It’s been a long time coming, but Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is finally out. I could never have completed the book without the help of the fantastic illustrator Neil Packer. An extra special thank you to him and to Bloomsbury for getting this book finished when times were very hard. Sadly, my mental health has been problematic over the last few years, and I’ve had to step away from Harry Potter in order to take a break and fix things. I’ll still carry on with my own work and the odd commission, but with regards to Potter I leave the final two books in the safe hands of Bloomsbury and a new illustrator. It’s crushingly disappointing to say the least, but it is what it is. Meanwhile, thank you for all your support over the years, it means a great deal. See you all soon I hope. Jim Kay
The Order of the Phoenix
I know – it’s super late coming out. It looks like it might emerge in 2022 now. As I’m writing this the owl is hooting outside, it’s deep midwinter and the ground is locked in ice. I’m currently working flat out trying to get this finished. It’s a whopping book, and the scale of it will probably limit the number of illustrations that can appear. The text, as I understand it, will be very slightly reduced in size, but there’s no way of avoiding the fact this will be a heavy book. One of the problems is that there’s SO MUCH I wasn’t to illustrate in this book, I’m spoilt for choice, but it’s great that this is a slightly darker book, and the children are getting older. This is getting more into my comfort zone now. I really struggled with the first two books.
It’s strange that when I started illustrating Phoenix I was living 160 miles away in Northamptonshire, and the world had never heard of Covid19. I’ve received messages from a number of illustrators and particularly illustration students that are struggling right now with the isolation. I really feel for those in education as this is not the way you imagine spending your college/university life. One of the most frequently asked questions from students is ‘how do you get motivated to work?’. All I can say is that for myself, I had to go back to what made me want to draw, what made me itching to get down to scribbling ideas. It was seeing people actually in the act of creating something I found inspiring. As a student working in a studio with others – that was easy, but once I was freelance and sat on my own at home, I turned to various ‘making of’ books, blogs, and DVD extras. It’s the closest I can get in lockdown to that ‘studio’ feel, watching people muddle through the creative process. The internet has proven really helpful for this too. I’m desperately trying to improve my skills all the time, there’s so much to learn. I still haven’t a clue how to go about using watercolour or apply colour theory, but i’m trying to learn during this weird period of lockdown
Publishing has, in general, been ticking along ok during the pandemic, and people have found escape through reading, which is one positive we can cling to. Meanwhile I will do my best to get this book wrapped up, and I am very grateful for your patience, and for the patience of the publisher Bloomsbury, who always support me when I have a wobble. J
Getting to know the area….
We have been in East Sussex for a little while now, and I’m in love with the place. We are trying to make the garden more biodiverse, and have added two large ponds in the last 17 months. We have already seen regular visits to the ponds from grass snakes, and there is a very healthy population of dragonfly larvae in the water. We have created large compost heaps (We discovered over 70 hatched grass-snake eggs in one!) and a wildflower meadow. Slow worms regularly turn up while we garden here. I’ve planted just over 250 native trees for hedgerow. The next aim is to get as many food plants for moth and butterfly larvae in place, and a sandy area for ground nesting bees and wasps. It’s going to look a mess for a while, but now we have fully restored the house we can concentrate more on the outside. I think it will take five years to get the gardens roughly into shape.
The garden is everything to us, it informs our work, and supplies endless reference material for Harry Potter. During lockdown it’s been the one thing that made me think positively about the future. With a garden you have to think between one and ten years ahead, and with bipolar disorder this is a big deal, because usually it’s about just trying to make it though the day. It’s the only time I can truly ‘plan’ when I’m in the garden. J.
A while ago we travelled around Argentina, and in particular, Patagonia, which is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary places on earth. The light and the colours are not like anything I’ve experienced before, and the blues in particular, are exceptional. I have never had a journey like it, and we want to thank Clive, David and Tim for being such wonderful friends and company. The people of Argentina are extremely welcoming and kind, and effortlessly cool too. Here’s just a few pictures from our travels. Jx
New Studio…at last, and promotional tour.
So this is the new studio Louise and I work in (Louise is camera shy by the way……blimey look at my hair), which gives us a bit more space, and it’s separate from the house – so no more messy kitchen. I’ve already started on the Order of the Phoenix, but we have lost around 6 months to all the problems with moving and fixing up a new place, and Louise is tied up with renovations for the next couple of months. As soon as I’m back after the promo tour, I will really have to get cracking.
So I’ll be talking about illustrating the Goblet of Fire and signing books at various events in the UK in October. For full details go to the link here
Looking forward to seeing you!
Check out Creepy Scrawlers on Instagram too for pictures and stuff
We have Moved!
Louise and Jim have relocated to the South Coast of England, just outside Rye in East Sussex. We have been bowled over by the wildlife here already, we have badgers, foxes, rabbits, stoats, even ravens passing through our garden. Gardening is a key part of our work, as it informs Louise’s millinery, and Jim’s illustrations. Our aim over the next five years is to create a garden that offers diverse habitats for invertebrates, amphibians and birds, and record what we find.
We will keep you updated on our progress. Been a very busy few months.
Patronus on a Postcard
The charity Booktrust have asked 26 illustrators to draw/paint/scribble something on a postcard to raise money for their ongoing work to help children develop their love of reading all across the UK. Here is my effort! If you’d like to see the wonderful works by illustrators such as Levi Pinfold and Alex T. Smith, or indeed if you’d like to bid on these works of art then click here after 6pm today. It’s for a good cause!
I also painted on the reverse of my postcard, just in case you wanted to send it to someone, I even painted a stamp for you.
Auction of books for charity!
I’ve done some scribbles in a box-set of the first three illustrated Harry Potter books, to raise money for ‘Breast Unit Events‘, started by Kate Butler and Susie Coleman in 2014, to help fund the Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven (Charity No. 1171155). The Unit gives support to sufferers of breast cancer.
So here is a crayon drawing of Hagrid, in the other books I’ve drawn an Owl and the head of a Hippogryph. You can see the books and bid for them on this link !
Later in the year I will be doing lots of doodling in a deluxe edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in case that interests you. I’ll give you the details nearer the date.
Any support you can give to Breast Unit Events would be greatly appreciated. Kate was a dear friend of ours and sadly we lost her to breast cancer in Autumn 2018. Please give what you can. We miss you Kate x.
Goblet of Fire done, starting on Order of Phoenix!
It took a while but Goblet is in the bag; four down, three to go. As usual there are things that didn’t make the book that I really wanted to. It’s the curse of every illustrator that a book is never finished, you just run out of time. I’ve been out and about researching for the Order of the Phoenix last week, with trips to Great Dixter and Ightham Mote in the South of England. Have a look! (Ightham Mote). I’m going to try and make the next book a bit more ‘me’. It’s been a huge strain working outside my comfort range for the last six years, so hopefully I will get the courage to be a bit more expressive and push the visuals in a darker direction. I think it would suit the text.
I’d forgotten just how rough a time Harry has in the Order, not a happy year by any stretch. It’s a bleak story to match our bleak times, perhaps. I’ll be glad to throw myself into this book, anything to avoid the news right now. Louise and I are on Instagram don’t forget, get on there and make recommendations about what you want to see in the forthcoming Order of the Phoenix book @creepy_scrawlers
Looks like we might be moving to the South Coast soon, by the way…..fingers crossed.