IlustraTour by NODE: Spain


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We are working together with the organisers of Ilustratour Spain to put on a show in the museum and launch a competition to design a rug!
For this show in the Museo Patio Herreriano we have a range of newly commissioned rugs by Oliver Jeffers, Kitty Crowther, Yann Brien, Cho Sunkyung, Craig Robinson, Hilary Leung and Nadia Shireen as well as rugs that exhibited before at the Design Museum in London, Beatrice Alemagna, Serge Seidlitz, Lesley Barnes, Jon Klassen, Micah Lidberg and Chris Haughton (me!)

If you are interested in joining the competition see the requirements here:

Ilustratour is 2 weeks of illustration workshops/talks and events in Valladolid:

To find out more about our exhibition and competition click to download the press release and links below:


By | 2017-12-07T14:34:25+00:00 June 4th, 2014|1 Comment

Exhibition in Mikkeli, Finland

As part of the Mikkeli Illustration Triennial I will be having an exhibition of my work including several rugs and fair trade toys and many images. There will also be a talk/workshop.
Below is a part of the exhibition catalogue, text by Martin Salisbury.
Details about the Museum and show are here

Runs from 7 June -14 Sept 2014



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By | 2017-09-02T02:15:11+00:00 June 4th, 2014|0 Comments

The making of: Shh! We have a plan


One of the things i have been trying with my books is to tell stories as much as possible through images rather than through words. If the story can be read without language, it should have the ability to be understood by the very young. I would like to think all my books are told in a way that someone without language could understand but I think the story in this book could be the most visual of the three, it certainly has the least text. In fact, the total word count is only 103, and ten of those words are ‘shh!’ which I am not sure is a word but I counted it anyway, I even counted the five words of the title which is a trick i picked up at school. It is a bit embarrassing then, that it took more than 2 years to write. I worked out on average I wrote one word every six days. Not exactly the writing speed most writers aim for… anyhow…

one of the first sketches

I started sketching out ideas for this book thinking there must be some way of making a ‘chase/catch’ type book. It was sparked by seeing an incredibly inspiring show at the Edinburgh fringe by Mr. Bunk called Swamp Juice. It brought me around to thinking of the Road Runner cartoons where there there are elaborate plans which could all work very well visually. Quite suddenly three goon type characters trying to trap a bird popped into my head, that it would be great if there were three, each with a different plan. What I liked the best was there could be a drawn out pantomime effect, similar to A BIT LOST and GEORGE, with an anticipatory page turn between ‘ready/steady’ where the three position themselves to catch the bird and GO! ..where of course they miss.

Finding the ending was easy as i had sort of come up with it in the beginning (!) the really tricky part was fitting the ending into the story. I originally had three other ‘good’ characters who were feeding the birds instead but it seemed very abrupt to introduce them midway. It seemed best to have a character with the answer the whole way through. The book seemed a little clunky and wordy when mocked up with four/five characters on every page, so together with my art director, Deirdre, we hit on the idea of a conversation happening across a page. There was lots of comic potential with this, i really loved working on it. If you think of books like Martin Waddel’s ‘Owl Babies’ it makes use of a repeated conversation across the page, each character repeats the same thing, over and over again. It is predictable but also has a pantomime effect and great for doing silly voices. We had so many great lines we had to work on editing it down and in fact I think there is enough material for another picture book in there if we are lucky.

For my other two books, i am always asked if i used paper cut, as they look quite like it, but in fact I did not use paper cut at all when creating the artwork and it was all pencil and digital. For this one though because it had five characters on each page it needed some sort of drastic simplification for it to be read clearly. Not only that but I was keen for the conversations to read across the page, matching each line with the action of the character. There was so much shifting of compositions around on the pages that it became clear the best way to compose each page was by collage. In fact it made perfect sense to create a mainly silhouette image from paper cut and in fact the design of the birds also benefitted from it too.

collage test


some character sketches

bird characters

characters in collage


some pages showing papercut to digital.

title page v1

title page v2

title page finished

For the final artwork i was keen that that the bird seems somehow from another world, brightly coloured and abstracted and removed from the world of the characters, it focuses all our attention on the relatively tiny bird on the page, leads the reader through the pages of the book and gives a punch of colour at the end. My other books are very colourful so it was quite satisfying to try to work almost entirely in silhouette for this one. In fact there was a lot of really interesting experiments with the colour. Usually full colour printing is in CMYK, but the whole of the book is printed in only CMK (blue,magenta,black) and the only yellow that appears in the book at all is in the colour of the birds.  It was our hope that with this approach the bird would stand out completely from the rest of the book.

I am hugely indebted to my art director and editors, Deirdre McDermott and David Lloyd at Walker books ( i posted about them here) for all their feedback and help on this book. It improved immeasurably with their help and I consider myself very lucky to be working with them.


Available here:
ENGLISH Shh! We have a plan
SPANISH Shhh! Tenemos un plan
CATALAN Shhh! Tenim un pla
NORWAY Shh! Vi har en plan
DENMARK Ssh! Vi har en plan
NETHERLANDS Ssst! We hebben een plan
FRANCE Chut! On a un plan

I will be doing a SHH! book tour in UK/IRE/France in March/April



To any illustrators, especially professional illustrators and designers who are looking to get more into picture book illustration or illustration in general I would highly highly recommend taking a week out to visit Spain for Ilustratour a week of workshop and talks. I was asked to give a workshop and talk at Ilustratour last year and I was blown away by the whole experience. I would have got a lot from visiting these workshops as a participant. It is a 5 day course and then a weekend of talks. Last year Oliver Jeffers, Kitty Crowther, Nosy Crow, Marc Boutavant, Axel Scheffler and David Weisner among others gave talks and workshops amongst others in the beautiful town of Valladolid. A really lovely week of meeting new people and seeing inspiring new work. Here is one of my students Alejandro’s post. Follow them online and book a space for next year’s Ilustratour in July 2014.


also check out this amazing work, there is also a pic in there of myself and Oliver Jeffers in a drunken rendition of ‘The Wild Rover’ we only knew two verses (!!)



By | 2017-09-02T02:15:12+00:00 December 28th, 2013|2 Comments

Milrazones | Librería Gil


I was very happy to finally properly meet and stay with my amazing Spanish publisher Milrazones / Pepa Montano. Milrazones has a very interesting story as a publishing house, it began life as an illegal publisher with Jesús Ortiz printing anti-Franco flyers on a stolen photocopier!! After Franco, Jesús continued publishing, mainly left-wing political writing and non-fiction. Myself and Jesús share a similar taste in books and it was fascinating to hear stories during Franco’s Spain. Jesús teamed up with Paz and Pedro who run a beautiful children’s bookshop called Libreria Gil, an incredibly active bookstore in Santander, in fact it has just won ‘National Award for Cultural Bookstore 2013’. Amongst many other things Libreria Gil welcomed the Irish president (and a huge hero of mine) Michael D Higgins while he was in Santander.

Paz has a great eye for interesting books and together they brought Jon Klassen and lots of other great authors to Spain through Milrazones. Thank you for the wonderful time in Santander and for bringing my books to Spain. I could not imagine a more inspiring publisher and bookstore.  Gracias Jesus, Paz and Pedro!

By | 2017-09-02T02:15:13+00:00 December 27th, 2013|0 Comments

Edinburgh Festival: Accidental Puppetry Show


It was quite funny how this came about. I was booked by Edinburgh festival last year and then subsequently was asked by the organisers what my children’s event would entail. I told them in a rather garbled email i will do a reading and also i have ‘some puppets for sale’. I was terrified when i saw my printed event billed as ‘Puppets with Chris Haughton’ and not only that but it had already sold out!! Not wanting to be booed off the stage by a crowd of angry 2-4 year olds I set to work training George for his stage debut… his routine only lasted for a few minutes and we got some assistance from a 4yo puppeteer from the audience who was the real star of the show. No one was more surprised (and relieved) than me at how well it went down. We completely got away with it. Well done George!

He is going back again this year to Edinburgh and will hopefully tour around with us on our book tour around England and Ireland in March 2014.

By | 2017-09-02T02:15:47+00:00 December 18th, 2013|0 Comments

Premio Andersen Award 2013


A Bit Lost has won the Andersen Award in Italy. It won the picture book category award and the ‘Super Premio Andersen Award’ for best overall children’s book in Italy in 2012. I got to illustrate the cover of the Andersen magazine and they ran an article in Andersen Magazine.

By | 2017-09-02T02:15:51+00:00 December 18th, 2013|0 Comments

A Bit Lost in the Siberian Ket Language


I was approached this year by Nicholas Drofiak, a Phd student who is working on a very isolated language in Siberia. Ket is a language with fewer than 500 speakers, many of whom are now elderly and the language is sadly expected to die out in a generation. It is taught in 5 schools but the children’s first language is now Russian. What is fascinating about Ket is that it is related to the asian tonal languages but seems to have split a long time ago and shows an isolated early form of tonation, it is also related to some North American languages. It may be the last surviving branch of one of the linguistic groups which traveled across the Bering straight many thousands of years ago to populate the Americas. It is so sad to see any language die but Ket sounds like it is a very important language to linguists and it seems such a shame to lose such an incredible piece of history. Nicholas spent the autumn learning from the Ket people and as part of his fieldwork he had my book, A Bit Lost, translated into Ket. He had twenty five copies printed and presented them to the schools and speakers. It is so humbling to think that a picture book could be used in this way, to connect the generations together, the elderly speakers to their grandchildren who cannot and help them understand some of their language. It really made me think again about the role of children’s books and about language, I feel very very lucky to be involved in this project.


Thanks to everyone in Walker books who worked hard to supply the correct formatted files all free of charge for this. Heinrich Werner translated the text and the books were very generously printed by Nicholas with his own money. Thanks to Zoya for the beautiful reading of A Bit Lost in Ket. Unbelievable, what an amazing project.


Here is the audio of the book being read by Zoya:

By | 2017-11-26T12:35:49+00:00 December 17th, 2013|1 Comment