & Hot Dogs: Everyday range, 14 cards, Paperlink 2012
  • The Real World: Full Everyday range, 36 cards, Leaping Snail 1999

+ CHARITY WORK

Christyan has been a trustee for 'ASSERT', the Angelman Syndrome UK charity (www.angelmanuk.org) from 2006. During that time he has re-designed Assert's entire media output including logo, merchandising, newsletters, website, brochures, leaflets, signage, literature, conference material etc.

+ BOOKS ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTYAN FOX WITH OTHER AUTHORS

  • Creaky Castle (with Jane Clarke) Simon & Schuster 2010
  • Wind-Up Pirate Ship (with Louie Stowell) Usborne 2009
  • Bopping Big Band (with Sean Taylor) Scholastic 2008
  • Farmer Fred, Get Out of Bed! (Scholastic 2008)
  • Emergency, Rescue! (with Jonathan Emmett) Macmillan 2008
  • Dig It, Build It! (Jonathan Emmett) Macmillan 2007 Award winning
  • Zoom! (with Jonathan Emmett) Macmillan 2005
  • One Clever Creature (with Joseph Ellis) Piccadilly Press 2006
  • Pirate Adventures (with Russell Punter) Usborne 2006
  • How many Sharks in the Bath? (Bill Gilham) Frances Lincoln 2005
  • Traffic Jamboree (with Sue Nicholson) Campbell Books 2003 Award winning
  • Stories of Pirates (with Russell Punter) Usborne 2003
  • Milly's Golden Goal (with Harriet Castor) Viking 1997
  • Milly of the Rovers (with Harriet Castor) Viking 1996
  • The Burglar's Breakfast (Felicity Everett) Usborne 1995

+ EDUCATIONAL BOOKS ILLUSTRATED BY CHRISTYAN FOX WITH OTHER AUTHORS

  • Usborne – Beginners Trains 2011
  • Usborne – Why Should I Keep Fit? 2008
  • Usborne – First Pets: Gerbils 2005
  • Usborne – Beginners Rubbish and Recycling 2005
  • Usborne – First Pets: Guinea Pigs 2005
  • Usborne – Beginners Firefighters 2004
  • Usborne – Beginners Trucks 2002
  • Usborne – Beginners Farm Animals 2003
  • Usborne – Beginners Living in Space 2002
  • Usborne – First Pets: Rabbits 1999
  • Usborne – A Visitor's Guide to Ancient Rome 1999
  • Usborne – First Pets: Dogs & Puppies 1998
  • Usborne – First Pets: Cats & Kittens 1998
  • Usborne – Understanding Your Body 1998 Award winning
  • Usborne – Understanding Your Senses 1997
  • Usborne – Understanding Your Muscle's and Bones 1996
  • Usborne – Understanding Your Brain 1995
  • Oxford Reading Tree – Mum's New Car 1991
  • Oxford Reading Tree – The Village Show 1988
  • Oxford Reading Tree – Kate's Garden 1988
  • Oxford Reading Tree – Kate and the Sheep 1987
  • Oxford University Press – Adventures in English (series of 4 books) 1986-90

+ AWARDS WON

  • Bishop’s Stortford Literary Prize 2017 (Nominated)
  • Hampshire Illustrated Book Award 2017 (Winner)
  • Southampton Books to Share award 2006 (Winner)
  • Southampton Books to Share award 2004 (Winner)
  • Times Educational Supplement award 2002 (Winner)
  • Stockport Schools Book Award 2001 (Winner)


 

+ HOW DID YOU MEET?

We were at Middlesex University together on a BA Graphic Design Course from 1982 to 1986.

+ WHAT'S IT LIKE WORKING TOGETHER?

I've worked freelance from home since leaving University so have never had a conventional working environment, though Diane had a 'real' job as a senior designer in London for twelve years. Our current working relationship is ideal for us as we create story ideas together then I do the final text and all the illustrations. Diane's background as a designer is very good for working out page layouts, making dummies of new books to sell to publishers and resolving any of the paper engineering elements in our novelty books. She also has a much better grasp of business than my poor illustrator's brain can manage. The working relationship has turned out to be fortuitous in other ways as we have a son with Angelman Syndrome who requires full-time care, so a regular job away from home just wouldn't work for us.

+ WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM?

I wish I knew so that I could go back and get some more. Seriously? At the oddest times: in the bath, on my motorbike, when I'm working on something completely different, when I hear something on the radio... It can be any time. I think everyone probably has the same inspiration if they just took note of it. Working from home always makes it difficult to focus on the task in hand - too many other distractions - but deadlines and the pressure to pay the bills are the best remedies to writer's or illustrator's block.

+ WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Chocolate biscuits help a lot when I'm feeling down. But workwise? I suppose it's seeing other artists' work: I was greatly influenced by the 'Ligne Claire' style of Hergé and Patrick Caulfield early in my career. Then I studied animation as part of my university course and achieving movement of line became very important to me and artists like Quentin Blake, Mel Calman and Tony Ross became influential. Cézanne has also been a strong influence in how he changed the ways of looking at an image from being purely representational... distorting the rules of perspective to suit the needs of the image. I use his techniques a lot, as do other children's book illustrators.

+ WERE YOU AN ARTISTIC CHILD?

I'd like to say I was in galleries all the time, but I don't think I was taken to a gallery or exposed to 'real art' until my early teens. I spent a lot of my childhood reading comics, then re-drawing them frame by frame to work out how the stories were constructed. I also spent an unhealthy amount of time drawing cars and had a terrible dilemma over whether to become an illustrator or car designer. A poor grasp of physics and maths made the decision for me... and probably made our roads a lot safer.

+ WHO SHOULD COME ON YOUR COURSES?

The people I'd most like to see are those who have thrown down a children's book in contempt and said "Pah, I could do better than that!" Many people have really great ideas for a children's book, but probably have no idea where to start. Our beginner's course starts with an overview suitable for writers or artists, then we organize the group so that people can concentrate on writing or illustrating, or combine the two. People can choose to work on their own or be inspired by what others are doing. We introduce a certain amount of structure but then let the group find its own level. You can come along with a story or character idea of your own, or we'll guide you in creating them. There's no requirement to be a great writer or artist, some terrific books have been created with no words at all and others with only stick-men figures... there's no 'right' way to do it. Full details of the various courses we offer are available on the website.

+ WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MEDIUMS TO WORK WITH?

I still draw with the softest pencils I can work with - up to 8B - for the best line quality and scan all the line work; for me there's still no digital equivalent to the loose spontaneity you get with a pencil. I used to paint all my backgrounds with watercolour inks, then I moved to scanning large areas of paint and manipulating them, then moved wholly to producing all my colour in Photoshop a few years ago. The change was largely pragmatic; there seem to be fewer and fewer publishers who will accept anything other than digital artwork these days and it speeds up the process enormously. I used to spend a day on a painting only for a publisher to say "I don't like the colour of the train, can you change it?" That would entail another full day's painting and I'd lose something the original had, whereas digitally it's a lot easier to make changes. The only problem is the publishers know that too...

+ HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

Hmm, that's a tricky one. I think an editor recently gave the best description when she was explaining why she wanted to use me for a job. She wanted a book about kittens, but she didn't want them to be cute and fluffy... She wanted Kittens with an edge... She wanted them to move on the page and she wanted kittens with attitude. I'm not satisfied with my work unless it has some life on the page and that my characters have attitude.

+ WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF?

Probably seeing the publication of the first book that we illustrated and wrote - Goodnight PiggyWiggy - way back in 1999.

+ SO JUST HOW MANY CHOCOLATE BISCUITS DO YOU EAT?

More than you can possibly imagine.