Quentin Blake


While studying illustrators for blogging, I came across Quentin Blake. I decided to blog Quentin as not only am I fascinated by his beautiful illustrations, but the stories hold memories from my childhood books.

Quentin Blake was born in the suburbs of London in 1932 and has drawn ever since he can remember. He went to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School before studying English at Downing College, Cambridge. After National Service he did a postgraduate teaching diploma at the University of London, followed by life-classes at Chelsea Art School.
He has always made his living as an illustrator, as well as teaching for over twenty years at the Royal College of Art, where he was head of the Illustration department from 1978 to 1986. His first drawings were published in Punch while he was 16 and still at school. He continued to draw for Punch, The Spectator and other magazines over many years, while at the same time entering the world of children’s books with A Drink of Water by John Yeoman in 1960.
He is known for his collaboration with writers such as Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, John Yeoman and, most famously, Roald Dahl. He has also illustrated classic children’s books, and created much-loved characters of his own, including Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.
Since the 1990s Quentin Blake has had an additional career as exhibition curator, curating shows in, among other places, the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris.  In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces. Most recently he has completed a scheme for the whole of a new maternity hospital in Angers.
His books have won numerous prizes and awards, including the Whitbread Award, the Kate Greenaway Medal, the Emil/Kurt Maschler Award and the international Bologna Ragazzi Prize. He won the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the highest international recognition given to creators of children’s books. In 2004 Quentin Blake was awarded the ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Government for services to literature and in 2007 he was made Officier in the same order.  In 1999 he was appointed the first ever Children’s Laureate, a post designed to raise the profile of children’s literature. His book Laureate’s Progress (2002) recorded many of his activities and the illustrations he produced during his two-year tenure. Quentin Blake was created CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK.

‘Blake is beyond brilliant. He’s anarchic, moral, infinitely subversive, sometimes vicious, socially acute, sparse when he has to be, exuberantly lavish in the detail when he feels like it. He can tell wonderful stories without a single word, but his partnership with Roald Dahl was made in heaven. Or somewhere. The diabolic ingenuity of Dahl came into its own only when he wrote for children. In conjunction with Blake, there was a kind of alchemy. I’ve never met a child who didn’t love Quentin Blake.’  (Melanie McDonagh, Daily Telegraph)


So Quentin Blake illustrated books for Roald Dahl, books such as….

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I’ve chosen to show my childhood favourites here, especially Matilda as I remember spending a lot of time drawing that very illustration so many times. In fact as mothers like to collect theyre childs drawings im sure my mum still has mine of Matilda!! I was intrigued by the hair for some reason, of Matilda, and I have to laugh now looking back as the hair is simply basic lines but also the pile of books and boxes I found myself happy drawing too.


This book I have managed to sneak out of my son’s bedroom so we can take a look inside.

I think these two illustrations are the most interesting. Using no colour here I think adds character to the illustrations as well as the story and I also love the unusual imagination and how Quentin Blake has cleverly drawn basic images yet they look so detailed and instead of the use of colour he has painted areas in different shades.

While looking for more information about Blake, I realised that he was sat there, on my own book shelf the whole time on a book and a magazine I had bought off Ebay, ‘Meet the Authors &Illustrators’ by Stephanie Nettell and a ‘Artists & Illustrators’ Magazine the special 300th edition.

Stephanie Nettell quotes “Most picture book artists, in their hearts, prefer to illustrate their own stories. Rightly or Wrongly, the world sees it as a greater achievement; the artist need not worry about how to interpret someone else’s ideas; and it doubles the money. But Quentin Blake actually likes illustrating other people’s stories.” She also describes that “He works with the best because he too is the best.” From these quotes I understand that his work is very valuable and reputable.

Looking at the Artists & Illustrators magazine, they have dedicated their 300th issue to Quentin Blake. Steve Pill, the Editor of the magazine explains in the introduction; “To celebrate our anniversary, we are taking a look back at the last 25 years in the wonderful world of art” aswell as ‘Talking Techniques he also types “And finally, of course, we have the colourful cover, created especially for our 300th issue by the legendary illustrator, Quentin Blake. It is a privilege to have a origional of his on the front of the magazine, but it has also been fascinating getting an insight into how he approaches a project.”. On page 7 of the magazine, a section describes that a signed proof of the cover illustration would be held for auction with the money going to the ‘house of illustration’, and then further in, on pages 20-23 there is more information about Blake and the house of illustration.

“Don’t worry about being a great artist … just draw until you find your style”

Says illustrator Quentin Blake at The Sun, and he also quotes “Drawing is important because it is a way of expressing yourself. I think a lot  of the world’s problems are to do with people not being able to express  themselves properly. You shouldn’t worry about doing it right — just draw  until you find your style. I taught myself by just doing it all the time.”

According to The Daily Record there will be a ‘As Large As Life’ exhibition at Paisley Museum from April 27 to June 24. on Apr 29 2012, Maggie Barry  discusses children’s favourite illustrator Quentin Blake on classic partnership with writer Roald Dahl; Quentin Blake has a marvellous tale – on Roald Dahl Day, he got impressionist Alistair McGowan to read an excerpt from the best-selling author’s The Twits at the National Theatre.


“Work of Willy Wonka artist brings smiles to Sick Kids” The Evenning Times describes how some of Blake’s work, who created some of the most famous characters in children’s fiction, from Willy Wonka to the BFG – have gone on display in the hospital at Yorkhill, through a link-up with Renfrewshire Arts and Museums. “THE collection was created for patients across Europe and now youngsters at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children are getting a first glimpse of images by top children’s illustrator Quentin Blake.” Click the following link to see the full article http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/work-of-willy-wonka-artist-brings-smiles-to-sick-kids.17433098.


About bonny83

I am currently studying at Glyndwr University, North Wales School of Art and Design. Design Communication is the main subject body while also looking at a large variety of the many forms of Art. My main interest is illustration and I am considering illustration for children's books for the future. Art and Design has always been a huge part of my life and i am enjoying taking things further for a possible career.

4 responses »

  1. Roald Dahl is a name to be reminiscent about dating back to my primary school days, even though I do not quite remember the details of his stories. However I do echoe his opinion “Don’t worry about being a great artist … just draw until you find your style”… I’m glad you found a great artist to worship as a hero.

    • I agree, I don’t know why I didnt think about both Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake earlier as I have alot of their work around the house

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