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Alexis Deacon was one of the ten Best New Illustrators selected by Booktrust's Big Picture campaign in 2008. He has always loved to draw and has been keeping sketchbooks since he was a small child, when he would often move from playing games with toys into drawing stories about them.
Alexis started work on his first picture book, Slow Loris, while studying illustration at the University of Brighton. He spent many hours in a zoo sketching a slow loris (an animal similar to a sloth) and then created the story of the creature's secret life after the visitors had gone home. Alexis' second book, Beegu, about a lonely baby alien trying to find its mother on Earth, was created when he moved to London after art college. Beegu was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
Alexis always draws his images first and then colours them. His books are often in muted colours: he believes in only using bright colour for a purpose, such as in Slow Loris' satsuma. He usually draws his figures smaller than he needs them to be for a book, then enlarges them on a photocopier. He likes drawing with wax pencil because of the way it feels on the paper, and also often uses black ink.
The drawings for Alexis' third book, While You Are Sleeping, are in red chalk. So that he could colour the pictures without losing the line of the drawings, Alexis developed a new working method. He oiled the paper to make it transparent, then painted the colour on the underside of the paper so that it looks slightly hazy, which suits the dreamlike world of the intensely emotional bedtime story. All Alexis' books have been created because "I wanted to express feelings and stories that were in my imagination."
Alexis wrote and illustrated a fantastic new version of The Selfish Giant and more recently he has illustrated Russell Hoban’s story called Jim’s Lion, published in 2015 and I am Henry Finch illustrated by Viviane Schwartz. His latest book is Geis published by Nobrow in 2016.
Slow Loris (Red Fox)
Beegu (Red Fox)
While You Are Sleeping (Red Fox)
Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale by Barbara Jean Hicks (Red Fox)
A Place to Call Home by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books)
Croc and Bird (Random House Children’s Books)
Soonchild by Russell Hoban (Walker Books)
The Selfish Giant (Random House)
Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban (Walker)
I Am Henry Finch (Walker)
"Alexis Deacon may well be Burningham's heir apparent . . . Deacon's poignant and understated text is brilliantly served by his illustrations, which carry distant reminders of some of the best illustrators of the last 100 years and yet still remain uniquely his own."
Dinah Hall, The Sunday Telegraph
"Alexis Deacon handles the familiar subject of toys coming to life at night with grace and enchantment . . . The book's eerie cosiness and exquisite figure drawing is loaded with heart. Deacon manages to be sweet without being cute, demonstrating his expertise in saying just enough with his text and pictures, leaving plenty of room for the reader's imagination."
The Times Educational Supplement