As a child
I was born in Brighton, but we moved to Grantham in Lincolnshire when I was five. Doing a paper round seven days a week was probably the biggest mistake I ever made: I was permanently tired and almost always late for school, but I got to look at all the cartoons every day. I learnt quite a lot from that. I didn’t do art at secondary school until the sixth form, so to make up for that a friend and I spent a lot of time drawing caricatures of the teachers. We had quite a gallery pinned to the classroom wall by the time we had finished.
As an adult
I went to Carmarthen to study Wildlife illustration. I had a terrific time, mostly spent tramping through fields with a sketchbook. However, I felt that I needed something more technically rigorous if I was going to become a professional. So I left after the first year and went to Lincoln College of Art. I spent three years doing Graphic Design, specialising in illustration in the final two years. I had a couple of pieces published before I left college, and became a full time, freelance illustrator as soon as I left.
As an artist
In order to make a living as an unknown in a precarious occupation, I worked in many different styles. I did seaside postcards, illustrated maths books and school textbooks, and lots of other dull work, mostly in black and white. It was ten years before I got to do my first picture book. I still enjoy working in lots of different ways to try and make the pictures fit the text, and my work still gets into lots of different places: newspapers, magazines, picture books, poetry books, and even the Beano.
Things you didn't know about David Parkins
- I am terrible at sports. All of them!
- I have sung quite a lot of opera - mostly in Nottingham.
- I hate getting up early in the mornings.
- I enjoy cooking, and I do most of it in our house.
- My favourite meal is still roast beef, with roast potatoes and a Yorkshire pudding using Delia Smith’s recipe that’s supposed to feed eight but actually just about does three of us.
- I can’t watch Puccini’s La Boheme without crying - and I seem to start earlier and earlier in the performance. I even cried when I was on stage singing in it once. How sad is that?
- I got married in Dundee, and when we came out of the register office the editors and writers of the Beano and the Dandy gave us a guard of honour with rolled up Dandies and Beanos.
- I am horribly disorganized, and I am often late with my work.
- In 2006, when my wife and I were 50 and our daughter, Hattie, was 11 we emigrated to Canada.
- When Hattie started to learn to play the violin, I did too, to keep her company. She is now much, much better than me, so I have stopped. My wife is very pleased.