Educational publishing, in particular English language books for the overseas market, has been a constant source of work from the very start of my career in illustration.
It’s an arena that has perhaps unfairly gained a reputation among illustrators for being slightly uninspiring and workaday. While it’s true that these commissions tend to arrive with quite prescriptive and detailed briefs (the images usually have very specific roles to play in support of related text and audio content), and do not provide the ideal platform for wild flights of self-expression, they still throw up any number of creative problems to be solved. The challenge becomes one of staying faithful to the brief while producing imagery that not only clearly serves its educational function but is attractive and engaging in its own right. My intention has always been to pleasantly surprise the client by serving up something that exceeds expectations, even when faced with the most prosaic of subject matter.
The following examples were done primarily, but not exclusively, for Oxford University Press ELT, with whom I’ve worked on many titles over the years. Notable among these is the Passport series, produced specifically for the Japanese market. Several of the images below originally appeared in these books; they are the tip of a rather large iceberg.
Click on any image to enlarge.