My name is Rikin Parekh and I’m a Children’s book Illustrator based in North West London. I also work as a LSA (Learning Support Assistant) in primary schools.
I studied at Camberwell College of Arts, then at the University of Westminster in Harrow. After graduating, I freelanced as a Film Production Illustrator working mainly on monster movies.
I then decided I’d love to follow my first true love of picture books and turned my hand to children’s publishing.
I’m an avid film buff, love collecting old comic book art, reading sci-fi novels and meditating. I also LOVE eating pizza.
My influences range from Jim Henson, Sir Quentin Blake, Colin West, Val Biro, Judith Kerr, Kandinsky, Jimi Hendrix, and the great Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
P.S. That is not my dog (but I wish he was!)
When did you know you wanted to become an illustrator?
I think it was during primary school, I saw all the picture books and was just blown away and knew that’s what I wanted to do, somehow!
How long does it typically take to make a page or cover for a book?
It takes a good week, maybe two. I care for my disabled mum and help around the house too so much of my time is taken up with care and chores, but I’ve learned how to juggle all of this (and be really good at asking for extensions!) Also, I hand drawn/colour everything, no digital art whatsoever so that makes it’s even longer.
What’s your favourite piece of art equipment?
I think, if you asked me a few years back, I would say my dip pen, and it still is to some degree, but it’s most probably a tie between the Polychromos pencils that I use to draw and the brushes I use to ink now, as supposed to inking solely with dip pens like I used to do years back.
Do you have a favourite colour scheme, if so what and why?
I don’t really, but I do love bright colours, energising colours like yellows, oranges and warm blues.
Who were your inspirations when starting out?
The classics like Dr Seuss, that was huge, Jim Henson and Quentin Blake.
Do you have another job besides being an illustrator, if so what?
I do, I also work, when possible, as a Teaching Assistant in Primary schools. I find it deeply rewarding and so much fun.
What do you do to overcome a creative block?
Meditate, watch a film, try to go out in nature or just listen to music
Do you have a favourite piece in your portfolio, if so could you share it and talk about it?
I don’t really! I find that the spontaneous sketches are the ones that are really cool.
What was your first book related project?
It was a series of picture books written by an Irish Canadian author, Bernard P Morgan. I was really new (illustrating books) i and was so lucky that Bernard gave me full artistic licence!
What type of media do you prefer to work in and why?
I prefer to work traditionally, using black Indian ink, concentrated watercolours, polychromos pencils and the odd crayon. I find it’s much more instinctive and raw and I find I can put across the feeling and passion straight away.
Do you have a playlist you like working to? If so do you want to share it?
It differs, it can be Liquid Drum and Bass, Chill to Psychedelic Rock from the 60’s, Hendrix/The Beatles or sometimes feature film soundtracks.
Do you have any rituals when working?
Good music, light some incense and be in the moment of joy in doing what I love doing.
Do you have a favourite artist outside of the world of books, if so who and why?
Mainly the inking masters of comic book art, John and Sal Buscema, John Romita and Wassily Kandinsky.
Did the books you read as a child influence your work?
I think so, I read lots of US comic books and watched lots of films so I’d like to think my illustrations have that filmic narrative.
Has your illustration/art style changed over time?
Very much so, at first, it was mirroring Dr Seuss, I copied him, his colour schemes etc, but now I am much more open and less constrained to the black ink line.
How closely do you work with the author on developing the illustrations for a book?
I try to strike up a conversation so I know I’m doing the right thing, especially as it’s their vision, that is important to me. I’m always in a state of gratitude towards those authors so I try to take on as much as they want, i.e. their visions and ideas into the illustrations.
If you could illustrate any classic book which would it be and why?
It would be ‘The Enormous Crocodile” by Roald Dahl, I loved the character and the story! The character more tbh!
Which illustrated books in the last year have you loved?
I’ve not been able to read many tbh, I’ve just been far too busy! 🙁
If you can please tell us about your latest project and if not your last project
I’m just finishing up on a wonderfully bonkers picture book with Walker Books, am nearly done final artwork for the next “Worst Class in the World…” series and am in the early stages of working on a TOP SECRET PROJECT and there other projects coming soon…
Do you have any events on in the near future?
I have a couple of school events but apart from that I do not know, there might be some on the way!