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Emma Dodson

As a child

I was born in Hampton Court, right next door to King Henry VIII's palace. As a child I divided my time equally between being incredibly worried and very excited. Things that worried me were Fingerbobs, false teeth, the colour green, spiders, Mrs Barlett (a particularly terrifying school teacher), rice pudding, the circus, hairdressers, scary movies, the dentist, big dogs, the dark, and most of the tales of Beatrix Potter. Things I found exciting were colours (all except green), frogs (despite being green), making things from old shoe boxes, family Christmases, the seaside, noisy rain, Edward Lear, swimming, netball, helping backstage in school plays, chocolate, Dr Seuss, dancing, getting a letter in the post, and Bagpuss. When I grew up, I wanted to be the person on Blue Peter who thought up what to make out of old washing-up liquid bottles and toilet rolls each week.

As an adult

I had a wonderful time studying Illustration at University of Westminster in Harrow. I didn't do too much drawing but spent most of my time making stuff from different sorts of rubbish. Whilst at Uni I shared a smelly house with a motley collection of lost souls and noisy South Africans. They made me appreciate how strange and different can also be beautiful. Since leaving University I have been working freelance, making and painting props for film and TV. Films I have made props for include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Borrowers, 101 Dalmations, Golden Age, Van Helsing, Mission Impossible, Evita, Braveheart, Troy. TV work includes Harry Hill's TV Burp, Jam and Jerusalem, Life of Riley, Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous, Holby City and Jonathan Creek. I have also been teaching on my old illustration course at University of Westminster for many years. My students are a constant inspiration to me and I have been encouraged to develop illustration projects for magazines, greetings cards and more recently children's books. I have always been very inspired by silly stories and poems and in my spare time I began to write and illustrate my own. My first silly story was published by Hodder in 2005.

As an artist

The first children's story I wrote and illustrated, called Badly Drawn Dog, was published by Hodder in 2005. It is a strange tale about a scribbly little dog, unhappy about his appearance who visits an artist to see if he can improve his looks. It was based on my own childhood experiences at the hairdressers. My second picture book is called The Very Important Idea. My latest novelty picture book with Walker Books is called Speckle the Spider and the Bananas from the Bahamas. My stories are often about things that I found worrying as a child – my appearance, the hairdressers, horrible teachers, spiders etc. I have also enjoyed illustrating for other authors on a number of books for all age groups. I particularly like drawing scruffy little animals and children. I love colour but I also really enjoy working in black and white. I create images quickly using a combination of stencils and foam stamps, and paint scraped across the page. Then I usually draw over the top of these images with ink.

Things you didn't know about Emma Dodson

  1. I have big feet.
  2. I am a very untidy person.
  3. I hate sums.
  4. I love sunny days.
  5. I like to be busy.
  6. I hate perfume that is supposed to smell like the seaside.
  7. My grandfather was an inventor.
  8. I cannot see the point of cardigans without sleeves.
  9. I will always hate going to the hairdressers.
  10. I enjoy overhearing conversations.

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Emma Dodson

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