'I love the challenge of helping to tell a story with my pictures'
Award-winning P J Lynch (right), arguably the most influential Irish illustrator, was recently short -listed for the 2010 Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards for his illustrations on 'Lincoln and his Boys' by Rosemary Wells.
Having worked in the business for 20 years, PJ has certainly noticed changes in the type of children's books now being produced.
"There are so many more picture books for children now, from very traditional work to the funkiest computer-generated imagery. Whatever the illustrative style used, the books which children love are the ones with great characters and great stories.
"That's why the books that AA Milne and Roald Dahl created with their illustrators EH Shephard and Quentin Blake will stand the test of time."
PJ started illustrating because he had an interest in folklore and the Irish storytelling tradition.
"One of my early tutors in the 1980s was Raymond Briggs, who was then breaking the mould of children's books with his comic strip-style creations of Father Christmas and The Snowman. He inspired me to focus on picture books rather than advertising or editorial illustration.
"I liked the idea that my books might be enjoyed by any age group, so I have always been careful never to patronise my audience, and I try to get right into the emotional heart of each story I illustrate."
After 20 years, PJ still enjoys his work.
"I like to think that I'm still learning and developing with each new book I do. The thing that always excites me is a terrific story, and I love the challenge of helping to tell that story with my pictures. I'm always trying new techniques, and I'm very keen to do a book entirely created in Photoshop on the computer."
PJ applauds the work being produced by his fellow illustrators and children's writers in Ireland.
"It's tremendous that so many Irish writers are doing really well internationally, and there have been quite a few new Irish illustrators breaking through in the picture-book market recently.
"There's a great vibe and a genuine sense of camaraderie when Irish writers and illustrators get together and, although the book trade has suffered through the recession, I think there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future."