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Neal Layton

As a child

I was born in Chichester, West Sussex. While I was growing up, I spent much of my time playing in the dirt, making home-made catapults and drawing pictures. I was a big fan of the Beano, and enjoyed learning how to sketch the various characters. I think this might be where my penchant for drawing big, googly eyes on everything comes from! I also used to make my own comics, which would quite often feature caricatures of my teachers – and which, thankfully, were never confiscated, or else I would have got in a spot of bother!

As an adult

Although gaining a place to study science at university, I decided to go to art college instead, because I felt I wanted to do something more creative and expressive. I then went on to do a BA in Graphic Design at Newcastle, where I spent all my time making pictures, and so rather than become a graphic designer, I decided to become an illustrator. While doing bits of freelance work, I went on to study for an MA in Illustration at Central St Martin's, which was fantastic, as I felt I’d finally found my true vocation! I learnt an awful lot there. Other jobs I have done alongside my art include working on a lettuce farm, in a teapot factory, in a chocolate factory, in a perfume factory, in a bookshop, in a theatre, behind a bar, and delivering newspapers.

As an artist

I like to use all sorts of different media in my pictures: pencils, paint, pens, ink, pieces of collage, biros, photocopiers, cameras, computers, bits of stick, old toothbrushes, hair, leaves – anything I feel will give me the effect I want. I’ve always been a messy drawer, and I like my illustrations to appear as fresh and spontaneous as possible. I love the way that a few lines of pencil, and a collaged piece of papers, can suddenly become a mountain, some ice cream, or a funny face with big googly eyes – the possibilities are endless…!

Things you didn't know about Neal Layton

  1. Donkeys are my favourite animal.
  2. And rabbits.
  3. And bears.
  4. And most other animals, apart from fleas and sea lampreys.
  5. I ride a skateboard around Southsea, and own five.
  6. I have a collection of nodding dogs.
  7. I also collect children’s books (about 500 at last count).
  8. I have a teddy bear called Joshua Moses.
  9. My car is called Rusty, and is red with flames painted on it. It has a top speed of 65mph.
  10. As a child, I always wanted to be an astronaut and I still wonder what it would be like to stand on the moon and look back at Earth.

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