Mike Phillips – interview with the illustrator

Mike Phillips, Grandma’s talented illustrator, is passionate about drawing.

Mike was born in East London in 1961. As a boy he would draw all of his favourite characters from the comics he enjoyed reading.

In those days it was not unusual for teenagers to leave school early and Mike left at the age of 15, when he went into the printing industry. “There I learnt how books were put together, and how bleed was used.”

I wasn’t too sure what this meant and asked Mike to explain a bit more.

“Bleed is when the picture goes off the edge of the page and you have to make sure when drawing the picture that your drawing goes off the edge of the page as well.”

Surprisingly, Mike never studied art anywhere, but he never stopped drawing as a youngster – his dream was of becoming a cartoonist.

Self portrait, Mike Phillips

“I started sending cartoons to the newspapers and various magazines in 1993, and then added birthday cards in ’95. By 1998 I was confident enough to look for an agent, and Beehive took me on.”

Mike has been happily illustrating for Beehive ever since.

When asked to tell me how many books he had illustrated over the years, Mike was typically reticent. I had to ask a few times before he sent me his reply!

“I don’t know the exact amount of books I’ve illustrated, but it must be around 300!”

I asked him what it has been like to illustrate my ‘Whatever Next, Grandma!’ series?

He told me: “I think ‘Grandma Rides A Pony’ was my favourite to draw. Drawing horses is always tricky, and I really have to work carefully to get them right; it’s always nice to be challenged.

“I think the pencil work on this book took me the longest, with lots of photos to study. Planning each picture was great fun.”

What had first drawn him to this brand new series? (Forgive the pun!)

“I think Grandma is a great character, with her wacky wardrobe! She is someone who can get herself tangled in absolutely anything, and just as easily walk out the other side without even knowing the trouble she’s caused! I don’t know where her next adventure will take her, but I’m looking forward to finding out!”

Mike Phillips

If Grandma could talk I reckon she’d say a big “thank you” to Mike. She might even comment on his wardrobe, but then I’d never let her.