Alan Baker, illustrator
Alan Baker was a student of Graphic Design and Illustration from 1973-76.
He taught on the foundation course and the Narrative Illustration MA course in its early days. He also spent seven years teaching part-time on the BA(Hons) Illustration course.
He recalls his experiences as a student, tutor and professional illustrator:
“I have always worked as a freelance illustrator since leaving college. I have written and illustrated over forty childrens’ books, receiving awards for eleven of them including such obscure ones as ‘Best Bug Book’, and the Y.E.S.(USA) award of excellence 1992 (USA) for illustrating Joni Mitchell’s album cover Both Sides Now.
“Two International Reading Association and Childrens’ Book Council, Childrens’ Choice Awards (USA) for White Rabbit’s Color Book and Grey Rabbit’s Odd One Out).
“I have illustrated two books for Michael Rosen; Hairy Tales and Nursery Crimes, a number one best seller in 1985 and Mini Beasties, a poetry anthology.
“I also illustrated Philippa Pearce’s The Battle of Bubble and Squeak which won the Whitbread Award in 1979 and Louis de Bernieres, Red Dog for which I received a V&A Illustration Award nomination in 2002.
“For freelance illustration, I received the Benson and Hedges Illustrators’ Gold Award in 1984, and the Gold Creative Circle Award and Silver Campaign Press awards for advertising campaigns in 1990. This was followed by the Creative Match Flair Illustrator of the Month in November 2004.
“I won first prize in the German Bayer ‘Fungus’ competition in the 1980s. and had various illustrations selected for the Association of Illustrators, Best of British and the Best of European Illustrators annuals.
“I have exhibited in the Royal Academy, The National Theatre, The ICA, and performed at the Tate Modern, as well as having various exhibitions in Europe.
“I love collections. Who in the art world doesn’t? I used to love the cabinets that you would find in museums, usually drawers that would slide open to reveal fossils or spiders.
“For some reason I didn’t really enjoy my time at college. I spent too much time away working at home and really missed out on college life. I was too anxious to get together a good body of work as I was determined to make it my career.
“The tutors were great and I still see them regularly: Raymond Briggs, John Lord, Justin Todd, Chris McKewn, Carol Lawson, Maggie Gordon and Paul Clark. I didn’t keep in contact with my fellow students as I didn’t get to know them, sadly. It is my regret that I didn’t spend more time at college and get more from it.”