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Mick Inkpen is one of the most popular author/illustrators in the world. His books have sold over 4 million copies, and have been translated into over twenty different languages. His best-loved characters are probably Kipper and Wibbly Pig – who are both stars of their very own TV series!
He began his career as a graphic designer, and worked with another children’s author Nick Butterworth (of Percy the Park Keeper fame) on a cartoon strip for the Sunday Express. In 1989 The Blue Balloon was published to great acclaim, and established him as an important and original voice in children’s picture books. He and his wife, Debbie, also had children of their own by this point: “Without the experience of having children of my own I doubt that I would have been capable of writing effectively for children. And yet it’s true that good work really springs from trying to please yourself”
Mick lives in Essex with his wife and two children.
He began his career as a graphic designer, declining a place to study English at Cambridge University. During this period he worked with Nick Butterworth, a fellow children’s author, from whom he learned design and typography. Together they developed a cartoon strip for the Sunday Express magazine, later to become a first series of children’s picture books. They also worked in children’s television.
In 1989 The Blue Balloon established him as a truly original voice in children’s picture books, by which time Mick and his wife Debbie had two children of their own. “Without the experience of having children of my own I doubt that I would have been capable of writing effectively for children. And yet it’s true that good work really springs from trying to please yourself”
Mick won the Red House Children’s Book Award for Threadbear in 1991, and the Nestle Smarties Award for Kipper’s A-Z in 2001.
Q&A with Mick Inkpen
Who was your favourite author/illustrator as a child?
I used to compete shamelessly with Elizabeth Scriven to see who was the fastest reader in the class, but at home we didn’t have too many books. One I do remember though was Jenning’s Little Hut by Anthony Buckeridge. I wanted to be at that boarding school.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
One of the more vivid ones is playing on my own in a meadow of grasses taller than me, setting off explosions of little blue butterflies.
If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what other job would you do and why?
I guess I’d be involved in film or theatre in same capacity – especially the stage. I’m a sucker for anything from panto to Chekhov. Although, in an alternative universe, somewhere my day job involves regularly beating Federer, even on grass.
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Probably best to keep your heroes at a safe distance where the flaws don’t show. Oh all right then, Bertie Bassett – I love liquorice allsorts.
What is your morning/daily routine?
Really boring. Newspapers. Museli. Juice. E-mails. Maybe feed the fish in the little pond in front of my studio and watch the tadpoles if i want to avoid work for a while. At the moment I’m trying to do a regular bike ride which takes in five short hills and starts in our lane. It’s a mid-life thing.
What is your favourite city to visit and why?
Debbie and I became London tourists for a week a few years ago, having both been brought up on its frayed edges but never really explored it. We walked pretty much everywhere in a heatwave and the city shrank. We didn’t begin to scratch the surface but every day was magic, from curiosities like the Sir John Soanes Museum to tickets for Wimbledon. And no Easyjet queues.
Five Facts About Mick Inkpen
Mick turned down a place to study English at Cambridge University to become a graphic designer.
Kipper was featured on a Royal Mail stamp in 2006.
Kipper won a BAFTA for Best Children’s Animated Film in 1998.
Kipper first made an appearance in 1989’s The Blue Balloon.
Mick used to write a comic strip for the Sunday Express with Nick Butterworth of Percy the Park Keeper fame!