Thursday, 20 February 2014

Bread With Bruce!

To celebrate the paperback release of Hooray for Bread, we took illustrator Bruce Ingman out for some yummy bread, pastries and hot chocolate to chat about his inspiration, his illustrations and his favourite ways to eat bread!

What’s it like working with Allan Ahlberg?
It usually starts with him sending me a story, but sometimes he reads it over the phone to me and we talk it through. He’s very open to my interpretation of his stories. I send him my artwork and I get it back with little ticks on it, some red pen, and little comments!

You’ve got a very distinctive style. Did it take long to develop that style?
It’s still evolving all the time. I’ve tried to make it a bit softer, to work for a younger audience. With realistic representational work it’s more about technique and concentration, whereas my style is more about feeling and form. It looks like it’s done in two seconds, but it isn’t!

How did you first get into illustration?
I studied Fine Art at college. I suppose I should have done Illustration, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t, because Fine Art gave me a wide scope of influences and ambitions. While I was studying, my friends ran the Film Society, and I used to go into college at weekends and make posters for them. I’d guess what the film was about. For a film called Mon Oncle, I thought: “that’s about a boy and his uncle”, so I’d make a poster of a boy and his uncle, and by doing that I was able to show my work in public.

Hooray for Bread 
How do you go about doing your work?
I worked at home for a while, but doing that makes you realise that you’ve got to have a routine. If you just stay at home and don’t meet anyone, you won’t get any work done. But when you’re in the studio with other artists, you support each other. These days I work in Great Western Studios, by Regent’s Canal.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Well I teach now and often while I’m setting up, the students aren’t doodling or drawing; they’re just waiting to be taught. They don’t realise that it’s about participating and being passionate. If you have ten minutes to spare, you should do some drawing rather than text your mates! One time I was giving a tutorial to a student, and while she was in the studio waiting for me she had drawn one of the studio’s round windows, with a scene behind it from her imagination. I thought that was brilliant – rather than sit there and text her mates, she had the passion to create something.
Bruce at work!
So how did you move into children’s illustration?
Somehow I ended up teaching Fashion at Nottingham, and the head of Fashion asked me to draw her cat for her. I went to her house and drew the cat, which was supposed to be quite realistic, but to make it more interesting I drew the cat drinking sherry, chatting on the phone, and wearing a frock. I later went to see a publisher with my portfolio and they spotted the cat and asked “can you develop that?” – Eventually it got published as a children's book!  

Do you have a favourite story that you’ve worked on? 
I’d have to say The Pencil. It started as a book with no words, then Allan gave me the first verse and said “try to think where that goes”, so I sent him little drafts in the post. Next thing I knew he had come up with this whole book. I should say Hooray for Bread though shouldn’t I?!

Are you any good at baking bread?
I’ll hold my hands up and say no. I can boil an egg though. (Check out Bruce's personal boiled egg recipe here!)

White or brown?

Jam or honey?

What kind of jam?

Bread or toast?

Marmite - Love it or hate it?
I'm ambivalent towards it.

What’s your perfect sandwich?
When I’m hungry, a banana sandwich is always nice.

Fancy baking some bread yourself? Follow our special recipe for a delicious loaf in four easy steps!


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  3. Allan worked with his partner, Janet, for 20 years. It was among the most popular collaborations between writers and illustrators of its day, but it ended because she died in November 1994, aged just 50. Since then, he has paired up with their daughter, Jessica, and his second wife, Vanessa, has been his Walker Books writer for quite a while. For Allan, though, books weren't always in the family. Source: Best custom essay writing service