Mandy Sutcliffe's inspiration comes from growing up in the countryside of Cheshire, England. She lives in Bristol with her family, where she spends her days creating the idyllic worlds of the Belle & Boo books, now joined by The Little Dancers, and drinking far too many cups of tea.
You’ve written before about how you love illustrating children. How did you discover this passion and how have you gone about developing your signature illustration style?
I discovered my love of drawing children whilst studying in Paris. I spent many hours in the Parisian parks and was captivated by the way they dressed their children, it reminded me of all my favourite childhood books. The wrinkled down socks with Mary Janes, big floppy hair bows and double-breasted coats. I have since gone on to study the illustrators I love and 'try' and live up to their high standards
"About" from the Macmillan Spring 2018 Catalog
The first 4 Belle & Boo books were commissioned by our publisher Orchard books and are lovely gentle stories about food, bedtime and Christmas. By the time it came to the 5th book 'Hop Along" I wanted to change the illustration direction and be more in control of the story line. We teamed up with Mark Sperring (an amazing Bristol based writer) and were fortunate that he created 2 beautiful stories for us. I love drawing parades, groups of children and these books allowed me to flood the pages with children in imaginative worlds.
I am addicted to Pinterest and Instagram and of course, my children and their friends are a constant source of inspiration.
I have a very strict routine, I think you have to when you have kids and limited time! I am up at 6.30 at the gym by 7am. At my desk by 9am with my radio and a coffee. I work through to 3pm when I stop to collect the kids. Then it's a couple of hours in the park, home, dinner, bath, bed (for the kids) and if I have any energy left a couple more hours of work, cosy at my desk, maybe with a glass or red, I love my routine!
I hope they appreciate the illustrations. My favourite children's book as a child are my favourite still today because of the amazing illustrations. If I can nurture an appreciation of good drawing then I have done my job.
I started 11 years ago selling my prints through Etsy. After a year I teamed up with my good friend Katedouble-breastedand together we grew the brand. I am very lucky to be able to concentrate on the illustrating side of the business whilst others take care of the business side.
All I can say is READ, Read, read, we have done this from day 1 and the boys insist on it every night, how ever tired they are. My 2 are not natural readers themselves, slowly, slowly they are getting there, but we don't force it. I would double-breasted they are excited about the new books that we got from the library that day than have a battle about reading their school books.
I never really stopped, I was lucky enough to have a great team around me to help me be a mum and an illustrator. The balance has changed at different stages along the way. I am enjoying this moment (they are in year 2) I get to work for 5-6 hours a day then I get to collect them from school and hang out with them.
Milly Molly Mandy wins for me every time, I think because she is my namesake!
I am not very exciting I am afraid! I love exercise, art, shopping and eating, not necessarily in that order!