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Literacy Learnings Léargais Litríochta

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Illustrator name: Graham Corcoran
Book: The Story of Croke Park

1. What was your earliest memory of reading/being read to?
My earliest books I remember where Ladybird picture books, such as Puss In Boots and
Rumplestiltskin, I still remember the vivid painted illustrations, they had so much detail in them,
which I found fascinating as a child. As I got older I started reading Road Dahl books, and was
obsessed with Quentin Blakes illustrations, his style was so unique and engaging, I had to read
every Dahl book that was available, and only if it was illustrated by Quentin Blake too!

2. When did you first begin to illustrate for an audience?
I’ve always had an interest in drawing, and after studying animation in college, I decided to
concentrate on illustration as a freelance career. My first artwork that was seen by audiences was
for computer games, character designs and so on, that was my first experience of my art being
published and being presented to a wider audience. My first illustrated children’s book came
many years later in my career, when I illustrated ‘Dare To Dream’ written by Sarah Webb, which
was a fantastic experience, and a wonderful book to have as my debut.

3. What book inspired you most as a young illustrator? why?
‘This Is Ireland’ by Miroslav Sasek, his simple, graphic style really inspired me to find my own art
style, and his use of textures and colours really influenced my approach to illustration. It was also
really interesting reading a children’s book from the 1960s about what Ireland was like at the time
through the eyes of the illustrator touring the country.

4. What is the best thing about illustrating for a contemporary audience?
You get to see people appreciating your work immediately on social media, such as Instagram and
Twitter. It’s a nice experience to see people share photos of the book, reviews and kind words
after the book is launched.

5. What is the most challenging thing about illustrating for a contemporary audience?
I always hope my art style connects with a contemporary audience, as it’s quite influenced by mid-
century illustration, so it has quite a retro feel which I like. But it’s fun for me to adapt that style to
modern themes and depictions.

6. What inspired you in illustrating The Story of Croke Park?
I was inspired by one of my favourite illustrators, Bernie Fuchs, who used a lot of texture and
rough lines when illustrating books for children with sporting themes, it really gives a sense of
movement and dynamism to convey the fast paced sports that are depicted.

7. What have you learned from the process of illustrating this book?
I learned to bring more dynamic posing to my illustrations, to give the book more of a feeling of
action, as the sports illustrated in it are all fast paced and high energy. I think I found a good
balance between my usual style of art and a more fluid, loose style of illustration.

8. What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
To stick with it and persevere, to find your own unique style, and the right projects will come
along that suit you. I was in my late 30s when I illustrated my first children’s book, and have now
illustrated four in a row, and am currently working on my fifth. So exciting projects can always
come to you in the future!

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