From idea to book

african, character, children's books, design, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing, stories

Everyone has a story…

Everyone has a story inside them. Some of us tell it in a book or a play or on the stage, football pitch or boardroom. But most of us live our story, telling it to our loved ones, every day, year by year… the point is each story gets told and appreciated.

I have heard many wonderful stories and have learned to use the book as my medium. Let me share that way with you in a series of real-time posts, starting with an idea and ending (hopefully) with a beautiful book.

If you have thought of writing or illustrating your own book, or if you are just curious, then this real-time project will be of use before you get in touch.

All you have to do is follow the blog for regular monthly updates on the project. Please comment, spread the word and get involved!

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Don’t forget the day job

children's books, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing

It just occurred to me that I can show pieces from books I have worked on…

The first book  to show is ‘Red Light, Green Light’, written by Anastasia Suen and published by Harcourt a few years ago.

A fun rhyming text and easy to illustrate, I tried to experiment with different coloured outlines as well as trying to capture views of traffic and landscape that children wouldn’t normally see, or they might see on TV. Up to that point It was difficult for me to change my style of painting which had become very recognisable. The difficulty was in persuading publishers to allow me to change.
I believe this book was only published in the US. One of the first ideas for an image in this book is the one below. I’ve never been in a helicopter but the bird’s eye view of  a city seems to be one of the most used in cinema and television and we all take it for granted.  I’m sure this secondary experience will be easily surpassed by the real thing. One day…

The Ides of March


Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–1

Early morning on the Northern Line

illustration, iPhone illustrations, Ken Wilson-Max, London

Its surprising how full the Underground can be at 6:00 am! Some days there aren’t any seats available. Every Thursday I get up at 5:00 am to make a meeting that starts at 6:45 am. Some weeks I go by bicycle but lately I’ve been using public transport as it allows me to make paintings. This person was half awake. He didn’t move a muscle the whole time I was on the train.

The last January snow… or did I speak too soon?


The last of the January snow.

Pitfield St, Hackney, London,England was all covered in snow and ice a couple of days after the snow stopped falling. While it wasn’t the worst or heaviest snowfall in the world, it was an unusual couple of weeks, weather-wise, for most people in the United Kingdom.