It’s fair to say we’ve had some exciting moments in the Stylist office: sitting down with all four Sex And The City ladies for our New York issue; artist Rob Ryan designing last year’s picnic cover; and collaborating with Vivienne Westwood and Giles Deacon for our glossy fashion issues. Now we have a new one to add to our list: Quentin Blake designing this week’s cover (pictured below).
The man responsible for bringing the literary characters of our childhood to life (who can forget his sketch of Matilda sat on her pile of books?), Quentin, 78, famously illustrated all of Roald Dahl’s children’s books, along with the work of countless other great authors and his own stories, such as Mrs Armitage On Wheels. His distinctive style is unrivalled and incredibly powerful – merely looking at a picture of the BFG holding Sophie in the palm of his hand is enough to whisk us straight back to reading under the covers in our childhood bedrooms. As a result there was only ever one contender to design our cover…
What attracted you to design our cover on the nostalgia of childhood literature?
I’ve always liked the idea of creating a visual equivalent of the excitement of reading. My take on this was to draw lots of characters bursting out of an open book.
Many of the characters and stories in your design are recognisable. Can you talk us through them?
You should be able to find the BFG, Mrs Armitage and Clown. There are also a few others that may stir memories of the sort of people you remember from books you read when you were younger. Drawing them reminded me of doing the pictures for these books, some of them 30 years ago now. I shan’t forget all those discussions that I had with Roald Dahl at his home in Great Missenden.
How much influence did Roald Dahl have on the pictures for his stories?
We talked about what some of his characters should look like. And I’ll never forget getting a brown paper parcel in the post containing one of his Norwegian sandals, which gave me the answer to what the BFG should wear…
Which are your favourite illustrations?
It’s hard to compare. All the Roald Dahl books were very memorable for me but Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, for instance, is very different from The Twits because it’s about bereavement. My latest is not a book for children at all, but Voltaire’s Candide – written over 200 years ago – and for the past six years I’ve been producing pictures for the walls of hospitals, from residential wards to reception centres for young people.
Quentin Blake’s originals are available from Chris Beetles Gallery