Flying Fergus – hear from Clare Elsom, the illustrator!

Clare Elsom head shotBikes?! When Piccadilly first approached me, that was my first thought. Ask any illustrator. Bikes, (along with horses and hands, for some reason) are a tricky business.

But then . . . I read a few snippets of Fergus. I was told about his freckly, knobbly-kneed, big-hearted charm. I fell in love with Chimp. I adored feisty Daisy. I couldn’t wait to hear more about this heart-warming story. I really, REALLY wanted to illustrate Fergus and his fantastical worlds.

So I quickly embraced my new life as a crazy Pinteresting-scrapbooking-sketchbooking-bike-drawing woman:

bikes_clare Elsom

Creating Fergus, his family, and the rest of the gang was quite a smooth process. There are a fair number of characters in the books, but Chris and Joanna had given me some great descriptions to work with. I tend to read and re-read character descriptions, then let them wander around my head for a few days. Then I begin sketching different designs. In this instance, Fergus and friends began to spring quite easily onto the page. Here are some of my sketches:

characters Clare Elsom

And here are some finished characters from the books:

final characters clare elsom

After everyone felt happy with the characters, we started on the cover. Jet, the fantastic art director, had some super ideas and we worked together to create a vibrant, punchy style for Fergus. We played around with some different type and character poses for the first two covers:

cover ideas

Soon we’d decided on some consistent elements such as bright colours, a bold hand-rendered title and a subtle tyre-track print in the background to give the series a strong look. Here are the first two finished covers:

Book cover reveal

As for the interior illustrations, the stories allow me to create energetic, funny, character-filled images. Right up my street! So far, my pencils have scribbled fantastic friends, crazy castles, scary serpents, marmalade sandwiches, jet boosters, villains . . . and a good splattering of mud. And that’s just the first two books. I can’t wait for more!

Fergus and Daisy

FLYING FERGUS is a new series of children’s books by Chris Hoy and Joanna Nadin, illustrated by Clare Elsom.

THE BEST BIRTHDAY BIKE and THE GREAT CYCLE CHALLENGE are out now and available to buy here:                                                                         or here:

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